DAY 23: Dating Your Drug of Choice

Be careful who you pretend to be, because in the end you are who you pretend to be
— Kurt Vonnegut

Day 23 Self Reflection:

On Day 23 in your workbook figure out where you are in the stages of loss with your bad habits.


Day 23 Micro-Science: Stockholm Syndrome

This basis gist with Stockholm Syndrome is that people who have it end up bonding with their captors and may even defend them after they are freed. The term was coined when after a bank robbery in Stockholm one of the hostages ended up actually joining the gang that held her captive and she even went on future bank robberies with the gang as an ally. From a distance, this sounds kind of ludicrous but when we examine the current behavior of addicts or anyone with an iphone this behavior can be readily applied to ourselves pretty quickly. Its amazing how quickly an alcoholic will defend the very thing that is taking them down or how defensive someone is when called out for their heavy use of technology. Whenever dopamine is present, whether thats in a high stress situation or around addictive agents like phones or alcohol, a person does things that don’t seem that rational to an outside observer.

  • FACT: Traumatic bonding occurs as the result of ongoing cycles of abuse in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates powerful emotional bonds that are resistant to change

  • TAKEAWAY: We can become bonded and attached to people or substances that cause us great harm.

Day 23 Meditation: Optimal Visualization

When you prime your brain to think about something, whether its positive or negative, its probably more likely to come true. This is often called a self fulfilling prophecy and its what hippie dippie types call the “law of attraction.” While wishing a spot to open up in a busy parking lot is unlikely to wield any results. This “law” is true is a more general sense. If you prime your brain to look for certain outcomes this does give your unconscious brain the job of searching that outcome out, causing a lot of behind the scenes work that comes across to our “astonished” minds as serendipitous. Its pretty simple though, if I say the words “one”, “two”, “three”, the word your likely to think about next is “four.” This isn’t amazing its just the brain doing what its suppose to do. Visualization is about creating the right conditions for the outcome you want to come true to actually come true.

  • FACT: Researchers had subjects practiced a set of music on a piano and the part of their brain that dealt with motor skills memory physically changed. The more impressive part though is that researchers then had another set of people practice the same set of music, but only in their mind visualizing themselves playing, and that same part of the brain changed as well. (not as drastically but still changed none the less)

  • TAKEAWAY: Visualization is a powerful tool to help shape your brain. The “law of attraction” maybe somewhat overplayed, but it is true that what you think about will physically alter how your brain works and what your brain becomes good at.

Day 23 Meditation: For today’s meditation I want you to grab a blank piece of paper and pen, set a timer for five minutes and write freely about what your optimal life and optimal self would look like. Who would you spend time with? How would you feel about yourself? How would you spend your time? What personality traits would you have? And anything else that comes to mind.

Begin with the end in mind
— Steven Covey

Day 23 Movement Task: Refusal Skills

Impulse control is not something humans are naturally very good at. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense. Why would we say no to a resource (anything that gives us dopamine) when we have a chance to take it. To our cavemen ancestors, sometimes that piece of meat wouldn’t be there tomorrow if you didn’t take it today. Delaying gratification wasn’t a trait that was passed down from generation to generation because those that delayed, ended up dead. However in today’s world with instant access to just about anything, the same skill of saying “yes” that help our ancestors survive is the very skill that is killing us by the millions today through obesity and addiction.

  • FACT: People currently in active addiction have less gray matter (amount of brain) in their impulse control centers than the average person. However, after two years of sobriety and saying “no” to their drug of choice that same impulse control center has more gray matter (amount of brain) than the average population.

  • TAKEAWAY: If you have to say “no” to your drug of choice on a daily basis (by passing a liquor store, or seeing friends who ask you to use) you get good at saying “no” to alot of things. The brain is an organ, but acts like a muscle, the more you the muscle of self control the stronger your self control becomes.

Day 23 Movement Task: For today’s task the goal is to say no to something that you want even if you can’t find any good reason to say no in your mind. The point is to practice saying “no” and be ok with the societal consequences and internal dialogue that might want you to say “yes.” As refusal skills are necessary to strengthen the impulse control muscle in your brain.

Day 23 Bonus Material:

#1) Ted Talk: The Brain in Love- Substance abuse and the Mind

Check out this Ted Talk about the many ways that people fall in love with their drug of choice.

#2) Ted Ed: How do Drugs affect the Brain?

Check out this short video about the numerous ways drugs effects the brain.