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  • Writer's pictureEric Fisher

What is a firm offense in recovery?

Updated: Feb 1



A martial artists using offense on an attacker.

In martial arts, a person engages in offence only after defensive moves are utilized. I don’t seek to hit someone aggressively without first defending myself. I use the least damage possible to evade an opponent when I perform an offensive move. I do not do more than what is required to defend myself and retreat from the situation. A person's values, religious and spiritual beliefs, cultural background, and family upbringing will influence how they defend themselves from an attack.


In recovery, the offense can appear in varying forms. The four we will look at are listed below.


  1. Engaging in fun activities that give naturally occurring dopamine.

  2. Reconnecting and interacting with family and friends.

  3. Establishing and upholding boundaries.

  4. Residing in a sober-conscious living environment.


1. Engaging in fun activities that give naturally occurring dopamine.


Active using or process behaviours, like gambling, wreak havoc on someone’s relationship with dopamine. What’s aptly termed “hedonic rehabilitation” seeks to bring fun and enjoyment back naturally. I am remodelling how I view and experience pleasure in my life. This could manifest in many forms. Playing board games, going bowling, hiking, bird watching, engaging in a passionate interest such as woodworking, playing with grandkids, attending a baseball game, riding a bike, and many other examples. This will not return quickly, especially when someone is mood-altering for a long duration. Allowing yourself time for the events, activities, and passions to bring feelings of pleasure organically is important. Patience is the name of the game. Why this is a firm offensive move in recovery: The opponent would like you to continue seeking out substances, behaviours, or relationships that will give you a quick dopamine rush with a short half-life. Pursuing alternative pleasurable activities replaces what was once used with something much more durable, long-lasting, and authentically integrated within ourselves and others.



2. Reconnecting and interacting with family and friends.


This can coincide with the first one about hedonic rehabilitation. We are social creatures. Social interaction brings feelings of happiness and joy. Disconnection from others can be a warning sign of impending isolation, which, if left unchecked, may lead someone to relapse. The events with people in our lives do not have to be large events. They could be going out for coffee, talking on the phone or virtually if in-person isn’t an option for a particular time, or taking a walk with someone. Why this is a firm offensive move in recovery: The opponent wants to see you further disconnect and isolate and bring you back into a relationship with it, whether that be wine, beer, liquor, slot machines, cocaine, overworking without boundaries, benzodiazepines, overspending, online gambling games, and the list continues. Reconnecting and interacting with strong support is a buffer to not returning to the disconnection.



3. Establishing and upholding boundaries.


Boundaries are important. Some people favour using the terms “limits” or “preferences.” Those terms may make more sense to you. Understanding your boundaries for you, groups, and organizations is important since the boundaries keep you safe and level-headed. An infringement on boundaries, with or without my knowledge, could pose a trigger for anxiety, frustration, anger, embarrassment, and the like. When I respect other people’s boundaries, I can connect with them more, which goes back to number two above. Of course, when someone’s boundaries are meant to harm me, appropriate responses must be made to protect myself and any others involved. When I respect my boundaries, I am honoring my needs and values. Why this is a firm offensive move in recovery: The opponent wants someone to say “Yes” when they need to say “No” or vice-versa, as this creates further internal conflict. If the challenges with boundaries continue without appropriate intervention, then it brings someone another step closer to participating in behaviour or behaviours not beneficial for them physically, mentally, socially, or spiritually. Establishing, maintaining, and enforcing boundaries is another offensive move against the opponent who wants to see more internal and external chaos in someone’s life.



4. Residing in a sober-conscious living environment.


An environment free of any physical triggers. This could mean the wine in the cellar, the beer in the fridge, or the liquor in the cabinet must go. For those with concerns surrounding online gambling or pornography, electronic devices like tablets or laptops need to stay in a neutral area of the house that doesn’t allow for secret and isolated viewing. Website blockers may need to be implemented on electronic devices. Websites where I may be able to get certain items delivered, such as alcohol, may also need to be blocked. Accountability can help with how someone is doing with their living environment with friends in recovery, a mentor, a sponsor, a therapist, or a coach. If overspending is a concern, the same guidelines apply, just like with gambling and pornography. Why this is a firm offensive move in recovery: The opponent wants to strike where you are a substantial amount of the day, and for most people, that is their living environment. The work environment applies here as well with the same concepts.


I hope these four offensive moves for recovery are applicable on your journey. The opponent wants us to forget we have offensive moves available. Use these frequently as you cross the valleys and the meadows. As always, I wish you the very best.

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