They say the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results. Now substitute ‘doing the same things’ for ‘drinking’. If you’re tempted to drink, play the tape forward in your mind, meaning we can predict the outcome of drinking using our past experience as a guide.
Don’t focus on the first drink, focus on the last. Fast forward to the end of the night and imagine what will happen if you start drinking. You think, I’ll have just one beer/wine/vodka. The beginning of the tape is good, after just a few drinks. We feel happy, we are the life of the party, all our anxiety washes away. This is where most people stop playing the tape and only remember the ‘good’ stuff. Fast forward to the inevitable 10 drinks later where you fight with your partner, crash your vehicle, or pass out in a puddle of your own vomit.
When considering drinking, play the tape through and remember why you stopped drinking in the first place. You can play the tape forward because it always plays out the same despite the fact you think it might be different this time – it never is. If you play the tape all the way through, you wake up at 4am feeling anxiety and shame and regret. In the morning, you can barely deal with your kids, job, or dogs. You have played the tape forward and realistically imagined how things will go if you drink. The bruises, the drunken texts, the lost wallet. If you’re a good visualizer, playing the tape forward is a pretty effective deterrent to that first drink.