Alcoholics and Addicts in recovery are told to “Play the tape all the way through” when they are thinking about drinking or using. What does that mean? Well, it’s really quite simple. When we start to think about it, we have a tendency to romanticize it. We think about how good the burn of the booze will feel going down our throats, we think about the rush of the drug when it hits our blood stream. We savor the taste in our mouths and we long for the affect of it all. In other words, we think about the immediate effects. We can only stay in the moment.
What we don’t think about, is the consequences that will come afterward. We don’t think about the consequences, the hangovers, the pain we’d cause others, the disappointment, the shame, the sickness of the withdrawals. We don’t think about the consequences at all and that’s the problem. We aren’t capable of it. The drink or drug is the only thing that fuels our thoughts.
Play the tape all the way through means think about all the consequences BEFORE we pick up. THINK BEFORE WE DO. Take a step back and realize that we are free to make any choice we want to, but every choice comes with a consequence. We must ask ourselves if the consequence is worth making that choice. Part of our problem is that we are very impulsive people, we act before we think, then we blame our actions on everyone else. Very seldom do we think first. In recovery, we must retrain our brains and learn not to react. Is this an easy task? Hell NO! But it IS possible. It takes dedication, hard work, blind faith and determination.
EXAMPLE: You’ve been in recovery for six months, your life is slowly getting better. Suddenly you find yourself having an unusually bad day and start to think that knocking a few back would make everything feel better. When you get out of work, that’s exactly what you do. Then the next day you wake up with a head ache, find out your spouse took the kids and left, you loose your job because you were a no call no show and your car has a lot of damage but you have no idea how it got there. Suddenly you’re blaming your misery on everything else but the truth and you repeat the actions from the night before. Had you played the tape all the way through BEFORE you picked up that first drink or drug, you may have seen that your actions were not worth the risk and you would have went to a meeting, or straight home to deal with your family while telling yourself tomorrow will be a better day.
Thinking in the moment without thinking of the consequences will only make a bad situation worse. We can not accomplish anything if we pick up that first drink or drug. It is imperative that we think it through before we pick up. Time and time again, with all the people who have succeeded in recovery, one of the FIRST things we learn that as long as we stay away from that FIRST drink or that FIRST drug, we can accomplish anything. It’s that first one makes the phenomenon of craving kick into high gear and sends us off on a binge. No amount of self will or will power will get you through the phenomenon of craving. Can’t be done. The ONLY way you can make it is if you THINK BEFORE YOU ACT and refrain from acting on impulse.
I consider myself very lucky, I don’t have to play that tape all the way through in my head, I actually have a tape I can play on my television if I want to remind myself of what will happen if I drink. Not everyone is that lucky, but you can play it in your brain and have the same results if you think long and hard enough. If you are in a program, when you start feeling like you want to use, get to a meeting, call your sponsor, or call another alcoholic or addict. The buddy system helps much more than you would think it does. The point is, you must do whatever you must do in order to avoid the thoughts and cravings from getting the best of you. If you fail to put these tools to use, then you will surely fail and end up back where you were. The choice is yours
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist
February 8, 2015