How Can I Cope With Temptation in Recovery?

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For those of us new to the rooms of recovery, the temptation can be a part of everyday life early on. The good news is, many of us find what the book Alcoholics Anonymous says to be true; “We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality — safe and protected.” This position of neutrality is achieved through working a 12-Step program in its entirety and continuing to actively participate in the 12-Step program as a way of life. It does come if we work for it, but working the Twelve Steps may take some of us a little time. What can we do about temptation in the meantime, until we reach that beautiful position of neutrality?

Temptation Takes Many Forms

First things first, let’s get familiar with what we’re dealing with. Temptation can take many forms. It can be mental or physical. Temptation can come from being out at a restaurant, or watching television when a certain commercial comes on. It can happen to any of us at any time, but we must remember that temptation doesn’t always have to be part of our lives. So long as we work a 12-Step program and embrace the recovery lifestyle, we are on our way to the position of neutrality where temptation becomes a thing of the past.

Remember what our alcoholism means, the mental obsession is a part of our disease. Often temptation comes from the mental obsession or sets upon as a result of temptation. This means temptation is a side effect of our alcoholism and addiction — and that means there is a solution! Whenever we find ourselves faced with temptation, the best thing we can do is get busy taking action on the Twelve Steps and the program of recovery. 

Speak Up

It may seem counterintuitive at first. Indeed, it can be difficult for most of us in recovery, especially when we are new and first starting. However, when we are experiencing temptation often, the best thing we can do is share how we’re feeling. We may have trouble opening up, or we may be embarrassed that we’re feeling tempted. We must remember it’s normal, and not permanent. Often, opening up to someone we trust can help take the power out of the negative feelings. The person we open up to may have helpful advice from their own experience overcoming temptations and negative feelings, as well. 

It may be difficult at first, but when we are experiencing mental obsession or finding ourselves tempted, it can often save our recovery to be open and upfront about it. We will find no shortage of people who can relate and are willing to help. 

Keep Working

Temptation is more common when we are new to recovery, but it can happen to anyone at any time. Wherever we are in our recovery, often the best thing we can do to be rid of temptation is to work on the program of recovery. Not only are the Twelve Steps the only path to the position of neutrality, but they are the solution to all our problems — especially temptation. 

When we’re feeling tempted, or the mental obsession has hold of us, the best thing we can do is get to work. Wherever we are in a 12-Step program, whatever the next step in front of us is, we should take it with haste and attention. It doesn’t matter if we’re on the first step or the twelfth step, when we feel tempted, there is recovery work we can do to keep ourselves safe and avoid temptation. Getting busy in recovery ensures our sobriety and safety for another day. If we experience temptation and avoid working the recovery program, we must remember we are putting our very lives at risk. 

Stay Safe

Sometimes temptation seems to follow us wherever we go, or worse, the mental obsession has us in its grip. In these toughest of times, we must remember the preceding advice, and get busy working the Twelve Steps. We must reach out and share our feelings with others. If we are doing both these things and still feeling tempted, we may need to take more responsibility for our exposure to temptation. 

Are we going to lots of places with no sober people? Are we out at places where drinking or drug use is taking place? Are we watching television shows that feature drugs or alcohol prominently? Are we spending time at old haunts, or engaging in old behaviors from when we were in our disease? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” we need to take a look at this, and then take a step back. We may be plagued by temptation because we are new to recovery and not doing enough to avoid it. We must reflect honestly on our choices, and take notice of how they affect us. 

Help Others

“The Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous makes mention of one final tip to employ. “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.” Simply put, when nothing else is working to solve the problem before us, we must get busy helping others. The Big Book ensures us that this works when nothing else has. If we find ourselves facing temptation, and nothing else is helping, we should find some way to be of service as soon as possible. 

Jaywalker Lodge knows the struggles we all face in early recovery. In fact, for many of us, those early struggles were too much. We failed to achieve and maintain sobriety until we experienced proper education, integration into a thriving recovery community and had deep, personal experiences with both our alcoholism and a 12-Step solution. Now we enjoy lasting, long-term recovery. This is how we know that recovery is possible for anyone — because it was possible for us. Temptation is a common obstacle in early recovery, but Jaywalker Lodge wholeheartedly believes in a 12-Step program of recovery. The book Alcoholics Anonymous ensures us that working the Twelve Steps will place us in a “position of neutrality” to the things that used to tempt us. More than this, the Twelve Steps are the solution to the mental obsession that is part of our disease. If you are struggling with your recovery, Jaywalker Lodge is here to help you. Call us today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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