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The Road To Fort Worth

Read » Chapter 8: Danville

Using Visualization To Allay The Obsession To Drink

If you're a recovering alcoholic or addict, you know that one of the big stumbling blocks to maintaining continuous sobriety is experiencing an overwhelming obsession to drink/use. There are few people in recovery who miss this wonderful opportunity to test their sobriety!

When you're driven by an obsession, you're like a race horse running out of the starting gate, blinded to everything but the finishing line. All you can think about is the moment when a drink will wash away your overwhelming feelings. You usually don't think about the disastrous consequences of using, but act on your overwhelming feelings.

Two points are relevant here. 1. You don't have to act on your feelings. No matter how urgent you think your present needs are, the feelings will pass in time. 2. You have to find a way to distract yourself from your present thoughts and feelings to regain the perspective that using could be fatal. Visualization offers such a distraction and is further described below.

Once you learn how to get to the other side of the obsession to drink, you know that you'll be able to stay sober a day at a time no matter what comes your way.

Although the obsession to drink may seem to be spontaneous, it is usually preceded by a highly charged emotional crisis, like a romantic breakup or the loss of a job. Your sobriety will be greatly enhanced if you learn visualization, progressive relaxation and deep breathing techniques early in your recovery. They will help you to balance different areas of your life and help you in a time of crisis. A holistic approach to recovery, which includes a recovery program, diet, exercise, and spirituality is always the best approach to take. And when you feel you're approaching a crisis situation, seek the advice of others in recovery.

Following is a visualization that can help you to work your way through the obsession to drink. Of course, you'll want to create your own visualization, and you can use this one as a guide. Have a friend record the dialogue so you'll have it as you require.

An Example of A Visualization Exercise:

You enter a darkly lit room with three spotlights focused on three caldrons on a table. A sign hangs over the table which reads: I Cannot Be Ignored. By thinking about an obsession as an entity, it is easier to fight than a feeling.

The first caldron is boiling over with a slimy, green liquid. It is marked: Physical Health. It has a metallic smell, and you lean over to smell the odor. The fumes burn your eyes, much like ammonia would, and make you cough. Your disgusted by the smell and the look of the liquid. You want to vomit, like you've done so many times when you were drinking, followed by the dry heaves of the next morning. Then you think about the disease within your body caused by your addiction. You focus on the awful hangovers you've had. And you know that addiction only causes disease and death. You're beginning to feel less driven to relapse.

The second caldron contains a yellowish-grey colored mass, bubbling like thick pudding in a pot. It is marked: Mental Health. You lean over the pot to smell the liquid. It has the odor of putrid, spoiled milk. One of the bubbles splits open, spewing a stream of hot liquid on your face. In the background, you hear the sound of a locomotive approaching. It's far away, though it's getting closer. You think about the dark cloud of anxiety that has engulfed you each time you drink. You think about the blackouts you've had, the foolish statements that you've made, and the meaningless life that has brought you to this moment. You don't want to drink. You want to escape from the room, but you're unable to leave.

The third caldron is emitting a thick, black layer of smoke. It is marked: Spiritual Life. You can't breathe. You try to move away from the smoke, but it surrounds you. You feel like your feet are heavy weights holding you in place. The smoke smells like burning rubber. You think about the sins you've committed against your fellow man, and you begin to cry. You cry to God to help you.

You're released from the bondage of the three caldrons and walk down a dimly lit hallway to the door. When you open the door, the light is blinding for a moment, then you smell the fragrance of flowers, first roses, then orange blossoms. It's a beautiful morning with billowing clouds floating overhead. You're in a courtyard leading to another door. When you open the door, you find a light, airy room. There's another table in front of you marked by a sign that reads: God Is Love. Three beautiful porcelain urns sit on the table.

The first urn is emitting the odor of Jasmine. It is marked: Physical Health. You touch the clear liquid in the vase and it's the same temperature as your body. You have a feeling of awe, realizing that your body is healing, and you'll never again have to feel the agony that alcohol causes. You don't want to drink.

The second urn is marked: Mental Health. It has the odor of food baking in the oven. You feel calm and confident. Your thinking has become clear. Most of all, you're no longer afraid. You don't think of drinking at all.

The third urn is marked: Spiritual Life. A wispy cloud rises from the vase and engulfs you. You immediately feel warm and satisfied, like the hand of God has touched you. A sweet, silent song plays in your soul, and you slowly leave the wonder of your visualization, take a deep breath and smile.

Learning how to breathe from the diaphragm will help you to relax during a visualization. The more that you concentrate on the visualization, the better it will work in producing change.

The first part of the visualization is completely negative because alcoholism is completely negative. In the second part, you're concentrating on what you've gained through your sobriety. Use all of your senses when you visualize a scene: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Remember that your primary task during a crisis is to wait until your thoughts and feelings return to normal. Don't act on negative feelings. You'll have a feeling of elation once you reach the other side of an obsession to drink.

Copyright ©2012 Michael Jackson Smith

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