When we are not experiencing cravings or urges, we are generally able to recognize the disruptive effects of alcohol/ drugs on our lives. We have written a fine cost benefit analysis (CBA. a SMART tool) and we really believe that all of the negative costs of drinking are worth giving it all up.
However, once the stimulus (some call them "triggers") have been activated in our thinking, a strange phenomenon happens. Our awareness or attention to the delayed long-term consequences of drinking seem to disappear in what has been called a "cognitive blockade" and we increase our focus on only our immediate plans to securing our drink. A "tunnel vision" develops in which our attention is almost totally devoted to the immediate situation.
This documented phenomenon is called "cognitive blockade" because of blocking out the incongruent (ie, the corrective, realistic) information.
There is hope, though. The delay between the experience of craving and the implementation of the urge gives us a "window of time", an interval for intervention. We can use that window to employ some proven tools.
With that window of time, we can delay the satisfying of that urge for a specified period of time, say 20 minutes. The natural inclination of urges is that they diminish with time. If we can just wait them out, they lessen.
Notice, acknowledge the urges and remind yourself that just because you have an urge at this moment does not mean that you HAVE to give in to it. This is called DELAYING.
We can also use the tool of DIVERTING. Busying ourselves with some other activity. Read, paint your house, or take a walk or nap. Anything that would serve to divert your attention.
Another tool we can use is that fine CBA we constructed. If that blockade makes it difficult to remember the negative costs we wrote down, why not write those reasons on index cards and carry them around with us? Anytime we start to feel vulnerable, and we remember only the "wonderful" benefits of our drinking, pull out the cards as a powerful reminder of WHY we chose to quit in the first place. Carry those cards everywhere with you until you can pull your reasons AGAINST up without thinking about it.
Hopefully these tools can help the next time that 'tunnel vision' develops.
You can't die of a hangover. You only wish you could.
[From an oldtimer at the SMART forum, Marky, 9/30/02]