The following article is written by Wendy who has much more experience than that of this column writer.
I would like to talk about an aspect of cutting or self-injury that I have not heard much about from others. It is about a technique that I have used to help myself in recovery for many issues of my life. Even though I am going to use cutting specifically as an example, this process works well for all addictions and obsessions. For those of you who are not familiar with self-injury, it is the act of injuring yourself by leaving a mark or damage. Cutting is the most known method but self-injury can include burning, biting , hair pulling and breaking bones etc… Like any other Process Addiction such as Gambling or Sex, there is a lot of emotional pain driving these behaviors. I would like to note, I am not a professional. I have no degrees and this is not research. I have cut for 18 years. I have been in recovery for 5 years. I also have struggled with other addictions. This is a tool that has brought a lot of progress to my recovery. I am simply sharing a tool that has done wonders for me .
I am going to introduce “Environmental Intervention”. With Environmental Intervention a person would look at the things that trigger or make easier the target behavior and take them out of their environment. I will use myself as an example.
- What is the behavior I am trying to reduce?
- What are my biggest tools and or triggers?
- Sharps: knives, glass ceramics
- My plan of action. At this point you think of how you can make sure that the tools or triggers are not available to you in your safe zone (such as your house).
- I removed all sharp knives, glass and ceramic products. I also swapped razors for an electric shaver. Basically think of things you can do that will make it so that you cannot do an impulse behavior without effort. I can still choose to cut but I would have to go to a store or other place to acquire the tool. This gives me an option to decide if I really want to go through with the urge. You do not necessarily have to take things out of your house or your environment. Find something that will work for you. You could, for example, use a picture or interact with a specific person. The point is that you find something that stops the impulse behavior. It usually requires something very powerful.
- So now my house is sharp free. I have more space and attention in my life to start addressing my issue. As you progress in recovery, you can reconsider your Environmental Interventions. For example, I reintroduced glass and ceramic products into my apartment because I have more control over my urges now. The intervention is not meant to be permanent. It is a safety plan to help you focus more on your recovery. It may even help you deal with relapse better. This is meant as a tool to help someone keep clean. It is not a solution. As you proceed in your recovery, you should be able to stop all of your interventions.
Make sure that whatever changes you make, you can reasonably do. If you can’t live a somewhat comfortable live with what you chose, redo it. Because, if you are miserable following the interventions, you will quit before gaining any benefit from the action.
This Article is dedicated to Svann Langford (1968 – 2014)
On Wednesday October 8, 2014 I lost my teacher, my mentor and my friend, Svann Langford. She used the power God gave her to reach the hurting and teach from her experience in self injury and addiction. She introduced me to a very personal and loving God. Svann touched many people in many ways. I grieve along with her other friends, but I thank God for giving me the time I got with her.