Relapse Prevention:
Using the Telephone

Dual Recovery Anonymous™ is an independent, nonprofessional, Twelve Step, self-help membership organization for people with a dual diagnosis.

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Using the Telephone

If you don’t want to slip, stay out of slippery places.

The telephone helps us share on a one-to-one basis and avoid isolation. The telephone is a tool with which we learn to reach out, ask for help, and extend help to others.

The telephone also provides an immediate outlet for those hard-to-handle feelings and cravings of early recovery.

The telephone is our meeting between meetings. By making contact with others, we begin to break out of the isolation that is so often characteristic of our illnesses.

One very popular recovery tool is to acquire or make a phone list. A phone list is a set of emergency phone numbers of supportive others who can be relied on for help in one way or another.

Some DRA and other 12 Step groups maintain a list of members with some recovery experience who are willing to take calls from newer members who may be having trouble with cravings or other minor recovery related problems. Often members will offer other members their number before or after meetings just for this reason.

It pays to have at least several different numbers to call. It’s very possible that at the precise moment help is needed, several of the people on your list won’t be available. They may be at work, sleeping, very busy, or otherwise away from their phones.

We also learn that it’s ok to call our professional resources in times of need. If we are having problems with our medications or an increase in symptoms, calling our psychiatrist’s office to let them know about the situation is part of learning to take responsibility for our own recovery.

Our doctors and therapists may be busy people but they are concerned about our well-being and appreciate our dual recovery. They may approve an adjustment in meds over the phone, offer an expedited appointment, or a different coping technique to try.

The telephone has proved to be a lifeline for countless recovering addicts and alcoholics. One recovering person talking to another has proved time and time again to be powerful enough to keep them from taking that first drink or drug.

The thing is, we have to learn to make those calls before using the drugs or taking the drink. Many of us need to practice using this tool. We may have an intense fear of rejection or feel unworthy. We may have certain anxieties to overcome. It’s ok to ask a person who gives you their phone number if you can practice using it.

At first, few of us are comfortable reaching out for support. Keep in mind though, that using the telephone for support is a longstanding and deeply engrained tradition throughout all Twelve Step communities and fellowships. Besides meetings, the telephone is our main tool for networking with other recovering people.

The Internet is also becoming a valuable recovery tool. Not only for general recovery information like this web site, but for personal support with the various instant messaging and Internet chat programs that have become popular.

Online recovery groups, chat rooms, and e-mail discussion lists are plentiful on the Internet, however, they are not meant to substitute or replace real live face to face support meetings.

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