Monthly Archives: December 2013

Oxygen Mask Rule

Posted on December 17, 2013

An addiction recovery metaphor

Recovery FIRST!
My sister is really getting on my last nerve! Do I really have to to go to this party?! My Mother-in-law is visiting for a week!? Really?!

Ever hear of the Oxygen Mask Rule?

Every time we fly, we hear flight attendants sharing some variation of the Oxygen Mask Rule:

      “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose

    before assisting others.

    Why put on our mask first? What could possibly be wrong with helping others first?

    In the case of the airplane, oxygen masks are deployed in situations where the oxygen level has dropped dangerously low. Without our oxygen mask, we will quickly lose consciousness. Each of us is responsible for our own oxygen. If we don’t make putting on our mask our first priority, we are at serious risk of not being able to breathe at all.

    So what does this have to do with addiction recovery? Continue reading

    Holding it All Together

    Posted on December 10, 2013

    Triggers v. Tethers
    ~ Matt Robert

    The world of addiction recovery has plenty of negative terms for relapsing and its causes. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a reliable term for the positive stuff we do to keep it together?


    I’d like to propose introducing a new term into the language of recovery — one that fills an empty space, where a core term might be useful. I’m talking about a positive counterpart to the term “trigger.”

    Most people know “trigger” as a cue that can initiate a negative behavior. It can be a person, place, a familiar situation — anything that may compel somebody to return to the behavior they are trying abstain from. Common triggers involve seeing a familiar bar or liquor store, running into a using buddy from the old neighborhood, something that causes undue stress. These are things people spend a lot of time avoiding in early recovery, and developing strategies to manage them more effectively.

    But what about the things that help re-engage a person in life — that give their life meaning? Going to church, exercise, meditation, walking their dog — the things that help to hold on to sobriety, not threaten to wrench it away, like triggers do. Things people try to learn or rediscover in recovery, to fill the gap that drinking or using once filled. Usually these things are specific activities or events, just like triggers are. Yet there is no general term for such restorative habits and activities. Continue reading