My child’s substance use disorder took me through Hell and back, and I can return there — -illogically and instantly—with the right trigger. The “bad old days” telephone ring tone pealing from a stranger’s purse or pocket cell phone, a misplaced piece of jewelry, an unrecognized voice on our answering machine…those innocent events can throw me into a major tailspin.
My relapse is independent of my child’s recovery. It has a voice of its own, which can pop up like a demonic Jack-in-the-Box with the slightest provocation. I still struggle with this today and want to know how I can slam the lid on the Jack-in-the-Box, short of tying myself to the leg of a good therapist. Aha! I may have just discovered the solution. But first, a primer on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT method is an evidence-based practice that helps us understand what triggers our feeling such as fear or anxiety. The first step is to identify what is going on (the situation), and then figure out what we are thinking about the situation and, finally, to understand the feelings/emotions associated with our thoughts. So if I misplace some jewelry (the situation), I might suspect my son has relapsed and stolen it, which drives me into a frenzy of panic and worry. I need to learn to replace those negative and inaccurate thoughts with the truth, which is simply “I cannot locate my bracelet at the moment”. Nothing more, nothing less. And Eureka! There’s an app for that.
I just read about a product called CBT ABC which is designed to help my brain be a good fact checker. It can stop me from climbing onto the ledge in the first place. It can help me focus on what I know to be true. A stranger’s cell phone is ringing? It is simply a stranger’s cell phone ringing. End of story. No need to call in my personal renegading army of fear and distress.
I haven’t used this app yet, and the manufacturer notes at it is not a substitute for professional or medical or mental health advice. Still, it could be a valuable—and mobile — tool in my toolkit of recovery. It’s certainly worth a look.