Anticipating enticing and tempting situations and carefully managing them is an essential skill in a successful recovery program. Some circumstances and situations should simply be avoided. Don’t put yourself in harms way unnecessarily when it could be sidestepped. Other events can be managed with some planning. Consider the following refusal skills and tactics.
Prepare a way of escape. If you rode to an event with friends and are tempted or start craving, it is difficult to find an easy exit. Plan for this in advance. Riding separately may be a good option. Take someone along who would be willing to leave early, if necessary.
Prepare some backup. If you became sad, lonely, frustrated, upset, tempted, or started craving, who could you call or where could you go? Load your phone with people from your support network rather than have it fully stocked with old friends who use. Watch for subtle signs of trouble, which are often ignored, and be willing to respond as quickly as necessary. Reaching out for help is important. Decide in advance who you could contact or confide in about a troubling or tempting situation.
Anticipate who will approach you. What might they say or do? Prepare a script that is kind, yet firm. Name several appropriate responses and practice them out loud, if you can. Anticipate likely responses and how you might reply.
Announce your intentions in advance. If you were going to play softball, tell your sponsor or an accountability partner you are going and don’t intend to drink or use. Stating it in advance solidifies your intentions and gives you an opportunity to dialogue further about a solid plan to stay in recovery.
Be honest with yourself. Did you get through that situation easily or did it almost trip you up? Deceiving yourself is a sure setup for failure. Confiding in a trusted friend or sponsor will strengthen your resolve next time.
Be assertive with your words and with your body posture. Don’t say, “maybe” and try to get to “NO!” Say, “NO!” Don’t bother explaining your reasons. Remember, if someone doesn’t like your refusal, they are not going to agree with your reasons. Too much reasoning and explaining often turns into an argument and accomplishes nothing but heartache. Make sure your body isn’t saying “that sounds like fun” while your mouth is saying “no thanks.” Keep your body posture and your assertive statements in constant agreement.
Take sober support with you. You are more vulnerable alone. Taking someone along who understands your struggle to an event, ballgame, road trip, or fishing event can be wise and protective. Avoid taking people with you who will offer drugs or alcohol or expect you to participate with them.
Identify tempting situations in advance. This anticipation will allow you to avoid situations and better equip you to face temptations when you can’t avoid them. Planning ahead can make all the difference in establishing and maintaining long-term recovery.
Recovery is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride!