A Portable Lapse Prevention Plan

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Randy Lindel, Facilitator, SMART Recovery Boston

A “lapse” or a “slip” is a brief reengagement with your addictive behavior. Usually, you feel bad about it right afterwards, but weren’t able to successfully avoid it.

Many lapses are triggered by unforeseen events. Some pressure just occurs out of the blue. It’s an important reminder that you can’t control everything – what other people say or do or what happens that you didn’t expect. Strong emotions can result quickly and produce powerful urges.

But, there IS something you can do. And that’s to have a plan for the unexpected.

In SMART Recovery, we have many strategies to use when you know you’re going to be in a social situation. You “play the tape forward,” thinking through the event and develop your plan to deal with what you’re expecting to happen. After being in a few different situations, you refine your plan to a point that it starts to become automatic.

The difference for the unexpected situation is that your plans are in the back of your mind and the current events may make them hard to find and use while you’re in an emotional state. What you need now is help to access your plans. And a great way to have that help ready is to –
Write your Lapse Prevention Plan on an index card that you keep in your wallet, purse or someplace that’s always accessible. What’s on your card can be any strategy that you think can help. At my regular meeting this week, here are some ideas the group came up with for a card:

Whatever your list, just make sure they are approaches you think will be good to deal with strong emotions and urges. With your “plan in your pocket,” you won’t have to worry about making one up when you really need it.

For a list of SMART Recovery meetings near you visit https://www.smartrecovery.org/local/

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