Here are some basic guidelines that I have developed to help the individual seeking to recover from alcohol or other drug (AOD) addiction through complete abstinence and use of support from attendance of 12 Step meetings:
Avoid Access to AOD
1. Avoid AOD and AOD users completely.
2. Do not stay in the same room or at a party, while someone is preparing to use or is using AOD.
3. Do not help friends find AOD or go along to watch.
4. Do not touch or handle AOD at any time.
5. Do not accept or fill any prescription without verifying the substance to be free of abuse potential. Do not rely upon the physician for this information; ask an addictions expert.
6. Read labels of over-the-counter medications; avoid liquids, such as cough and cold preparations, with alcohol in them, and choose "non-drowsiness" formulations.
7. Do not go to a place you know will result in access or put you in an environment normally frequented by users.
Avoid Unstructured Time
1. Avoid boredom, long periods of time with nothing to do, and isolation from persons who support your recovery. Get a job; go to AA/NA meetings; make friends with recovering people; develop new, or brush off old, hobbies, which you do not associate with use.
2. Especially avoid empty, unplanned periods at those times when you used to do AOD. Plan positive activities for dangerous times, preferably with persons who support your recovery.
Avoid holding large sums of money. For example, on payday, arrange for direct deposit and go to an AA/NA meeting right after work.
Identify and Prepare for Craving Triggers
1. Identify your personal cues for AOD craving/hunger, relative to sights, smells, sounds, events, people, and avoid if possible. Some common examples are music, sex, after work, payday, weekends, when significant other is away for a period of time, etc. Develop a survival plan for those (unavoidable) situations in which triggers are present, or craving/hunger occurs.
2.Brand into your brain that obsessions(recurring thoughts) or compulsions (craving or drug hunger which seems physically based) are normal and need not be acted on! In other words, just because you want to get high does not mean that you have to or should!
Learn To Handle Emotions
1. Mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, depression, anhedonia (pleasurelessness; present especially in cocaine addict), loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, fear of impending doom, are all common in early recovery. Remember that feelings need not be acted on destructively, and will pass.
2. Learn new tools to deal with "negative" feelings, such as, calling someone in recovery, going to an AN/NA meeting, using spiritual tools (prayer, meditation).
3. Ask for help from professionals (if not already in treatment) if negative feeling states continue to the point where you feel on the verge of relapse or other destructive behavior.
4. Remember that your basic recovery tool is involvement with recovering, supportive persons. Substitute healthy reliance on people for AOD.
The above guidelines are simple, practical suggestions that can be helpful to the individual recovering from any addiction.
As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 11/11/2013.