Intervention Spotlight: The Planet of Addiction

Welcome to our Intervention Spotlight section. Each month, we share a featured CBT Plus intervention directly from our clinical manuals.

This month, we introduce a handy intervention about noticing the changes addiction can introduce into one’s life, offering a chance to ponder leaving the planet of addiction.

CBT Plus interventions always use non-judgmental language and respect the client’s contexts. They recognize that the planet of addiction, for now, may be home. It’s a familiar planet with familiar people. The planet of recovery may seem distant, strange, and threatening right now.

This is OK. The intervention introduces the idea that addiction is one place one can live in, but that there are other places.

The Planet of Addiction

Living with addiction could be described as living on a different planet. Someone living in active addiction does not have the same experiences as someone who doesn’t.

It can be helpful for someone contemplating recovery to identify the differences between the two worlds. Recognizing that addiction truly sends you to another planet can be a catalyst for change.

This activity is suitable for groups and individual clients.

Stages of Change: Contemplation, action, maintenance, relapse.

Goal: Increase awareness of addiction to increase motivation for recovery-oriented change.

Method: Client will develop skills to manage thoughts, feelings, and situations without substance use.

What you will need: Paper, writing tools, markers, index cards, poster board with planet image.

  1. Begin with empathy. Ask your client/group about moments of peace they had over the past week, no matter how brief. Ask them to describe this moment in detail. If you see their face relaxing or a faint smile on their face, point this out after your client has finished talking by saying: “I notice that when you talk about _____ (describe peaceful moment) your face _____ (describe impact of moment on facial expression).”

  2. Introduce today’s task: Recognizing the many ways in which addiction has sent you to another planet in which the rules and ways of living are very different.

  3. Work on today’s task: Take out a poster board that looks like this:

  4. Ask the following questions:
    • What do you do on the planet of addiction that you would not do on another planet?
    • What does a typical day look like on the planet of addiction?
    • In what ways does the planet of addiction itself look different
    • What is the terrain like?
    • What is missing on the planet of addiction?
    • Who else lives on the planet of addiction?

      As your client/group give answers, write them on the planet.

  5. When all answers are recorded, ask:
    • How do you feel when you look at this planet?
    • If you had a spaceship and fuel, would you leave?
    • What would it take to leave this planet?

  6. Summarize: Your client has described what the planet of addiction looks like and what it’s like to live there. He has also explored how people act on this planet and what the environment is like.

  7. Assign homework: Give your client/group a worksheet containing the following image:

    Ask your client/group to write or draw on the image what happens on this planet and bring the worksheet to your next meeting.

  8. Closing: Send your client/group home with words of encouragement like these:

    You can think about getting off the planet of addiction. You can take steps to get off the planet of addiction. When you work together on getting off the planet of addiction you have already taken a great step.

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