Planning For High Risk Situations
"People do not plan to fail, they fail to plan." This is the quote that always comes to my mind when I think of one of the major factors that differentiates the clients with whom I work who struggle with abstaining from or moderating their substance use (including alcohol) from those who are successfully able to do so. A high risk situation is any scenario that leaves an individual vulnerable to substance use. This can include an event that involves substance use, such as a wedding reception or a party. It can also include any situation where one is in the company of people with whom he or she used to engage in substance use. In addition, it can consist of being in a location that one associates with substance use, such as a bar, or any environment where one spent a lot of time getting high. Through the observations of, as well as the feedback I have received from my clients, the better prepared one is for these situations, the better one is able to successfully navigate them without using, or in the case of one who is moderating his or her use, without binging. Of course, the best option is to avoid these situations all together, but there are times when they are unavoidable, such as an important business meeting or event that must be attended as a requirement for one's job. It is important to have a plan that is as specific and detailed as possible. This includes considering how long should one stay, the preparation of refusal skills for handling pressure from others to drink or use, and having an "escape plan", where one can easily leave the situation whenever it is neccessary, which includes not relying on transportation from another individual who will not be willing to leave at any time, especially once one becomes uncomfortable with the environment or begins to feel the temptation to use. Entering these situations without preparation, or with a haphazard plan, leaves one unprepared to deal with the temptations or discomfort of these scenarios, which increases the risk of relapse or binging.
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