I’m thankful that as part of my trauma recovery I have had very little desire toward substance abuse. I’m a long-term thinker, and the negative consequences usually outweigh the benefits for me. That changed this week.

My brother’s accident has brought out some of my less desirable traits, which are only in my head, but something I have to deal with nonetheless. The desire to yank bad drivers out of their cars and tear their throats out, for example. Also my new and ever-present desire for a Xanax and Bourbon combo meal for dinner – or any other meal. Or vodka. Whatever.

I took a couple of day to think about how I wanted to address this, and decided transparency was going to win the battle. I do not have a history of substance abuse and I have not been through addiction recovery, but I know enough to have an idea of how to do this with as little destruction to self as possible.

I started telling my friends.

“How are you?”

“I’m at high risk for substance abuse. How are you?”

I’m not going to hide this or be embarrassed or ashamed by it. I’m going to be open about it because that way I am not struggling in silence, and someone will be checking with me to see if I have managed to keep the combo meal idea in my head or if I have actually done it. This is in the light, and because I have amazingly supportive friends, I have received zero judgement and a lot of support.

Have good friends. It makes all the difference.

Not to say that all of my friends are standing with me, but some of them are, and that’s enough. I am not to the point to ask anyone to come sit with me so that I don’t do anything foolish, and I’m not sure that any of them even would, but then again I didn’t know how my “how are you?” response would go over either, and that has worked out great.

Yesterday I exercised a lot, went on a couple of walks, did yoga, worked with my kettlebell. I didn’t help that much. Today I am taking a day to rest (and catch up on some work), and that may not help much either. So I am expanding my toolbox.

When I want to drink, I pour about 4 oz of unsweetened cranberry juice or grapefruit juice into a glass of sparkling water. It’s not water, it doesn’t have sugar (I’m still making at least some effort toward diet changes), it doesn’t taste awesome and it’s close enough to filling the bourbon/vodka void. When I want pills…well…I just don’t. There is still some clawing going on here.