Play the tape forward

When I was in early sobriety I would come up with crazy scenarios where I’d be offered a drink and then ruminate over my response as well as how others would react. That was future tripping and never actually played out the way I thought it would. What did help me in early sobriety was when I started to glamorize alcohol or question my decision to not drink, I’d play the tape forward.

Playing the tape forward is not about thinking about all the ways we are not going to drink and how we will resist the urge. It’s a detailed exploration of how exactly it will go down, and how it will go down in absolute flames.

Remember, you are not reading this because you are one of the very few people in the world that can drink “normally.” You are reading this because you are questioning your relationship to alcohol and want to make a change:

Now let’s play out the full scene:

Think about your worst hangover and assume that will happen for the event/night out you are thinking about.

Imagine getting all I get all dressed up, get in an uber. You meet up with your friends and order that first drink.

Now stop and remind yourself that whatever relief that you might get from having a drink is temporary and only lasts 20 minutes max, you will then end up spending the entire night chasing that same high. The conversation gets fuzzy, you find yourself repeating yourself, the bartender might even cut you off. It gets dark.

Wake yourself up and feel the regret, the shame, and sit with the nauseating you will feel for hours the next day. Ask yourself if it was worth it?

Finally, think not just about that night of drinking but how our brain gets altered once the poison hits our system. If we don’t play the tape until complete destruction this one night, but then what? What happened the last time we drank in moderation? Maybe it last for a couple weeks of months but then what happened.

You don’t have to ever go back to feeling that way again. The freedom in making the choice to quit completely means we have said goodbye to ever having to go back there. We can stop lying to ourselves the people we care about. Our lives become full instead of guilt-ridden and full of shame.

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