Understanding the Terrorist Radicalization Process

February 18, 2015

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This is directly reposted from the Department of Defense (DOD) – Defense Human Resource Activity: http://www.dhra.mil/perserec/osg/terrorism/radicalization.htm I decided to post this blog on the radicalization process because the problem of terrorism appears to be growing and we all need accurate information about how people are recruited to a terrorist cause and the steps taken to motivate them to reject previous belief systems and to embrace new, radical, and often deadly beliefs, even when, on their face, they are absurd and irrational.

We must all understand the raprocess so we can recognize it early and stop the process before the radicalized individual does horrible damage.


The basic message we need to give is clear: the promises of radicalization are false and will lead to horrible inner pain and eventually death. ~ Terence T. Gorski 

Here is the DHRA Report: The Radicalization Process

There has been much research, writing, and theorizing about what causes or motivates people to become terrorists. The one consistent finding based on extensive empirical research is that there is no “terrorist profile” that can be used to predict who or even what type of person might become a terrorist.

Research clearly rules out the early theory that participation in terrorist actions is associated with some sort of personality or mental disorder, that only “crazy” people commit horrible acts of terrorism. Studies have shown that the prevalence of mental illness among incarcerated terrorists is as low or lower than in the general population. Although terrorists commit horrible acts, they rarely match the profile of the classic psychopath. They are also not necessarily from a lower socioeconomic status or less educated than their peers.1

Social scientists, law enforcement organizations, and intelligence agencies all agree that terrorists are the product of a dynamic process called radicalization.

Brian Jenkins, one of our country’s most senior terrorism scholars, defines radicalization as “the process of adopting for oneself or inculcating in others a commitment not only to a system of [radical] beliefs, but to their imposition on the rest of society.”2 The compulsion to use violence to impose their beliefs on the rest of society, or to punish others for their “evil” actions or beliefs is the final stage in the radicalization process.

The commitment to violence is what distinguishes a terrorist from other extremists. This process occurs over time and causes a fundamental change in how people view themselves and the world in which they live. The exact nature of this process is still poorly understood. Researchers have developed a number of different theories and conceptual models that seek to explain the process by which an individual becomes radicalized, but these theories have not been empirically tested.

Most see three to five stages from beginning to end of the process, from initial exposure through indoctrination, training, and then violent action. However, different researchers conceptualize these stages differently and use different terminology to identify or explain them.

There is broad agreement, however, that many people who begin this process do not pass through all the stages and become terrorists. Many people who become extremists stop short of the violence that is typical of militant jihadists.

Our focus here is on violent jihadism, and specifically on several aspects of the radicalization process about which there seems to be some consensus. While the researchers have not identified causes of terrorism, they have identified three vulnerabilities that may provide sources of motivation or make one more likely to endorse violence. These vulnerabilities are:

1. Perceived Injustice or Humiliation: Violent attack may be perceived as an appropriate remedy for injustice or humiliation.

2. Need for Identity: An individual’s search for identity may draw him or her to extremist or terrorist organizations in a variety of ways. The individual may be searching for a purpose or goal in life that defines the actions required to achieve that goal. A violent act may be seen as a way to succeed at something that makes a difference. The absolutist, “black and white” nature of most extremist ideologies is often attractive to those who feel overwhelmed by the complexity and stress of navigating a complicated world. Without struggling to define oneself or discern personal meaning, an individual may choose to define his or her identity simply through identification with a cause or membership in a group.

3. Need for Belonging: Many prospective terrorists find in a radical extremist group not only a sense of meaning, but also a sense of belonging, connectedness, and affiliation. One researcher argues that “for the individuals who become active terrorists, the initial attraction is often to the group, or community of believers, rather than to an abstract ideology or to violence.” 3

There is also some consensus on two factors that facilitated the radicalization process.. These are:

1. Spiritual Mentor: About 20% of the homegrown terrorists examined in one study had a spiritual mentor, a more experienced Muslim who gave specific instructions and direction during the radicalization process. Such a mentor might be associated with a mosque or be accessed via the Internet. The mentor keeps the radicalization process on track. About a quarter of the terrorists in one study had a perceived religious authority who provided specific theological approval for their violent activity. 4

2. Internet: The increased radicalization of American Muslims is driven in part by a wave of English-language websites designed to promote the militant jihadist doctrine. These websites are not run or directed by al-Qaida, but they provide a powerful tool for recruiting sympathizers to its cause of jihad, or holy war against the United States, according to experts who track this activity. Jihadist websites and chat rooms provide indoctrination and training to aspiring jihadists and enable them to establish contact with like-minded individuals in the United States or with terrorist groups abroad. “The number of [active] English-language sites sympathetic to al-Qaida has risen from about 30 seven years ago to more than 200 recently,” according to the head of a Saudi government program that works to combat militant Islamic websites.5

Terrorism is not random violence for its own sake. It is violence guided by an ideology that provides the rules for one’s behavior. “Ideology is often defined as a common and broadly agreed upon set of rules to which an individual subscribes, and which help to regulate and determine behavior.”6 The rules often link behaviors to anticipated long-term positive outcomes and rewards. This is the basis for the suicide attacks that are characteristic of violent jihad. By fulfilling one’s duty to God by killing infidels, one allegedly gains access to paradise.

The ideology that supports militant jihad is very different in its substance from other forms of extremism or terrorism such as white supremacy groups or eco-terrorism, but they all have four features in common. All terrorist movements are: 5

1. Polarized: They have an “us vs. them” mindset.

2. Absolutist: The beliefs are regarded as truth in the absolute sense, sometimes supported by sacred authority. This squelches questioning, critical thinking, and dissent. It also adds moral authority to framing us vs. them as a competition between good and bad (or evil).

3. Threat-Oriented: External threat causes in-groups to cohere. Good leaders know this intuitively. They persistently remind adherents that the “us” is at risk from “them.” Because the “us” is seen as being good and right in the absolute sense, this works not only to promote internal cohesion but also opposition to all nonbelievers.

4. Hateful: Hate energizes violent action. It allows principled opposition to impel direct action. It also facilitates various mechanisms for moral disengagement, or dehumanization, which erode the normal social and psychological barriers to engaging in violence. This is an important point, as it is the active support for violence that distinguishes the simple extremist from the terrorist.

The section on The Militant Jihadist Terrorism Threat describes the threat. One empirical study of 117 homegrown jihadist terrorists in America and the United Kingdom has identified the following observable manifestations of the radicalization process. This may be useful for identifying how far along individuals are in the radicalization process. 4

At an early stage, one comes to trust only the interpretations of an ideologically rigid set of religious authorities. These role models and scholars one looks to as guides have a significant impact on how others interpret what their faith demands of them.

Also at an early stage, one adopts a legalistic interpretation of the Muslim faith. There are rules that must be followed, not just for practice of the faith, but also for virtually every aspect of one’s daily life. For example, playing music, taking photographs, or women laughing in the street may be considered sinful.

At the final stage of radicalization, these rules include an obligation for all believers to undertake violence against infidels in order to advance the faith.

As they radicalize, Muslims come to perceive a fundamental conflict between Islam and the West. The idea of loyalty becomes critical: they have obligations to Islam alone and cannot have any kind of duty or loyalty to a non-Muslim state. Even participation in the democratic process in one’s own country violates religious principles that the rules are made by Allah, not by man.

This rigid interpretation of Islam leads to a low tolerance for any alternative interpretations or practices. After changing one’s own beliefs and practices, one feels compelled to impose the newly found beliefs on other family members and close friends. Any deviation by others from this rigid interpretation is seen as a personal affront. This is usually expressed by telling others that they are not good Muslims, which can sometimes lead to violence. It causes some individuals to separate themselves from and come to hate other Muslims who previously had been an important part of their lives.

In the latter stages, radicalization usually includes political as well as religious beliefs. Radicals believe the Western powers have conspired against Islam to subjugate it politically and corrupt it morally. They want to restore the caliphate that once united the Muslim world and ruled according to Allah’s dictates.

Remember that in the United States, expression of radical or extremist views is not illegal. It is illegal only when it reaches an advanced stage of supporting or engaging in an act of violence or other illegal behavior. For an individual who holds a U.S. Government security clearance or some other position of public trust, however, a stricter standard of allegiance to the United States applies. Advocacy of militant jihadist views as described in The Militant Jihadist Terrorism Threat is clear evidence of an absence of loyalty to the United States and is grounds for denial or revocation of a security clearance or access to other sensitive information or installations.

References
1. Randy Borum, “Understanding Terrorist Psychology,” in Andrew Silke, ed. The Psychology of Counter-Terrorism. Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2010.
2. Brian Michael Jenkins, “Outside Experts View,” preface to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Laura Grossman, Homegrown Terrorists in the U.S. and U.K.: An Empirical Examination of the Radicalization Process. Washington, DC: FDD’s Center for Terrorism Research, 2009.
3. Martha Crenshaw, “The Subjective Reality of the Terrorist: Ideological and Psychological Factors in Terrorism,” in Robert O. Slater & Michael Stohl, eds., Current Perspectives in International Terrorism. Hampshire, UK: Macmillan, 1988, p. 59.
4. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Laura Grossman, Homegrown Terrorists in the U.S. and U.K.: An Empirical Examination of the Radicalization Process. Washington, DC: FDD’s Center for Terrorism Research, 2009.
5. Randy Borum, ibid., p. 9.
6. Randy Borum, ibid., pp. 10-11.
7. Donna Abu-Nasr & Lee Keath, “200 Web sites spread al-Qaida’s message in English, The Washington Post, November 20, 2009.


Burn Out: What I Do To Avoid It

January 11, 2015

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By Terence T. Gorski
Author, my books can be found at www.relapse.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

I keep myself from burning out and becoming jaded by doing my best to focus my mind on the following things:

1. Praying: My primary repetitive prayer is: “God teach me of your will for me and give me the courage to carry that out.”

2. Renewing My Commitment To Help: I keep reinforcing that “we keep it by giving it away.” When we help others without trying to control those we are helping and without allowing ourselves to be exploited it helps me keep a balanced perspective.

3. I Dream Big: I see myself as a part of the revolution of the human spirit and human consciousness that will slowly, one person at a time, create a sober and responsible world.

4. I Manage My Expectations: I hope for the best when doing my work. I am prepared for the worst.

5. I Keep Perspective: I can’t do it alone, I can only do my part. I realize the power of a team of people working in harmony towards the same goal is powerful. I strive to stay focused on building a sober and responsible world one day at a time with the help of others.

6. I Take Time For Myself: I have areas of interest that focus my mind on many other things that I find inspiring or helpful. I read voraciously and take the lessons from everything I read that can lift my spirits and give me a positive and heroic fantasy life — kind of like I am “The Walter Mitty of the Addiction Field.”

7. I Dream Big: I strive work day-by-day to contribute things to others that will leave the world a better place. This is called building a legacy in the minds and hearts of others.

8. I Deal With Reality: I Deal With the immediate reality that confronts me by trying to do the next right thing to keep moving toward creating my life goal.

9. I Transcend Fear: I have developed the habit of facing fear without letting the fear control me. My favorite tool for this is Frank Herbert’s Litany Against Fear: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer – the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit my fear to pass over me through me. When it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I remain.

10. I copiously reflect upon the deep meaning of The Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

11. I Collect Quotable Quotes: My two favorites are: “One person can make a difference and every person should try.” ~ John F. Kennedy; and “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. ~ Albert Einstein.

12. I Don’t Take Myself to Seriously: I try to learn something from everyone I meet and everything I do. I strive to be humble by “accepting the things I cannot change, changing the things that I can, and learning to know the difference.” I act upon my strengths without asking for permission. I overcome or compensate for my weaknesses by asking for and receiving help.

To sum it up, I recognize that I am a fallible human being; that I will die and have limited time to live; and that it’s up to me to do the best I can with the cards I am dealt in life. I know that I might be wrong so I stay open to learning, changing and growing. I accept the fact that I am responsible for my life, what I choose to do and not do, and what U choose to focus my mind upon. I look up all words I read or hear to understand what they mean. I realize that language programs the brain/mind so I careful about what I say to myself and others.

Carpe Diem!

Illigitimi non carborundum!

I also renew myself by escaping into Criminal Minds (Spencer is my favorite character) and NCIS (my two favorite character are Gibbs and McGee).

I want to leave a positive legacy and have given a lot of thought to what I want to pass forward to future generations. Here are twenty-five Ideas I want to pass forward to the next generation.

Gorski Books: www.relapse.org

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Fear, Silence, and Speaking Out

January 10, 2015

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Don’t let anyone frighten you into silence.

See the blog on arrogance and courage
https://terrygorski.com/2013/10/18/arrogance-has-a-place/


What Do You Know?

January 10, 2015

The Books of Terence T. Gorski

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There are three things to consider:

1. The things we know that we know.

2. The things we know that we don’t know.

3. The things we don’t know that we don’t know.

The last is potentially the most dangerous.


Concerned Veterans for America

January 10, 2015

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Learn from the few who have stood between you and the guns of the enemy.

“We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” ~ George Orwell

Concerned Veterans for America
http://cv4a.org


The Progression of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems

January 10, 2015

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By Terence T. Gorski, Gorski Books

This is an excerpt from the book by Terry Gorski
entitled: Straight Talk About Addiction

In this blog, we’re going to look at the problems people have with alcohol and other drugs.

Let us start with a simple fact: Alcohol and drug problems are common.

About two-thirds of all Americans drink. About one-third do not. Of those who drink, about half develop alcohol-related problems.

Somewhere between 6 and 10 percent of all Americans will become alcoholics.

In addition to alcohol, many people use illegal drugs and abuse prescription medications.

When you add it all together, about 15% of all people will have serious problems with alcohol or other drugs at some point in their lives.

One thing is certain – no one starts drinking or drugging with the goal of getting addicted. People do not wake up in the morning and say: “Gee, this is beautiful day, I think I’ll go out and get addicted! That’s just not how it works.

Addiction is a slow and insidious process. It sneaks up on people from behind, when they are not looking. Here is how it happens.

When some people start using alcohol and other drugs, they feel really good. The drugs make them feel better than they have ever felt before. Therefore, they keep drinking and drugging.

They focus on enjoying the good times and get in the habit of pushing the bad times out of their minds. This allows the disease of addiction to quietly sneak in through the back door. The “Big Book “of Alcoholics Anonymous says it better than I ever could – Addiction is “cunning, baffling, and powerful.”

Addiction comes into our lives posing as a friend and then slowly grows into a monster that can destroy us.

There was once a man named Ted. His best friend gave him a little kitten. Ted loved that soft cuddly little cat and made it a part of his life. As time went by the cat kept growing and growing. It started to get so big that it was causing problems. It would knock things off the counters, break things, and tear up the house.

Ted loved the cat so much, that he decided to ignore the problems. By the time the cat was six months old, it was clear to everyone that this was no ordinary cat. Ted’s friend had given him a baby mountain lion.

Knowing this, however, didn’t change Ted’s feelings. He loved his “cat so much that he decided to keep it. After all, what harm could it do? He would just take some extra precautions and everything would be fine.

About eight months later a friend came over to visit. Ted’s mountain lion attacked his friend. When Ted tried to pull the cat off of his friend, the mountain lion turned on him and clawed Ted so badly that he nearly died.

Addiction is a lot like Ted’s mountain lion. It starts out as a cute and cuddly little thing that brings a lot of joy, fun, and excitement into our lives. Then the addiction starts to grow up.

As it grows, our addiction turns into a vicious monster that destroys our lives. In this section, we will look at how this happens.

This is an excerpt from the book by Terry Gorski
entitled: Straight Talk About Addiction

Gorski Books: www.relapse.org
Gorski Home Studies: www.cenaps.com<

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Trigger Events

August 29, 2014

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The term “trigger even” is commonly used by people struggling to understand what turns on their addictive thinking, ear lying warning signs (drug seeking behavior), and the strong attraction or need to bet involved in high risk situations. Recovering people intuitively understand the idea of relapse because it is linked to the metaphor of a gun. When you are holding a  load gun and pull the trigger it fires. Addiction, especially in early recovery, is very much a like a loaded gun with a sensitive trigger.

When you pull the addiction trigger, the disease of addiction fires off addictive thinking, automatic addictive or drug seeking behavior, and a craving or urge that pulls you toward high risk situations. One you are in a high risk situation you have put yourself in a HIGH RISK SITUATION which takes you away from recovery support, puts you around people, place, and things that support addictive use and make it easy for you to use. The high risk situation also provides social support to start using and social criticize if you refuse to start using. In a high risk situation there is also usually the false promise that goes like this: “I can use my addictive substance just this once, no one will know, and I can just renew my sobriety tomorrow. That, of course, is a very dangerous way from a recovering addictive to be thinking.

Most recovering people intuitively understand what a trigger is, and can describe exactly what pulled the trigger and what happened after the trigger fired off the movement toward addiction.  The problem is that very few recovering people or professional can tell you what a trigger is.  Events and situations that act as powerful triggers for some people have no effect on others. Even more confusing, on some days a certain situation, like have lunch in a restaurant that serves alcohol, activates a powerful trigger. On other days, haven lunch in the same place with the same people does nothing to pull the trigger that activates craving. Why is this?

Many people mistaken believe that the trigger lives in the external person, place or thing that sets it off. As a result addiction professionals teach recovering people to identify and avoid common trigger events. Rarely do recovery people get a clear explanation of psychobiological dynamics that that make triggers so powerful. Without a clear understanding of the psychobiological dynamics of a trigger event, the only way to learn to many them is through trial and error.

Bob Tyler, in his book Enough Already!: A Guide to Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Addiction, explains it this way:

“If we don’t know what makes a trigger a trigger, the only thing we can teach patients to do is to avoid them. Now, how much success do you think our patients will have avoiding triggers living in this society which is permeated by alcohol and drugs? Probably not very much! Therefore, it is essential that we are knowledgeable about how a trigger actually becomes a trigger so we can teach our patients how to recover from triggers?” Although Bob Tyler talks about “recovering from triggers, and I talk about identifying, managing, and disempowering triggers, our basic concept is the same. Recovering people can learn to identify avoid, manage, and eventual, turn off the ability of the trigger to activate craving and drug seeking behavior. This happens spontaneously as people get into long-term recovery. There are techniques and methods for pan aging and disempowering triggers that can make the process a lot easier.

Trigger Event – Defined

A trigger event as “any internal or external occurrence that activates a craving (obsession, compulsion, physical craving, and drug-seeking behavior)” (Gorski, 1988). let’s break down this definition:

  • “internal” occurrences are thoughts or feelings;
  • “external” occurrences involve the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
  • In order for something to be a trigger, such an event must be connected in some way to the person’s using alcohol to other drugs.
  • The trigger is stronger if the event happen just before, or simultaneous to, the actual use (Gorski, 1988).
  • The most important thing to know about what makes a trigger a trigger is its connection to the use.

Bob  Tyler explains it this way: “A simple way of explaining this is by relating it to classical (or Pavlovian) conditioning. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian scientist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1904 for his research in digestive processes. While studying the relationship between salivation and digestive processes in dogs, he would show a dog meat powder and measure the resulting salivation level of the dog – they did this repeatedly. One day, Dr. Pavlov noticed that when he walked into the lab, that the dog started to salivate even before showing it the meat powder. There appeared to be some connection made for the dog between Dr. Pavlov and the meat powder which caused it to salivate. To study this phenomenon, he added a third variable (a bell) and rang it just prior to showing the dog meat powder and measured the resulting salivation level. He did this repeatedly: bell à meat powder à salivation, bell à meat powder à salivation, etc. He eventually found that he could ring the bell, not present the meat powder, and the dog would still salivate. Thus, there was a connection made for the dog between the bell and the meat powder that prompted the salivation (PageWise, 2002). For our purposes, the bell is the trigger for the dog’s drug of choice – meat powder, which caused the dog to salivate for, or crave, the meat powder. The challenge for the addicted is to identify the bells (triggers) that cause them to salivate (crave) their drug of choice. This will allow them to avoid or manage such triggers until the time in their recovery comes to start recovering from them.”

Disempowering (Recovering from) Triggers

There are three phases in disempowering  a trigger:

  • Phase 1: Avoidance: Make a list of the most powerful triggers that were associated with you drinking and drugging and plan to avoid them.
  • Phase 2: Gradual re-introduction with adequate recovery support: If consciously exposing yourself to a trigger it is best to have a friend in recovery to help you prepare, go through the experience with the trigger, be their to help you get out, and then talk about the experience and the thoughts and feelings that it stirred up.
  • Phase 3: Extinction. Phase I is to “eliminate as many of them as you can, for a limited period of time, until stable” (Gorski, 1988). As stated previously, in very early sobriety, you do not go to bars or other using places, you avoid people who use and drink, and you avoid any other triggers you identify.

“The second phase is a gradual reintroduction of the triggers so that the person can learn how to cope with them” (Gorski, 1988). This does not mean to gradually re-introduce the addict into the crack house or their favorite watering hole, but there are some trigger situations that you should be able to eventually participate in. As stated earlier, alcohol permeates our society and you would have to live a very sheltered life in order to avoid it over the long-term. Therefore, in order to lead any kind of normal life, gradual re-introduction to some trigger situations is necessary. This re-introduction process is best done with the addict’s sponsor or with a therapist or group if they have one. Following is an example of this process in my own sobriety.

The following story reported by Bob Tyler gives and excellent example:

“When I was about 90 days sober and still involved in the aftercare portion of my treatment program, we were invited to the wedding of my wife’s cousin in Chandler, Arizona. I thought: “I’d really like to go!” However, I had learned from past experience that decisions I made on my own in relation to my sobriety were typically bad ones. So I decided to leave it completely up to my group and put it out to them. The consensus was that since I was still working a very strong sobriety program, going to daily meetings, and going with my supportive wife, I could probably stay sober if I created a sobriety plan. The group then proceeded to help me put this plan together.

  • Suggestion 1: Carry a Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) onto the plane and read it: The thinking was that since flying on an airplane was a trigger for me to drink, it would be difficult to order a drink while holding a Big Book in my hand. The book has an embossed cover so nobody would know what it was and, if they recognized it, they probably have one and I might meet someone in the program.
  • Suggestion 2: Keep you recovery support system close. If traveling, find out where the lo=cal meetings are and make telephone contact with one or more local members. Have a written plan to go to 12-Step meetings each day and have an accountability system built-in.  I was in Arizona. They had me call the downtown Los Angeles Central Office of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to get the number of the central office in Chandler, Arizona. I was to get a meeting scheduled for each day I was there and, if possible, schedule a meeting for the time of the reception so if I got into trouble, I could simply leave the reception and go to a meeting. In fact, this actually happened – here’s a funny little story:
  • Suggestion 3: Have an Emergency Escape Plan if Craving Is Triggered: Bob Tyler went to the reception.  “I found myself talking to my wife’s uncle next to the wet bar at his home.” Bob said.  “Suddenly, someone plopped down a bottle of my favorite whiskey onto the bar right in front of me. After recovering from my slight panic, I excused myself and informed my wife  that I was going to a meeting. She was supportive because I had talked with her about this emergency plan before we left.   Fortunately, I got the address and directions to the from AA’s Central Office before I left. This made it easier for me to go.”

After the meeting, Bob went back to the reception where he noticed “everyone was having a great time dancing. This really looked fun to me, but I had never danced sober before. I always had to have at least a few drinks in me first because I was not a very good dancer and cared too much about what other people thought of me. When I had a few drinks, I felt like I danced like John Travolta and you didn’t think so – too bad!” It’s amazing how many recovering people won;t dance in recovery because they fear it will make them feel stupid and activate a craving. Bob is not alone here. So Bob developed a plan:

He waited for a fast song that he liked, and slid onto the dance floor while playing “air guitar” and, and starting to  dance. “A Van Halen song came on,” says Bob, and I was off and running. Little did I know that just after I left for my meeting, the bride and groom arrived, walked across the portable dance floor, and everyone followed tradition by throwing rice at them. You can imagine what happened next. As I attempted to slide onto the dance floor, my feet hit the rice and came right out from under me. I hit the floor, followed by two of my wife’s female cousins (one of them the bride!) who I managed to take down with me – one of them right onto my lap. I rose to my feet with my beet-red face and, as I looked around the dance floor, I could see my wife’s family’s reaction which I perceived as, “There he goes, he’s drunk again” – and I was probably the only sober person there!”

Alcoholics and other addicts carry with them a reputation for doing stupid things when they are drinking or using. AS a result, any time they make a mistake or try to have fun by being silly, many people with just assume they have stated drinking or drugging again. This can activate shame and guilt and bring back painful members. It’s also easy to feel unfairly judged and to question the value of your sobriety. “If this is how people will always react to me, why bother to stay sober?” Needless to say, this kind of thinking a serious warning that needs to be discussed with your therapist and sponsor.

The other elements of his sobriety plan helped Bob get though this situation sober. He called his sponsor each day discussing everything that happened and how he felt about it. He read the Big Book for a half-hour each evening to keep is sober-thinking brain circuits alive and active., and not going anywhere alone. Upon returning, my group and I processed what worked, and what additional program tools I might have used so I could use them the next time I might have to expose myself to triggers.

Through this process of gradual re-introduction, Bob was able to participate in increasingly more activities in my recovery to the point I can now do almost anything without being triggered. This is due to the third phase of the recovery process called the “extinction process” (Gorski, 1988). As mentioned earlier, triggers become extinguished when repeated exposure to them is connected with not using, rather than using.

Addiction professionals can learn to prepare recovering people for living in a society that is alcohol and drug centered.  The trigger management process, or as Bob Tyler Describes it, Trigger Recovery, can help many recovering people improve the quality of their sober life and reduce the fear and risk of relapse.

References:

Gorski, Terence T. (Speaker). (1988). Cocaine craving and relapse: A comparison
between alcohol and cocaine (Cassette Recording Number 17 – 0157).

Independence, Mo: Herald House/Independent Press.

Pagewise, Inc. (2002). This study in classical conditioning is one of the most renown for its incredible results. Learn about Pavlov’s dogs [Online]. Available Internet: http://ks.essortment.com/pavlovdogs_oif.htm.

Tyler, Bob. (2005) Enough Already!: A Guide to Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Books by Terence T. Gorski

Gorski’s book Straight Talk About Addiction describes trigger events in detail.

Gorski, Terence T., Addiction & Recovery Magazine, April 10, 1991

Gorski, Terence T.,  Managing Cocaine Craving, Hazelden, Center City, June 1990


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