Family or friend gatherings that involve alcohol or drug use are cues for many people and may be for you. You will need to think of options to manage these situations and enlist the help of supportive friends and family. Managing these situation cues can be handled in two ways.
- Share your decision not to use with supportive family and friends and ask them to assist you by not using around you. Ask them to ensure gatherings are drug and alcohol free when you are invited. Ask them to help you to talk to other family or friends about supporting your decision not to use and not to be around those who use. Ask them to hold separate gatherings for those who refuse to support your non-drinking or using plan. Getting family and friends to support you to develop non-using friendships can be a real help in preventing relapse.
- Learn to manage situation cues and stressful events that cue you to use or drink by:
- Declining or refusing to attend those events.
- Using stress management and relaxation techniques before, during, and after the event.
- Limiting the time you attend stressful events to twenty or thirty minutes and then excusing your self.
- Explaining to family or friends that you no longer wish to participate in events that cause you to experience stress or anger.
In summary, cue situations can be managed through non-attendance, changing your role in the situation, and by preparing and practicing coping skills to manage the stress of the cue situation before, during and after the event. Effective coping skills can include relaxation techniques, stress management, anger management, conflict management and cognitive or clear thinking skills. If sex is a particular cue for you, then you may wish to seek advice from a counselor who has expertise in this particular area.
Take a few minutes now and using the Strategies to Manage column on page 2 of your “Personal Cue Inventory and Strategies to Manage Cues,” start listing your chosen strategies next to the events or situations you identified as cues for you to use.