Play the Tape Through: A Strategy To Prevent Relapse
Newcomers to recovery need all the help they can get! There is a little gem of a relapse prevention strategy we find especially helpful. We call this strategy, “Play the Tape Through”.
A Kit of Spiritual Tools
There is a shining promise made in the 12 Step recovery literature. Well, there are a LOT of promises throughout the literature. But, one promise is about being able to access a kit of spiritual tools.
When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. p. 25 Big Book
Okay, that may sound kind of esoteric. So, let’s get right down to it. In very practical terms let’s talk through using one of these tools.
“Play The Tape Through.”
An incredible tool! The long version – “Play the Tape Through to the End”.
When an alcoholic or addict is trying not to drink or use, there is a psychological phenomenon that occurs. The name of this phenomena is “Euphoric Recall”
Euphoric recall is a psychological term for the tendency of people to remember past experiences in a positive light, while overlooking negative experiences associated with that event(s). Wikipedia
How does this Euphoric Recall work in real life terms? Imagine this: an alcoholic, a few weeks sober is cutting the lawn. It is hot out. Suddenly, it appears. It manifests right out of the blue sky. This manifestation in front of the alcohol’s mind’s eye is a frosty, sweating bottle. Little beads of crystalline light roll down the dark glass. Even as the alcoholic is pushing the lawn mower, in her mind’s eye she is not holding the mower. Instead, she is holding the cold bottle to her hot neck. A sweet nuzzling as she considers all their beautiful dances together. Then the cap twists off…the popping fizz of promise, and then that golden glug, glug, glug…
As the woman turns the mower to do another pass of the lawn, there it is again. It is like a GIF. It endlessly repeats. The longing, the reunion, the embrace, the satisfying of the thirst. Again. And again. And again.
That my friends is Euphoric Recall. Playing only the first few minutes in an endless cycle of happy memories.
Time to Break Open the Tool Kit
If you are new in recovery, you can expect those shiny happy GIF’s to appear. Maybe they will come when you are least expecting it. Addiction is tricky that way. And when they do, here’s how to use the tool.
Play the Tape through to the End
First, forget the GIF. Forget the loop. Play it out. Play it out in your mind to the very end. In our example, in the woman’s mental imagining, she stops mowing the lawn, and goes after that beer. She drinks it. Then what? We know that answer, right? Allergy is activated and she is powerless. Therefore, she gets another one. And another. Then what? Fill in your own blanks as the now realistic mental story progresses: drinking driving, drunken fighting, tears, shame, guilt, remorse, DUI’s, broken ankles, hospital, jail, death…
Push the play button until there is no more tape! The end is now where every active alcoholic or addict knows they will go. And it is not pretty. In fact, it is hideous, right? When the tape is played through, the spell of the Euphoric Recall is broken. It is seen through. Consequently, it is exposed as the slick marketing department fraud that it is. Play the tape through, the perfect tool for the job!
And the woman cutting the lawn? By the time she has finished the lawn, and playing the tape through, she is drinking a tall cool glass of water. Consequently, she is looking forward to that evening’s AA meeting and hanging out with her new sober friends. Instead of the drama and trauma of active addiction.
Learning the Tools to Stay Sober
There are huge advantages of coming to a 70 or 90-day addiction recovery program. There will be lots of opportunities to learn, in real time, what the tools are and how to use them. This is your life at stake.
Serenity Vista offers a unique opportunity to live in a beautiful tropical environment with other recovering people. Ways of dealing with life on life’s terms are role modeled and taught, as they happen. Imagine! A whole healthy extended family dedicated to your well-being and recovery.