12If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NLT
In case of emergency, break glass! For many of us that is an expression that we have seen in hallways where emergency equipment is available should the circumstances require. In this season of merriment, however, it should be an idiom that we take to heart. In the very distant past, emergencies were never planned for. After a while, our forbearers discovered that a little planning goes a long way….so emergency equipment became a staple and normal people were trained in emergency procedures. The maintenance of sobriety from various types of addictions needs to be handled in the same way. Slips need to be planned for. Do you have a plan?
The holidays are a time for reconnection and family/office festivities. They are also a time of stress, loneliness, ambiguous nostalgia, and temptation. Because of my own struggles with self-valuation by performance, family get togethers have the potential to trigger my twin coping mechanisms of anxiety and control. Over the years, I have learned to identify these activations and remove myself from or completely avoid triggering situations. If your sobriety (or the establishment of new boundaries for your life) is new, here are some useful tips:
- Assume that you will be triggered.
- Share your upcoming triggers with trusted friends, accountability partners, sponsors (if applicable) or counselors.
- Accumulate a list of phone numbers (people) that you can call.
- If you are travelling, know where you can attend a fellowship meeting (AA, SAA, NA, CR, Al Anon etc.) over the holiday period. Many fellowships have web-based meeting locators. Some fellowships have apps that can be downloaded to help with finding a meeting.
- Know before hand, what your exit strategy is going to be. For some people this means asking a friend to call at a specific time, if a particular gathering or situation is unavoidable. For others it may mean informing family/friends, that you will be unable to attend. Do whatever it takes. Seek the positive support you need if disappointing family and friends seems difficult.
- If participation in an event is unavoidable and you are tempted to slip, do something crazy but different. One sponsor used to instruct his sponsees to call him for permission to act out. Another example would be if you are about to poor that drink (or click on that website or otherwise overstep that boundary you set for yourself), break the glass (or shout a specific/non-relevant phrase at the top of your voice or wear/pull an elastic band on your wrist) and see how that feels. Decide with a trusted person, what that crazy thing is going to be.
- And finally, if a slip does occur, don’t allow shame and guilt to delay admission. Call someone immediately, who can shower you with empathy and acceptance! Decide who that person is ahead of time and inform them.
If temptation presents itself and you overcome it, call someone as soon as you can and celebrate your victory. Plan ahead with a trusted person what that celebration is going to involve.
Addiction recovery emergencies, in the form of triggers that can lead to acting out, will happen. Be prepared and have a wonderful holiday season.