Tag Archives: abstinence

Self Talk to Avoid Relapse

Self talk can be a helpful recovery tool. Changing the negative self talk into positive self talk is one of the important challenges of addiction recovery. Listen in to this opiate support group discuss the things they tell themselves to avoid relapse.

Discussion Guide:

What 5 things would you tell yourself to avoid a relapse?

What are your errors of thinking that could lead to relapse?

Can you think of a helpful mantra that you can recite when in a vulnerable situation?

Supplemental Reading:

Beth Leipholtz, 5 Things To Tell Yourself When You Want to Drink, http://www.thefix.com/5-things-tell-yourself-when-you-want-drink

Dr. Oz’ On Air Intervention

It is a delicate matter to talk with someone about what you perceive as their shortcomings. This is especially true when you believe they are putting themselves in harms way with substance abuse. Formal, organized interventions may use "tough love"  to get the person with an addiction into treatment. This person may be confronted in a harsh or stern manner with the intent to help them in the long run. They may be presented with education, fear tactics, surprise, pressure, guilt, shame and resources. Dr. Oz orchestrated a public intervention on his nationally televised show. Listen to this support group discuss their reactions to Dr. Oz' intervention.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with the concept "Tough Love"? If so, what is it?

Have you been the subject of an intervention?

If so, did you find the intervention more helpful or hurtful?

When people have expressed their concerns about your substance use, did they lean more heavily on "tough" or "love"?

Are you familiar with motivational interviewing, a counseling approach to help people work through ambivalence? What are the principles of motivational interviewing?

How would you advise someone talk to someone who has problems with substances?

Supplemental Reading:

Jami Wolf-Dolan, PsyD, What I Learned About Addiction From Attending the Dr. Oz Show, http://www.thefix.com/what-i-learned-about-addiction-attending-dr-oz-show

In the News: Sober Dating Sites, Syringe Vending Machines, and the Link Between Unemployment and Opioids

What's in the news this week? 1. Vending machines now dispense more than candy and soda. New machines are coming to Las Vegas that dispense clean syringes, kits for safe sex, kits that clean wounds, and provide a means of safely disposing syringes. 2. Sober online dating sites. 3. A new study finds that as the jobless rate rises, so do drug overdoses. Listen in to this support group discuss these issues.

Discussion Guide:

What are the pros and cons of syringe vending machines?

Would you have utilized them?

How did you dispose of your used needles?

Have you used an online dating service?

What are the pros and cons of a recovery dating site?

12-Step conventional advise is to avoid dating in the first year of recovery. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

As the unemployment rate increases by one percentage point in a given county, the opioid-death-rate rises by 3.6%, and ER visits rise by 7%. What would you think causes this?

Supplemental Reading:

Victoria Kim, Country's First Syringe Vending Machines Are Coming to Vegas, https://www.thefix.com/country%E2%80%99s-first-syringe-vending-machines-are-coming-vegas

New Sober Dating Site, https://www.thefix.com/new-sober-dating-site

Olga Khazan, The Link Between Opioids and Unemployment, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/joblessness-and-opioids/523281/



Staying Clean Is Not Easy: Barriers to Long Term Abstinence

Getting clean may be easier than staying clean. Long-term recovery can be a challenge without the right support. There are many barriers that cause former drug abusers to become discouraged if they are not able to establish a stable life. Examples are lack of housing and employment. Listen to this recovery support group talk about external and internal barriers that might make them give up.

Discussion Guide:

What are the things you need to give up when you begin a recovery program?

What are you adding to your life when you are in recovery?

What are the barriers to maintaining drug abstinence?

Supplementary Reading:

J. Kelly, J. R. McKay, A Plante, The Fix, Remove the Barriers to Addiction Recovery, 


Anyone Addicted to Sugar?

Who doesn't love sweets? It turns out that sugar hits the same part of the brain's reward system as substances. Sugar has the same effect as drugs to a milder degree and some people find it addicting. They can experience dependency, cravings and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if abruptly cut off from sugar. Listen in to this recovery support group as they talk about their experiences with sugar.

Discussion Guide:

Can someone be addicted to sugar?

Do you crave sugar and consume large amounts of it?

Have you experienced difficulty cutting back on sugar?

Do you consume food as a means of coping with stress?

Is sugar especially dangerous to people in recovery?

Do you believe that Methadone and Suboxone cause people to gain weight?

Good nutrition is an antidote to an addict's body that has been depleted. Do you eat nutritionally balanced meals?

Supplemental Reading:

Pennelle, Olivia, Everything You Need to Know About Sugar and Early Recovery

Gallagher, James, Fruit and Veg: For a Longer Life Eat 10-a-day,

The Importance of a Clean Break

Conventional wisdom holds that it is important to avoid people, places and things associated with drug use in order to achieve and maintain drug abstinence. During recovery, people are fragile. They are exposed and vulnerable as they create a new lifestyle without the drug. If you don’t put a distance between you and the drug, you are likely to relapse. Listen to a group of people who were addicted to opiates discuss the importance of a clean break.

Discussion Guide:

Are you ready to make a clean break, or are you simply interested in managing your drug use?

Is making a clean break from your drug using lifestyle important for recovery?

Do you have loose ends that need to be tied up before you can commit to recovery?

What attempts are you making to avoid the drug environment?

What’s the hardest aspect of avoiding people, places and things for you?


Credit and appreciation is given to author, Jason M. S. for his article “The Importance of a Clean Break”. However, his identification is withheld for purposes of confidentiality.



Recovery Slogans

Anyone who has attended a 12 Step meeting has heard popular slogans such as One Day at a Time and Let Go and Let God. These catchy slogans serve as inspiration. There is often wisdom to be found in these phrases that someone struggling with an addiction can learn from. Whether you are a 12 Step member or not, you can apply the wisdom of these slogans to your recovery. Listen in to a group of opiate addicts discuss various slogans.

Discussion Guide:

Do you know of any recovery slogans?

What do these slogans mean?

Are there any particular slogans that have been meaningful to you?

Do you post the slogans in a visible place for quick and easy reference?

Supplemental Reading:

252 AA Slogans, Sober Recovery http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/alcoholism-12-step-support/1546-252-aa-slogans.html

Is Willpower Enough?

Most people would think that the addict needs willpower to achieve drug abstinence. But is it enough? Listen in to a group of people in recovery as they discuss their opinions on what it takes to make lasting change.

Discussion Guide:

Would you agree that drug abstinence is achieved through willpower?

Is your willpower stronger at certain times of the day, or in certain circumstances?

What steps are necessary to create the conditions for abstinence?

What steps have you taken to ensure success?

Supplemental Reading:

How To Overcome Addiction and Make Lasting Changes In Your Life, Benjamin Hardy http://www.huffingtonpost.com/benjamin-hardy/how-to-overcome-addiction_b_9868026.html

Is Total Abstinence Really Necessary in Recovery?

Complete and total abstinence from all mood altering substances allows a period of healing. The brain needs time to rest, habits are extinguished over time, and time transforms a person psychologically and physically. But not everyone in recovery from opiates believes that you have to be free from all substances. They may think it is sufficient to be free from their drug of choice, such as heroin or pain pills, while continuing to use alcohol or other drugs. Is total abstinence really necessary in recovery? Listen to people in this recovery group discuss their opinions on abstinence.

Discussion Guide:

Have you found that the use of other drugs, including alcohol, put you at risk of relapsing to opiates?

Do you choose to be free from all substances, or just opiates?  Which substances are you hanging on to? Why?

Do you still rely on drugs or alcohol to get through life’s hardships?

Do you have sufficient recovery tools to get through difficulties?

Supplemental Reading:

The University of New Mexico, Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA) Readiness Ruler, http://casaa.unm.edu/inst/Readiness%20Ruler.pdf


Credit and appreciation is given to author, Jason M. S. for his article “Complete Abstinence”. However, his identification is withheld for purposes of confidentiality.


Setting Goals and Achieving Milestones Can Prevent Relapse

Each day of sobriety is an important victory. Early in recovery, you count the days that you’ve been drug free. But in middle stages of recovery, the excitement wears off.  Achieving drug abstinence is only the first step in recovery. The next step is to rebuild a stable and fully functioning life. Setting goals and achieving milestones can keep you motivated.

Discussion Guide:

Do you count your days of sobriety?

Did you become stagnated in your recovery process?

Do you mark sobriety milestones with a symbol of celebration such as a medallion, chip or pin?

Once you reached a period of sobriety, did you have difficulty attaining the next level of functioning in your life, such as rebuilding a stable life?

What are your talents, passions and skills? Do you know your personality traits and core values? These form the basis of your life goals.

Supplemental Reading:

The World Needs You To Do What You Love, by Arina Nikitina http://www.goal-setting-guide.com/the-world-needs-you-to-do-what-you-love/

Credit and appreciation is given to author, Jason M. S. for his article “The Importance of Setting Goals and Milestones”. However, his identification is withheld for purposes of confidentiality.