Thought Stopping Techniques
TRIGGER > THOUGHT > CRAVING > USE
The only way to ensure that a thought won’t lead to a relapse is to stop the thought
before it leads to craving. Stopping the thought when it first begins prevents it from
building into an overpowering craving. It is important to do it as soon as you realize
you are thinking about using.
To start recovery, it is necessary to interrupt the trigger–thought–craving–use
sequence. Thought stopping provides a tool for disrupting the process.
This process is not automatic. You make a choice either to continue thinking about
using (and start on the path toward relapse) or to stop those thoughts.
Try the techniques described below, and use those that work best for you:
Visualization. Imagine a scene in which you deny the power of
thoughts of use. For example, picture a switch or a lever in your mind.
Imagine yourself actually moving it from ON to OFF to stop the
using thoughts. Have another picture ready to think about in place
of those thoughts.
Relaxation. Feelings of hollowness, heaviness, and cramping in the stomach are
cravings. These often can be relieved by breathing in deeply (filling lungs with air)
and breathing out slowly. Do this three times. You should be able to feel the tightness
leaving your body. Repeat this whenever the feeling returns.
Call someone. Talking to another person provides an outlet for your feelings and
allows you to hear your thinking process. Have phone numbers of supportive,
available people with you always, so you can use them when you need them.
-Katie McGrath, M.S.