4 Ds of Relapse Prevention
Beat Cravings!There are many, many tools to use for relapse prevention, but the 4 Ds of relapse prevention are simple are require only the discipline to put them into action. The 4 Ds are: Delay, Distract, De-Stress, and De-catastrophize. We have discussed using urges and cravings, but they’re not always possible to prevent, even when we do our best to remove behavioral cues from our world. De-stress Yourself! Cravings don’t last for hours; a very long craving will last about 30 minutes, usually less. Every time you beat a craving, you build up a track record of success. Each craving after will be more tolerable. In time, cravings themselves will go away. The following craving beaters may seem simple, but they do work.
- Delay: What are we delaying? The decision on whether or not we’re going to use. Sometimes it’s a minute to minute battle. Sometimes we can say, “in 10 minutes, I’ll hang on for 10 more minutes,” and while it seems like 10 to 30 minutes is stretching out forever, remind yourself that it’s not. It’s a fraction of your day.
- De–Stress: Lower your stress level by remember to deep breathe (another D!). Focusing on the rise and fall of your own deep, diaphragm based breathing. Cravings are painful. When we’re in pain, our breathing becomes shallow, based on the upper part of our lungs. We can’t get enough oxygen and the body stresses out even more. Take deep, steady breaths.
- Distract: Find something and do it–other than using. Yes, I’ve had a craving before and I know that the craving can become the whole world. You can fight that–and yes, you must fight. Resisting an urge or craving is not a passive, “hope for the best” situation. You must exert some of your inner strength. Whether the something you do to distract yourself is flip channels, tidy up your workspace, walk up and down the corridors at work, or doodle, it depends on you.
- De-Catastrophize (Do Not Panic): Think of how much stronger you’ll be when you get through this craving. Don’t start the panic cycle of thinking where your mind starts gibbering that you are going insane, can’t take it anymore, must-run-screaming. We often experience our minds spinning out of control with negative thinking, but the idea of positive thinking is too often filled with the concept of us running through a field of flowers. Instead of a complex positive idea, try repeating to yourself, “I’m ok, I’m hanging on, I’m hanging in. I’m ok, I’m getting better, I’m hanging on, I’m hanging in”. This is a kind of mantra, and mantras exist to focus the mind in one direction. Thus it has a double positive effect–you’re distracting yourself from your pain and placing your mind toward success.
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