Friday, July 19, 2013

Tag! You're It!

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

Growing up, I used to love to play a game of tag with all my friends.  We ran and ran and ran until we skinned our knees, ran into trees, and froze like zombies in order to escape hearing those dreaded works, "Tag! You're it!"  I am happy to report that I was fairly successful in avoiding being tagged but my game was not without fault.  There were a few times when I had to serve my time as the 'tagger' hoping to capture a weary 'taggee'.  

Recovery can be a game.  If you think about it, the object of any game is ultimately to win.  Strategies may change throughout the game but eventually someone has to win.  Recovery, much like any game, is a journey.  It's a process.  You spend time making a game plan (i.e. how to win).  You observe the opponent's moves and adjust accordingly.  Sometimes, it's all defense.  Other times, you take it to them with a full-court press.  And if you're lucky, a slam dunk is in order!

I'd like to suggest that you can view recovery as a game as a way to motivate your ambition to stay clean.  Whether you are a '12-Stepper' or not, the concept of 'marking your time' in recovery makes sense.  In the picture above, one of our patients displayed his 'tags' that 'mark his time' in recovery.  You can see the white 'Just for Today' tag.  And then other tags follow as clean days accumulate in increments such as 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, and 270 days.  

If you think of recovery as a game, the object is to win.  How do you win the game?  You live the rest of your life completely sober.  This is a large, ominous task for many and they fear certain doom as it relates to their ability to stick to the program of recovery.  Instead of adopting a defeatist attitude, why not shift your perspective and set up benchmarks to track your progress?

It might be slow, at first, but if you only stay sober 5 minutes at a time, that is fine.  You can keep a calendar and mark off every day you stay sober.  Another way to encourage yourself is to keep a daily journal.  It is amazing after a few months when you go back and read them how your perspective will have changed and usually for the better!  

Finally, most games require a team to help you along.  This can be a 12-Step community like A.A. or N.A. where you attend meetings regularly and hang out with other sober people.  It could be a partner that is your gym buddy and helps you meet your fitness goals.  The sky is the limit so use your imagination and get creative!  If you're like most addicts and/or alcoholics, you are very smart and creative.  You have to be in order to be so good at addiction.  Now use it for something positive to change your life!

Whatever you do, do something!  Don't let life pass you by in a drug or alcohol-fueled haze.  Sobriety and recovery are worth it.  And by the way, TAG! YOU'RE IT!!!

At The Coleman Institute, we would never tag you out of a game UNLESS it's the game of addiction.  In that case, it's game on!  We love to help free people from the chains of addiction.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox off of opiates, alcohol, benzos, Methadone or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869.  We're here for you!

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