Many people who begin the process of becoming clean and sober cling to the idea that they can continue to hold on to some parts of their drinking/using lifestyle, especially their friends who might still be using. Often, people who make the decision to get clean and sober continue to hang onto the hope that they can continue to use other substances without negative consequences. They sometimes believe that a specific drug, person, or place is “The Problem”. Often, alcoholics or addicts may not consider the use of other drugs a problem. When the idea of being addicted or an addict does come up the idea is often dismissed as not being applicable – the “not me” syndrome. Denial and absence of insight make past drug use, or even recent use, seem unimportant.
To help in challenging the memories and distorted beliefs that you or someone you know may still have about a relationship to drugs The Cross Addiction Worksheet is presented here.
Here are three questions taken from The Cross Addiction Worksheet by Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D:
- Start at the beginning of your alcohol and other drug use. Develop a time line where you write down your first use of alcohol and/or other drugs, how much you used of what, how often, and any recollections of problems or negative consequences from that use.
- Name your most recent drug(s) of choice. Identify the roles this chemical has recently played in your life. Did you drink or use other drugs to be more outgoing, to not feel feelings, to reduce stress, to help you sleep at night, to forget problems or events? Write down a list of “things” that you used the chemical for. Look back at your use of other drugs (including alcohol) and identify other drugs that you used for the same purposes.
- Addiction exists in a social and cultural context. Alcoholics/addicts tend to pick people for their “friendship networks” that are using alcohol and other drugs the way that they are. Make a list of people that you have used alcohol and other drugs with. Name the drugs that you did with these friends/acquaintances. Identify which of the people on this list have been part of your most recent group of drinking/using friends? What drugs are they likely to have? Who on this list have you decided to not be around in recovery? Which ones were involved in your using other drugs at other times in your life. Which people on the list present a link to your old drugs of choice, or to other drugs? Who, on your lists do you need to avoid?
Now that you’ve answered the questions, what’s next? If you believe that you or someone you love is has a problem with drugs or alcohol there are many resources to help you get started down a new path. Your first step might be to find a nearby AA or Al-Anon meeting or just to decide not to drink or use today. The first step in the path to recovery is to recognize that there is a problem.