One of the most important skills that any addict can develop is awareness of their addictive cycle.
The following is a modified diagram from “Treating Pornography Addiction” (Sponsored link) a book by Dr. Kevin B. Skinner . (Click on the image below to see a higher resolution copy)
Notice that after a person goes past the initial four stages, the body begins to undergo a chemical reaction; from this point on it becomes very difficult to deactivate the “launch sequence”. Therefore it is very important to learn to recognize the signs of danger before it is too late.
There are thing that can be done to help addicts get out of their addictive cycle. Simply becoming consciously aware of the cycle is already half of the battle.
Vulnerable situations are part of life, therefore it become crucial to prepare for future circumstances and develop a plan of action, and practice this plan, before any tempting situations occur.
The first key is to recognize the vulnerable situation, and to try to avoid any triggers all together. Unfortunately avoiding triggers is nearly impossible in our society, and sooner or later an addict will be exposed to a trigger. There are, however, plenty of healthy things that can be done, instead of acting out. Some of the helpful tools are meditation, journaling about the triggering event, making a phone call to a recovery partners, breathing exercises, and, best of all, any healthy activity outside of the acting out location.
If the critical point has been reach, and body language began to change, it is helpful to measure persons pulse rate, take 10 – 15 very deep breaths, and follow through with execution of the healthy escape plan. After the person begins to feel better, it is important to confirm that the body has returned to its normal state by measuring the pulse rate once again, and comparing it to the “acting out” pulse. The key is to lower the pulse rate by at least 5-10 beats per minute.
Deep breathing really is the key part, since it is the only subconscious bodily function that we can control consciously. Think about it. We can’t control our heart rate, we can’t control our blood pressure, we can’ control our sweat glands, but we can control our breathing. Therefore, whenever anybody find himself or herself in a difficult situation, it is always best to take a deep breath.
If the person was unable to stop, and a slip has occurred, it is important not to beat himself or herself up. A slip is definitely not something to be proud of, and yet it is not the end of the world. As long as the person is in recovery, and as long as he or she keeps working and learning, he/she will get healthier. The point after a slip, is to use this opportunity to learn as much as possible about the addictive cycle that took place, and then use this information to further improve the recovery plan.