When you are in recovery, there will be times you hit a low point and potentially think about throwing away your progress. There are numerous coping strategies to deal with these moments, but one of the most effective is “playing the tape through.” This may seem confusing at first, but learning how to do this relapse prevention method properly will help you maintain long-term recovery. When you feel your recovery is at risk, try this technique to get you back on track.

What is Playing the Tape Through?

Playing the tape through is a relapse prevention technique that has you consider the long-term impact of your actions. It helps you get out of the present moment and think about things outside of whatever emotions you may be feeling. This way, you can make a more conscientious decision regarding how you want to proceed.

How to Play the Tape Through

When you are experiencing a low point in your recovery where you are considering returning to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, playing the tape through can help you avoid this.

To begin, you first visualize the short-term effects of relapsing. These could be blacking out, getting into legal trouble, engaging in impulsive behaviors, or other actions that will harm your life. Then, you consider the long-term effects such as falling back into the addiction cycle, losing your children, ending up in jail, and dealing with withdrawal symptoms. As you move through the tape of your life, make sure you don’t shy away from the real consequences that could happen.

After this, go back to the start and visualize what would happen if you turned away from drugs and alcohol and instead reached out to someone that can help you stay sober. Think about the long-term effects, such as the benefits of maintaining your sobriety and staying on track in recovery. By visualizing these benefits, you should conclude that it is better to reach out for help instead of caving and returning to your old habits. You can use this technique throughout your recovery to help you stay sober and healthy.

Everyone faces challenging times in recovery, so it is crucial to have effective tools that help you maintain your sobriety even on the worst of days. One of the best tools to use is playing the tape through, which can help you visualize the consequences of relapsing. If you need help practicing this tool or implementing other relapse prevention strategies in your recovery, contact Alta Loma Transformational Services. Through comprehensive care and individualized treatment, we help men from all walks of life be successful in their journey to sobriety. Call us today at (866) 457-3843 to learn more about our Texas-based facility and programs.


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You understand your needs best. If you have found yourself at a crossroads in your treatment and feel like your program options don’t fully understand you or aspects of your recovery, it’s time to contact the specialists at Alta Loma. We will help you craft the ideal care plan and secure the support you need, quickly, to avoid unnecessary problems. At Alta Loma, that’s our mission — to provide each individual with optimum care for the wellbeing they deserve.