Important Tool For Recovery From Addiction – Play The Tape by

When most people come into recovery, they are frozen substantial in emotional emotions like grief, self-pity, loathing, fear, hurt and victimization. They may not be able to articulate it, but this phrase sums it up: “There are two things that I despise the most, change, and the way things are.” Frozen substantial.

What happens for most people is that the love, acceptance and identification in the 12 step rooms starts to thaw them out. They can start to get soft and malleable enough to hear some new ideas and ways of thinking. Then they are told, that they only have to change one thing, but that is everything!

Alcoholics and addicts of all kinds have one thing in shared, that is short-sightedness, looking for moment gratification. There is a joke in the 12 step rooms about how you can tell its social drinker when they say something like, “let’s save some of this (alcohol or drugs or cake) for later”. The recovering alcoholics in the room just laugh at this strange thinking. In the mind of an active addict, there is no ‘later’. It is just the extremely NOW. And in recovery, this starts to shift, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

A great tool that every newcomer should have given to them for their tool kit of recovery is the phrase, “Play the tape by to the end”. We are not talking here about replacing the negative tape for the positive tape but rather playing the tape by to the end, and finding out the end of the story.

For the non-alcoholic or addict, let me explain what this method. Almost all alcoholics have a memory of using, usually very early in their drinking career, of euphoria: “Six foot tall and bulletproof”, “prettiest girl in the room”, “I can dance”, “I am loved”, “I belong in the Universe”, “I am not a mistake”, and so on. It is that euphoric ingemination that keeps the addict picking up again and again, looking for that moment. It is usually strongly connected to the sound of a beer opening, or the ice cube tinkle in the glass when the first, fresh drink is poured, the successful transaction with the dealer, or opening that fresh package of cigarettes and folding down the foil… This is the moment that people new in recovery are playing with in their head – that divided second between the anticipation, and the execution of the first puff, drink, or hit. And divided second it is, because that moment of euphoria is so fleeting, that it doesn’t exist anymore other than in that divided second of can not concentrate in the mind of the addict. But this is where the newcomer will stop the tape. Right in that divided second, and play it over and over and over, anticipation, satisfying the craving or desire, over and over.

The tool that newcomers are handed, “Play the tape by to the end”, method don’t hit the pause, rewind button, let it play by. What happens after that first glass of wine? A second glass? Third, fourth, fifth, bottle after bottle? Drinking and driving, the look on the children’s faces again when they realize you have relapsed? The dark alleys, crack houses and jail cells? The hangover for work Monday morning, the shakes, sickness, shame and remorse and already worse, the realization that you are caught again in the active addiction, and can’t stop. Play the tape by to the end.

We don’t use this tool very often other than in this particular situation, because it is a One Day At A Time program, and we try to stay out of the past in addition as the future. We try to stay in the moment. But this is one of the most powerful tools to the newcomer who may get stuck in euphoric ingemination.

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