Ecstatic Exhilaration or Dysphoric Discomfort? Blueprint for Relapse Prevention
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Euphoric recall is a two-sided coin. The power of addiction is much deeper than being in close proximity to your drug of choice. On any given day, euphoric recall can invade your space seemingly out of the blue. It doesn’t come from nowhere but so it seems. Fatigue and boredom can be its trigger. Breakthrough relief after long extended effort can also trigger the recall of past exhilaration from acting out. Unstructured and unaccounted-for time is the breeding ground for the junkie worm. There is often an increase in heart rate, an inability to concentrate in the here and now, and raging obsessional powerful memories of past experiences. The euphoric recall of past acting out paralyzes all other thoughts. The experience triggers compelling ecstasy around destructive behaviors that threaten to melt the resolve of any addict in recovery.
On the other side of the coin, past memories can feel like a plague that never lets go. Like the fog that clings to the night air, the nagging memory of compulsive acting out cloaks every behavior throughout the day. It’s in the background of every activity. Memories can be exhausting and set the stage for despair. Harsh remarks from others, agonizing hopelessness, and chronic partner despondency tempt any addict to long for escape from the daily drudgery of the painful reality of carnage from past addictive behaviors.
No one escapes the elation or deflation of euphoric recall in addiction recovery. It becomes critical to accept and manage this dynamic and not ignore or minimize its presence. Listed are a few considerations to improve your recovery management.
1. Know that the charge of excitement does not mean you have crossed a line of no return. “Want to” does not equate to “got to”.
2. Spit in the soup of your euphoric recall. An old Adlerian strategy helps in this endeavor. Think of your favorite soup served at your favorite restaurant and the maitre d spits in your soup. Do you eat it? Of course not. Do the same with your euphoric recall. Imagine it being spoiled by the reality of being discovered acting out by a partner or dear friend. Think of the hurt, unbelievable pain, and shame that would follow. Let the thought jolt you out of your intrusive destructive thought.
3. Practice a 3-second rule. Give yourself 3 seconds to experience the euphoria and then practice radically focusing on non-acting-out behavior.
4. When oppressed and discouraged, place the shame on past destructive behaviors and keep it away from your sense of self.
5. Practice and train in bathing your heart and soul in positive, inspiring affirmations.
6. Act in the present with the vision your destiny inspires you to be. Some suggest that you “fake it till you make it”. I suggest that you practice behaviors that express your belief in yourself while ignoring feelings that tempt you to think otherwise. This requires training and religious practice.
7. Remain hungry to learn regardless of how you feel. No matter what the circumstance you can learn from the pain of past mistakes. Therein lies the deepest of wisdom. This is the place where you can access your own brilliance and creatively develop a solution while you deepen your belief in your own destiny.
Addicts who practice this process learn who they are in a moment of struggle. The deeper the pain and the more stressful the struggle—the more beautiful the blossom.
This new post was written by Ken Wells. In Dare to be Average, Ken’s new book, you can embrace healing, peace, and self-acceptance through meaningful insights to discover purpose and fulfillment in everyday life.
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