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Remembering the Bad Times

The early days of sobriety are hard. You have to go through withdrawal, you have intense cravings, and you may feel depressed or anxious. You do have one advantage in early recovery, though–you remember vividly why you’re going through all of this. Maybe you finally realized how much you were hurting your family, maybe you got arrested, or maybe you were just tired of being sick and broke all the time. Whatever the reason, it was compelling enough to convince you to get treatment. Like a bad breakup that was long overdue, the horrors of that phase of your life are fresh in your mind.

As you get further in recovery, though, you feel better about yourself and about life and those horrors begin to fade. Just as with the ex who made your life unbearable, being at a safe distance allows you to remember the good times. You might even feel like you have control over your addiction so it’s safe to have a taste, for old time’s sake.

This is when it is important to “play the tape.” When you remember those good times, you need a little voice in your head that says, “Yeah, that part was fun, but do you remember what happened next? Play the tape!” This is when you force yourself to remember the whole experience and not just the fun bits. It’s an exercise in honesty and accountability. The more vividly you recall the ugly parts, the more you can really evoke the pain and desperation of addiction, and the easier it will be to stay on track.

Going to meetings can help with this. Listening to people share their experiences in addiction helps keep your own experiences fresh in your mind. Most people have similar kinds of stories and you will get frequent reminders why you quit in the first place. Hearing their stories can remind you of all the lessons you had to learn the hard way.

This is not to say you should dwell on the past and all the ways you behaved badly during active addiction. It’s just to say that when you feel tempted by the memories of pleasant experiences, make sure you remember those experiences honestly so you can remember what’s at stake.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.