Our senses, along with our synaptic memory, are truly wonders for our human experience. There’s the smell of Mom’s strawberry rhubarb pie, the way the water on a lake ripples after skipping a rock across its surface, and a song from high school that you will always crank up. These sense experiences hold more than just recognition of our surroundings; they are the repositories of our pasts, individually and collectively.
However, along with these sense stores can come some tough sledding for those of us in recovery. For example, back in the old days of AA and 12 Steps, some sponsors would go so far as to plead with their sponsee not to give up cigarettes as long as they were doing well in their sobriety. Now we know that although sometimes dropping every bad habit along with an addiction can hasten relapse in some people, for many, something as simple as the smell of a burning cigarette can trigger deep addictive responses.
How many of us smoked while drinking, then to perk us up from the alcohol, did some lines to pick us up? To go a step further, what did we do when the lines made our teeth grind and get paranoid? Take the edge off with a cigarette and a beer. The story goes on, but if you’re reading this, you most likely know how it ends.
We are talking about paired addictions, and though they may not be traditionally thought of as mutual harbingers of relapse, you should be aware of what they represent. For some in recovery, a double espresso can briefly trigger the reward and pleasure centers in the brain that were once associated with stimulant abuse. Not wanting to go THERE, we step outside for a cigarette. After all, we’re just trying to stay clean from the illegal drugs, right?
For the most part. No, we’re not saying you can’t enjoy a great cup of coffee or walk by a group of smokers or smell a glass of amazing wine and not appreciate the sense pleasure of it. But be mindful of the hooks that you used to take the bait from. Additionally, it doesn’t make sense for us to run from all of the sense memories that remain from our addictions; we must re-enter the world we left behind and deal with it on its terms, not ours.
So, enjoy all the sights and smells, tastes and sounds, and everything that we have in this life to make us happy. Enjoy them for what they are…just don’t get caught on the hook.
Awaken to a full embodiment of who you are at Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California. We are a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138