Dr. Indra Cidambi, M.D. explains that when treating addiction patients, recommending they keep a journal is very helpful. She uses it as a powerful tool to help clients achieve and maintain recovery. She suggests using it as a way to practice expressing feelings, and to examine ways to avoid relapse. She suggests that instead of writing a synopsis of your entire day, the more effective way is to reflect on the conflicts that impact you or a family member during the day. This will help individuals learn to identify and then address key issues bothering them from day to day; thus giving them plenty of work to work through in therapy. This helps keep clients on top of the daily stressors that tend to eat away at them each day.
Dr. Cidambi has made a short yet effective journaling practice, which is definitely worth giving a shot. It is a highly effective method that only takes five minutes or less each day. It offers personal accountability to the patients as they begin to understand the cycle of addiction, and what their triggers are and will be. This method starts with four columns, each having one sentence:
- What bothers you? Identify the issues bothering you on a daily basis; write it down in one brief sentence.
- How are you feeling? Closely examine the feelings you have associated with the issues identified from step 1; write another sentence on this.
- What action did you take? Did you take any action to address these issues? Write down in one sentence explaining.
- What action or actions are you planning to take if you haven’t already? Write down an action plan in one sentence.
This journaling technique allows you to lie out the problems going on within yourself, get a systematic plan in place to address, and eventually resolve these issues in your life. While Dr. Cidambi recommends having a 12-step sponsor, a therapist to focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness practices; she also suggests this journaling practice as a great added component to help sustain your recovery plan. If anything give it a try and see how the benefits positively impact your life and recovery, happy journaling!