Series Three: Blog Sixty-Six
For people who play racquetball, the strategy is to position yourself on the court as to give you the best chance to manage most of the shots. Some people refer to this position as the sweet spot on the court. This space on the court creates the best advantage to reach most of the shots made by an opponent.
I borrow this term to apply to relapse prevention from addiction. Some addicts in recovery tout they have been cured from their addictive urges. Most however have not. To those who battle craving to use or struggle with destructive patterns of living, it is important to increase awareness of high-risk behaviors and situations that build temptation and trigger addictive acting out. Increasing mindfulness to high-risk experiences with strategic plans to manage these challenges creates an awareness of sweet spot. This will empower you to manage high-risk situations and reframe the curse of craving into a blessing of connecting with the legitimate need within that must be met in a healthy way. The awareness sweet spot is a way of living in the power of your adult wise mind.
Dr. Patrick Carnes created a Personal Craziness Index. The index is designed to help you increase awareness of vulnerable areas of life that if left untended expands the possibility of relapse. You identify a certain number of behaviors in your life that you choose to pay attention to regularly. When an area is left untended for a given time frame, you give yourself a point. At the end of a given time frame (a week or month) you total the points and establish a scale that determines the level of risk you are toward relapse. If the total is low, then your vulnerability to relapse is low. The higher the number the more likelihood of relapse. It’s a way of paying attention to the buildup that leads to destructive behaviors.
There are many ways to manage build-up behaviors and relapse triggers in addiction recovery. Most addicts struggle to create or adopt their own strategy, leaving them vulnerable to whims and circumstances that unfold in everyday life that lead to high-risk and to using.
In 12-step work addicts are asked to create a behavioral sobriety contract. In the contract they are asked to identify high-risk zones or behaviors that do not designate acting out but are high-risk, that if neglected lead to relapse. This section of the contract is referred to as “yellow light” or “middle circle” behaviors. The goal of this section of a sobriety contract is to establish a sweet spot of awareness that gives the addict an insider advantage to managing the urges and cravings that are inevitable in relapse prevention.
Vigilance in these five areas will yield the reward of long-term sobriety and balanced living. Addicts in recovery will spend most of their recovery lives managing these 5 areas of living. When addicts are hyper vigilant about high-risk zones, they tend to go off the rails and relapse. Hyper vigilance is usually triggered by trying to please someone or prove to another that you are serious about recovery. It is not sustainable. Balanced recovery is present when an addict is accountable to a support community without hyper vigilance to please another. This is what is identified as the awareness sweet spot.
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