If you are reading this article and have a pulse, then I guarantee that most of the decisions you make today will be minor, routine, and seemingly irrelevant. Turning left instead of right, stopping at a friend’s house unannounced, or working through lunch instead of eating, are all examples of decisions we make every day without much thought.
Just because these decisions aren’t related to alcohol or drugs or seem unimportant doesn’t mean they won’t have consequences. In fact consequences result from every decision, past and future. For the majority of us, however, making routine decisions carries little risk. For years you arrive at a particular intersection and turn left rather than right. Then one day you turn and suddenly get blindsided by someone blowing through a stop sign. Bad decision making? Absolutely not. Just bad luck.
But for the minority of us who struggle with substance abuse or dependence – me included – the risk of catastrophic consequences resulting from a seemingly irrelevant decision is much greater. In this case the consequences can include relapse, jail, DUI, loss of driver’s license, less than honorable discharge, vehicular manslaughter, a mountain of costly fines and more.
For example, if turning left means driving past your old dealer’s house when you’re trying to remain clean, that choice is no longer irrelevant or routine because you run the risk of being triggered, having cravings and eventually using. Furthermore, if you turn left, and if you stop at the dealer’s house, and if you use, and if you happen to be randomly drug tested soon after, you will undoubtedly find yourself in a heap of trouble. All starting with a simple left turn! Similarly, walking the alcohol aisle at the supermarket is not an irrelevant decision for a problem drinker.
Even NOT making a decision is a seemingly irrelevant decision that can have catastrophic consequences for anyone struggling with substance abuse. A good example of this is failing to plan in advance for transportation home from a bar. It’s the sort of poor choice we make all the time yet don’t consider it a decision at all.
Remember that the consequences of a decision are the same regardless of whether you think it through or not. For anyone struggling with substance abuse or dependence, a decision that is seemingly irrelevant at the time can lead to a disastrous chain of events. Best to think it through, weigh your options, and
choose the option with the least risk. This technique will always serve you well.
Keith Angelin, MBA, CADC-II, CNDAI, is a Master’s level, board-certified alcohol & drug counselor, and nationally certified intervention specialist. Prior to entering the field of substance abuse counseling
he spent two-decades as a leading marketing executive in the health and nutrition industry where he worked with numerous professional athletes and celebrities including Sylvester Stallone,
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood and the Dallas Cowboys. A 14-year battle with drugs and alcohol included dying three times from overdose. His recovery compelled him to re-evaluate his life and share the miracle with others. He can be reached at (949) 939-9222 or through www.InterventionRx.com