Friday, April 17, 2015

Awareness in Recovery


I remember leading a group discussion concerning this topic as a counselor in a rehab. It was interesting how people viewed the idea of awareness and past relapses. We focused on when in the cycle of recovery and addiction a relapse starts.

Almost everyone acknowledged that is starts long before the actual event. Much of it seemed to hinge on self talk. Those "voices" in our heads that hardly ever have anything positive to say or act in any support of what is good for us. So much negativity.

A woman I'll call Jane admitted that she had planned her relapse for months. Her S/O was going on a business trip and she realized that as soon as she heard the news she started to "plan' her relapse. Images of buying heroin and using it "in secret" filled her mind. Jane was seeing a counselor, attending a support group, saw her relationship as stable and had a good job. She was active in a church and had a few friends. Despite all of the possible support she made the decision to use. This decision, made months before, cost her a lot. But in the long run Jane's awareness of what happened has also enriched her life.

Jane started an awareness practice backed by a contemplative practice that I recommend. She started doing a journal and unlike before started sharing this journal with others in her support group. So in essence she had the fortitude to take an unfortunate event and evolve from it. No more lies to herself or letting her egocentric addiction make the rules of the game. It's interesting that at least a part of her, even after some recovery time, simply took a return to heroin as a "legitimate" thought structure and also convinced her true self that she could live with it.

Most relapses don't happen in a vacuum. Addicts will sometimes say a relapse "just happened" because of no special reason. Maybe. But I reject that. Relapse starts a long time before the event. It can be subtle and insinuate itself into our minds but more often it's an agreement we make with out egocentric conditioning to allow it to happen.

Egocentric conditioning loves to make us victims. It can't and we aren't unless we allow it.

  • In conjunction with recovery start looking at recovery as a daily remission status. Every single day is going to be different. 
  • Old solutions don't always apply to new problems. Keep developing. 
  • Which means to evolve. Daily. 
  • Don't lie and don't listen to the lies your conditioning tells you. 
  • The very second you "hear" those relapse thoughts address them. Right now and right then. Drop everything and take a look at where your ego is hijacking you. 
  • Get it out. Don't let the ideas consume you. Share, write, record them and look at them. 
Get used to looking at the internal egocentric thinking on a daily basis. Start a practice that allows you to have the time to look inside and not take thoughts for granted. You don't have to study Zen like I did but look at all the options and start to investigate an awareness model that works for you. 

I encourage and love feedback. If there is anything I can do to support you please allow me to do so.
Jane now has almost six months abstinent and reports she is doing it daily.