When I was new to the program, I would see this slogan displayed and wonder what it meant. I was totally baffled by it. Was I to think a Lot? Did I need to think with other people? I didn’t have a clue as to what this meant. Through the year that I have been sober I finally realized that it meant to think through that first drink, pill, joint, etc.
The logic in this is similar to Cognitive Behavioral ABC’S: antecedent, behavior and consequence. The antecedent is the thoughts that occur before beginning to drink or use. This can be described in program terms as “stinkin thinkin.” Our thoughts begin to lead us to that first drink. We start toying with the idea that we can rink successfully. This time maybe only one or two drinks. Or I can put whiskey in my milk. Any other irrational thoughts we may have could lead us back to the bottle. It is at this point that we pick up one of our relapse prevention tools to ward off these thoughts.
The next step in a relapse would be to ignore all that we have learned about prevention. We rationalize away any sane thoughts of not drinking. The behavior that ensues is to actually consume that first drink, pill, fix, line, etc. After the first one we may think that this is not so bad so we take a second drink. By now we are starting to feel slightly inebriated and reason goes out the window. If drinking alcohol we will usually finish the whole bottle. The same goes for other drugs. We finish all that we have. By now we may be starting to feel somewhat remorseful in our decision to drink again. Things we have read or heard about in meetings start coming to mind. There is no way back to where we were before we took the first drink.
Consequences begin to pile up. Consequences can be good or bad. If we make good choices, we will have positive consequences. If we make poor choices, we will experience negative consequences. Having made the decision to drink or use and following through with it leads us to very negative consequences. The first consequence is that we have lost our sobriety. We have triggered the physical allergy that causes us to continue drinking or using. We have let down family and friends one more time. We are back in the act of not being able to stop using or drinking.
So, for me, think, think, think is to visualize the spree before I pick up the first drink. I imagine what I would lose if I drank again. I try to bring to mind the physical torment of a massive hangover. If I am able to overcome these thoughts, I can call a sober friend and explain what I just went through. I can go to a meeting and I can pray. Doing these things will help to get me through this rough patch that I am going through.
As I feel the thoughts subside, I can be grateful for my sobriety. I may have learned to rely more on God in keeping me sober. I may be closer to the sober friend that I called and spoke with. This is my positive consequence. I maintained my sobriety and am willing to get back on track. I have not placed my life in jeopardy by picking up the first drink, pill, fix or joint. I am now stronger in my sobriety after having weathered this storm And for that I am truly grateful.