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Avoid Relapse Drift-How to get and keep your recovery secure.

Avoiding Relapse Drift-(Adapted from the Matrix Model Tx Curriculum)

How It Happens

Relapse doesn’t happen suddenly. It does not

happen without warning, and it does not happen quickly.

The gradual movement, however, can be so subtle and so easily explained away

(denied) that often a relapse feels like it happened suddenly. This slow movement

away from sobriety can be compared to a ship gradually drifting away from where

it was moored. The drifting movement can be so slow that you don’t even notice it.

This is the Trigger—->Thought—->Craving—->Use Pattern. Knowing what this is for you, or going backwards from the last time you picked up is super helpful. More on that in another lesson.

During recovery, each person does specific things that work to keep him or her sober.

These “mooring lines” need to be clearly stated and listed in a very specific way so

they are understandable and measurable. (Think SMART Goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Sensitive) These are the ropes that hold the recovery

in place and prevent the relapse drift from happening without being noticed.

Maintaining a Recovery

Use the Mooring Lines Recovery Chart to list and track the things that are

holding your recovery in place. Follow these guidelines when filling out the form:

1. Identify four to six specific things that are now helping you stay sober

(for example, working out for twenty minutes, three times per week).

2. Include items such as exercise, therapist and group appointments, scheduling,

outside spiritually based meetings, and eating patterns.

3. Do not list attitudes. They are not as easy to measure as behaviors.

4. Note specific people or places that are known triggers and need to be avoided

during recovery.

The checklist should be completed regularly (probably weekly) like a mini inventory. When two or more

items cannot be checked, it means that relapse drift is happening. Sometimes things

loosen your mooring lines. Vacations, illnesses, and holidays sometimes cannot be

controlled. The mooring lines disappear. Many people relapse during these times. Use

the chart to recognize when you are more likely to relapse and decide what to do to

keep this from happening.

Mooring Lines Recovery Chart

It is too easy to accidentally drop one or more of these mooring lines and allow your

recovery to drift toward relapse. Writing it out and practicing these new behaviors and occasionally checking to make sure the lines are secure can be very useful.

Use the chart below to list those activities that are very important to your continuing

recovery. If there are specific people or things you need to avoid, list them. Check your list regularly to see if you’re staying anchored in your recovery. Sometimes mooring lines change too, so keep that in mind and be kind to yourself!

Mooring Lines














I am Avoiding





For a printable version of this chart send an email to info@lorilauridsen.com


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