Substance Abuse Recovery.

Avoiding slippery people, places and things is a great first step. You’ve heard this before. If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got. That includes “old you” choices.

If you are currently in treatment or have ‘graduated’ and are now out, in-community, in recovery, you need to avoid all those things that got you the things you didn’t want. Maybe things that got you in trouble with your partner, family, employer or the law.

This is what I mean by slippery people, places and things. You know the people you should not be with. You can see their faces as you read this. If you can’t, take a time out now and consider who it was that you were with when you took your first ‘hit’ of alcohol or other drugs. See the faces of your using buddies. See your dealer’s or liquor store merchant’s faces.

Those are the slippery people to avoid. Likewise, you can flashback to where you were when you used. Make a picture of those places. Avoid them.

Slippery things too can cause repeated problems for you. Stop doing the things you did that contributed to your problems. These can create what are called relapse (thinking about or using) and recidivism (thinking about or going back) to criminal activity.

Thinking you can do those things again and get better outcomes is what? _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. You can fill in that blank.

At the time of this post Covid-19, Coronavirus is a deadly, Pandemic problem. Social Distancing and face masks are just common sense. Going out when you don’t have to is also about slippery people, places and things.

This type of risky behavior can kill you. So can relapse and recidivism. We can all be tempted by irrational thinking. What do you do when that happens?

“Catch it. Check it. Change it.” I got this from Catch the limiting thought. Examine it. Where did it come from? Maybe a friend called and said “let’s go for a walk.” “Let’s have ‘a’ beer.” Whoops!

Check it. Stop the behavior and examine the positive intent. Why would you consider it? Would it make you feel better? Independent? In charge? “It’s my body and my life. I’ll do what I want.” Sound familiar?

Change it. Choose another behavior that will get you the same satisfaction. It’s just more healthy.

So whether it’s remaining abstinent (not drinking or drugging), sheltering in place at home, wearing a face mask to avoid C-19, do the right thing even if no one is looking. Avoid slippery people, places and things.

To do anything else is i n s a n i t y.


Recovery is a journey. If you have been following each blog post in order you have covered a lot of information. It could all be new to you. For someone new on the “Trail to Transendence” (beyond the road to recovery) for the first time it could be information overload.
A good idea would be to take a time out to review
this information so you can really “put all the pieces together.”
If you have a question, problem or need help just email or call me:, or, 808 385 4550.
If you don’t ask you may never know or learn – on time. You are in a contest with time.
Be certain that you understand the CBT Map image at the beginning of the blog post. Just as a computer has an operating system, so do you. The CBT Map image is your operating system.
Have you ever been logged on to your computer and trying to find a page or image when all you get is the buffering or initializing image? Maybe you are getting a recovery ‘No Wi Fi Connection” error message. How frustrating!
You could feel the same way trying to answer the ‘how to change or recover’ question. You could feel lost, confused and just going around and around.
You have a vague idea about what you want but you just can’t get there. You just keep on buffering.
You can’t get a clear image of how to transcend because that recovery page just will not open. You may just be stuck deleting, distorting or generalizing what you think are facts about the world based on your limiting beliefs, values and attitude. Who? Me? Yes – you.
So – go back and review. Then we will continue with your map of reality, your strengths and resources and how to get the outcome you truly desire.


So far I have been adding pieces of the recovery puzzle that will make your journey easier to understand and achieve. Let’s put all the pieces together. Once you master or fully understand the concept illustrated by the CBT Map at the beginning of this blog and how it relates to the 14 Recovery Themes you will notice that you have discovered how your operating system works.

It all starts with your beliefs/values system. You think about these things. You get what you think about. If you think about using you will eventually use – your addict behavior. Your reticular activating system will get it for you because that is how you are programming it. Garbage in – garbage out, GIGO as the original computer programmers called it.

You’ve been creating disempowering or limiting neural pathways. If you want different results you should do something different. Changing your thinking s not enough. You must explore and resolve your permission-granting, limiting core beliefs before you can expect long lasting change of behavior.

This is a good time to address a basic truth. You will have a very difficult time of it if you keep hanging with the same slippery people in slippery places thinking about or doing slippery things. Yes. This could be your friends, significant other partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, lover, etc.) and family.

Now, away from all the harmful elements in your life you will get a chance to reprogram your brain and reticular activating system creating new empowering neural pathways. Think about sobriety, recovery and Transcendence.

A few other things that you will need to know and understand is how you navigate or make sense out of your world. Are you visual, auditory or kinesthetic (a see, hear or feel person?)? These are three major senses that we use exploring our realities. Use your primary preferred learning style first to create new images, sounds or feelings.

It’s important too to realize that all behavior has a positive intent and we do things to move away from pain and toward pleasure. The Pain-Pleasure Cycle is the result of how we create our mental or emotional states. We are all capable of changing our emotional state in a flash – in the blink of an eye. Some say instantly.

Try this. Think of a situation that is mildly upsetting. Maybe a 4-5 on a 1-10 scale where 1 is mild and 10 is extreme. Make an image of that situation. See what you see, hear what you hear and feel what you feel. Be in it fully.

Now – with your eyes closed if you can, jump up and down and around turning in a circle and with a smile on your face (you need the smile) say out loud – I’VE GOT A WIENER NOSE AND STINKY FEET! Repeat it. WIENER NOSE AND STINKY FEET! Lol, can you believe it? You changed how you felt in an instant.

What did you learn in this post? Beliefs and values lead to thinking, feelings, emotions and behavior. You know about the 14 Recovery Themes and you know that you have a preferred learning system (VAK) in addition to smell and taste. You learned that you are in control of your thoughts, feelings and emotions. You can change how you feel in an instant.

Now – some people looked at the wiener nose idea and just blew it off without trying it. Why? Because of their beliefs. They believed it was silly or not possible. But that’s the whole point. It starts with your beliefs. If what you are doing isn’t working you must do something different: ANYTHING! More on this in the next post.


                 “Clients already have the resources they need to explore and resolve their issues.” Carl Rogers

The second part of that quote is “given a healthy environment.” That’s the purpose of this blog: to create a healthy environment to explore and resolve your own issues. As you have read in previous posts behavior change begins with a change in beliefs.

We all need to be willing to explore our belief system as well as be willing to say goodbye and let go of “Old You” limiting beliefs that may have been causing you behavior, relationship and career opportunities your whole life.

You have the strengths and resources inside you already to change some of these beliefs as well as the feelings and emotions that go with them. Would you watch a movie you did not like again and again? If there is a song on the radio that you absolutely do not like do you continue to listen to it to the end? No!

You turn off the radio, change the station or whatever to change the state it put you in. Yuck! I hate that song. It makes me feel sad! So turn it off. If you like the song you probably turn it up or hit replay if you can.

The same with a T.V. program. If you don’t like what you are seeing, change the program. Flip the Script.

We can do the same things to change what we believe, what we think, how we feel and our outcomes. Consider this: you experience the world in pictures if you have sight. How we choose to view that picture is another difference that makes the difference. Something as simple as distance can change how you feel about anything.

If you see or feel it right in your face it is probably more sensitive than if you view it – over there – 20 feet away.

Let’s try something. Make a picture of something that is mildly upsetting for you. Something that is a five on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is really powerful (good or bad). One is pretty much nothing at all.

Maybe something that happened with your significant other. Maybe with a co-worker or boss. Let’s say it was your mother. She scolded or belittled you for something.

Make a picture or hologram of her scolding you. Put in right in front of you. Right in your face. She’s scolding, yelling and accusing you of something. On a 1-10 scale how bad does it feel? Now, move it slowly away from you a couple of feet at a time to where the picture is 20 feet away. Slowly, slowly, it’s getting smaller and more quiet…now, how does it feel? Maybe you need to move it farther away. Does it feel the same, better or worse?

Interesting isn’t it? Now let’s try it the other way.

Make a picture of your mother about 10-15 feet away from you. This time she is praising you, saying how good you are and how much she loves you. On a scale of 1-10 how does that feel?

Now move it slowly closer, and closer as the picture seems to light up. It’s a little warmer, bigger and brighter. And you have a loving hug. How does that feel? The same, better or worse? Interesting isn’t it?

You already have all the resources you need to explore and resolve your issues given a healthy environment. More on this topic as we continue. Come on back.


Sometimes it’s easy to be really hard on ourselves and heap on the blame – for everything. That is an example of irrational thinking and hurtful, negative self-talk. We and therapists need to listen to our Meta Model clues or violations. The Meta Model will be explained more later.

Due to a faulty belief/values system our map of reality becomes clouded or distorted. Recovery Theme Six points out that “People always make the best choice available to them at the time.” There could have been many other choices had we been aware of them or stopped to examine them.

But, “Every behavior is useful in some context” as Recovery Theme Seven tells us. Even illicit drug use or other crimes are useful in some way. They’re just not legal. Selling drugs to support a habit could be useful. Quick cash, no forty hour week, pays the bill now, are all reasons one could find to use or do crime.

It’s as Oprah says: “When you know better you do better.”

So, it’s not a matter of “will you be caught? It’s a matter of when.” And if you always do what you’ve always done…you know what will happen. Back to the slammer. If you live. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. This includes drunk driving or OUID, maybe marijuana.

So, trying to build a “New You” is about and exploring more new and better choices. Carl Rogers said “Clients have the ability to explore and resolve their own issues given a healthy environment.” Hopefully this blog will provide the healthy platform you need. And remember, Choice is Better Than No Choice (Recovery Theme Number Eight). You will learn more and better choices here so you can do better.


An explanation of the relevance of the Recovery Themes could be useful at this point. It is very empowering for the clients to realize just how much control they have over their feelings and emotions.

Recovery Theme 1 is an example of how effective these themes can be for ourselves and our clients. As can be seen on the map image (p. 15, Drug Court Treatment: The Verdict) in a previous post, feelings and emotions are what lead to our behavior choices.

In the box just before that labeled Internal Maps we find that they are made of pictures, sounds, feelings, smells and taste. These are the basic five senses we use to navigate our world. They are our GPS navigation system.

The three primary senses we use in communication are visual, auditory and kinesthetic. These are see, hear and feel. Multi Modal Learning tells us that we have a preferred learning system. We are primarily either visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

The best way to learn something new is through our preferred system first. This can be strengthened by following up with the secondary and tertiary modes. It’s the same with communication. We have a preferred system and we use it over and over.

This information can be very useful understanding ourselves and others better. In subsequent posts I’m going to show how all of the Recovery Themes fit together to create a powerful strengths based tool kit. This will be developed further while explaining themes two and three.

You will see how they all work together to help you create the “New You.”