People, Places and Things

Sobriety medallion
Sobriety medallion (Photo credit: annrkiszt)

When I was new in sobriety and going to my outpatient group along with attending four or five AA meetings a week, I heard “people, places and things” a lot. When I was out drinking, using and being a degenerate, my people, places and things were drug dealers, bars and excuses to give me the fuel to drink or use more.

My very first time in an attempt to get sober was in January of 2005.  Now, my reasons for wanting to get clean and sober were inwardly pathetic.  I told my dad I did not want to get high or drunk anymore.  He said, “Darlene, is this an attempt to detox so it won’t take so much to get drunk or high?”  “Of course not, Dad.  I really mean it!” So on New Year’s Day in 2005 my dad drove me up to Livengrin in Bensalem, PA and dropped me off to detox for four days.

Now, when I went in there, my dad was right on the money.  That was exactly why I wanted to go to detox. But after being in there and getting weaned off of opiates and detoxing from alcohol and spending time with people who had it far worse than I did, I changed my mind. I really did want to get clean and sober.

After four days in detox, I got out and felt refreshed.  I had a roommate who lived in Bucks County (I was living in Philadelphia at the time) and we exchanged numbers so we could hit a meeting in a couple of days.

I went to an AA meeting with her; it was the only AA meeting I attended in 2005.  My dealer lived right down the street from me and I knocked on her door about seven days after I had gotten out of detox, told her I just got out of detox and asked her if she had anything. She looked at me stupefied.  Looking back, I do not blame her.

See, people, places and things are huge in recovery.  I am not saying that everyone that goes into recovery or treatment or gets clean and sober should move, change their name and paint their dog, but it is a good idea to be aware of triggers (people, places and things).

How I avoided people, places and things:

1)      I moved.  This is not possible for everyone, but it helped me.

2)      For the first few months of my sobriety, I avoided passing establishments (places) I previously frequented.

3)      I worked on what my triggers were and went to great lengths to recognize them; not embellish them and use them as an excuse to drink.

For those who cannot move, I suggest building a strong sober network and keeping in touch with those people.  Addicts and alcoholics still active in their addiction/alcoholism feel resentful at those trying to get sober.  And while they will not necessarily try to drag someone down who is trying to get clean and sober, they will not exactly be on your cheering squad.

I have a friend I used to get high with and had coffee with him a couple of times after being new in sobriety.  I could not figure out why I had an awful knot in my stomach and wanted to get high each time I was in his presence.

Thankfully, I had a great sponsor and was in outpatient therapy at the time (both of these helped me greatly) that gave me the tools to recognize that he was a “people” and I needed to cut ties for a while.

Do you have any people, places or things that trigger you into bad behavior?

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Bored? Try This…

Every once in a while I get bored. Most times I have the ability to cure my boredom with one of the following twenty-five ways to cure boredom. If you are bored, or will be bored shortly.. try one or many of the following ways to cure boredom. Some of them are pretty common, like going for a walk or dancing to music. Others are not so common, like going snail hunting. Snail hunting is very time consuming! Not only are snails epically slow, but they are especially good at hiding.

Going to a mall without your wallet is a tough one. However, I have gone to the mall without my wallet and maybe 5 bucks in my pocket for a coffee. I walked the mall, looked in the stores and people watched. I saw a few things I wanted to buy (a few people too), but my wallet was at home. This turned out to be a great idea, because by the time I got home, I hadn’t remembered what I wanted to buy. I saved myself some cash.

As far as applying to a job you think you’ve not a snowball’s chance in Honduras of getting, I’m not saying a job that is completely out of your league. It is good to apply for positions you have some skills in, or may even have an interest in, like a zoo keeper.

Give a few of these a try.  If you have some better ideas you’d like to share with the rest of us, please do.

1) Write a poem.
2) Go for a walk.
3) Go for a walk and take pictures.
4) Listen to music and analyze the lyrics.
5) Dance to music.
6) Rearrange your cabinets.
7) Rearrange your schedule.
8) Go snail hunting.
9) Go to the mall; leave your wallet at home.
10) Listen to a type of music you’ve never listen to.
11) Watch a foreign movie.
12) Go to the library.
13) Doodle a picture story.
14) Use song titles to write a short story.
15) Apply to a job you’ve no chance of getting (you never know).
16) Make up cryptograms and put them away to solve the next time you are bored.
17) Volunteer somewhere. Anywhere.
18) Go through your closet and get rid of clothes you never wear.
19) Go for a drive without your GPS and get lost.
20) Start a conversation with a stranger.
21) Write a paragraph of how you would like people to perceive you.
22) Write a paragraph of how you think people perceive you.
23) Write a letter to a soldier.
24) Pick flowers and put them on a random grave.
25) Visit a historical site and take notes. Blog about it.