Real world problems like addiction need real world solutions. Many going through the recovery process find it difficult to relate to the highly theoretical philosophy that many counselors and addiction therapists rely upon for the basis of their programs. Easy to understand action plans, and practical tools can help make the connection from theory to application much easier for those struggling with addiction and recovery.
Detoxification is a difficult physical process, and the chemical changes in the brain can also greatly affect mood and overall emotional state. This is why it is common to feel depressed after a recovery program, causing many to beat themselves up mentally for not being “good enough”, or “strong enough” to fully recover from their addiction. It is much more likely that the individual will relapse if they don’t have a process to help them identify these self-defeating thought patterns before they give in to the stress of whatever they’re dealing with.
Learning to process thoughts and emotions rationally can go a long way in helping to cope with possible relapse triggers, and everyday stress. Tools such as positive self-talk, and guided daily journaling may be the key to creating a solid foundation for recovery.
The Tools For Coping series by James J. Messina, Ph.D., is rooted in the practical application of easy-to-understand processes designed to build the individual’s confidence, and address the underlying issue of low self-esteem. The program is not only applicable in addiction recovery, but has also been utilized to supplement countless other types of therapeutic programs. The series operates on the assumption that no one can change their actions without first changing their thought patterns and unhealthy emotional response habits. It takes time to “un-learn” years of, what the program calls, “sick” thinking, and replace it with a healthy thought process.
Guided journaling is used to provide the recovering individual with a daily exercise that reinforces the principles outlined in the series, and helps to connect the theory of the program with the real world action.
Daily Journal Outline Taken from the “Tools For Coping” series.
What incidents have occurred recently to bring up this issue for me?
How did I deal with this issue?
What were my feelings at the time?
What are my feelings now?
How could I have handled my response to this issue better or in the future?
What plans can I develop to rectify my response to this issue?
With the cycle of addiction and recovery often ongoing for so many, simple tools like this can be used to fall back on in times of stress, and may decrease the chances for relapse in the long run. Much like a soldier, or firefighter relies on their training to “kick in” during highly stressed situations, an individual in recovery may be able to build a new response system based on healthy thoughts, and normal emotional processes.