Death says, ‘I’m coming, so live!’
Your responsibility to follow your path of greatest advantage does not end until you do. Many people have an easy time during the early phases of this passage, even though some have to put up with physiological withdrawal symptoms. When they are conscious of such a challenge most humans demonstrate impressive feats of will. Nevertheless, as time elapses it is easy to lose respect for the power of the incentive, the ultimate cause of most relapses.
Never lose respect for the power of a nearby incentive to grab your attention and then bias how you perceive the world and appraise the options available to you. The power that a stimulus has to capture your attention and thereby elicit a state change is called Stimulus Salience. The greater the salience of a stimulus, the greater is the likelihood that it will capture your attention and elicit state-dependent changes in perception and appraisal that promote relapse.
The mismatch between salience and meaning
There is always a battle for your attention — and hence for control of your state of mind — between the most salient stimuli, typically stressors and temptations, and the most meaningful stimuli that influence you to act in accord with your interests and principles. Never lose respect for the power of a salient stimulus to grab your attention and elicit a trance formation that distorts how you perceive the world and appraise the options available to you.
While some Incentive Use Disorders are physically destructive [substance use, excessive appetites] others are destructive in a passive sense. In these cases, the addictive incentive is meaningless — it is only important in the negative sense that it pulls you in a different direction than your Core Motivation, but it is highly salient. The purpose of your life is not, not using the incentive. Rather, it is your opportunity to use your gifts — time, energy, talent — in the service of your interests and principles.
Addictive traps are tragic, because they can consume significant portions of a person's lifespan — including the time spent trying to escape them. You can use you lease on life any way you want, but whatever you choose comes at the expense of what you could have done with that time and energly. Lost opportunities cannot be recovered. However, you do not have to get into or continue a pattern of recovery and relapse. Relapse Prevention is another title for the process of replacing an addictive incentive with your Core Motivation as the primary determinant of your actions and the course of your life.
Exercising your will — the process by which you transform your experiential intentions into concrete reality — is a two-phase process. First is the intellectual appreciation of the challenge that faces you, and second is training the creature you inhabit to do what it takes to achieve what you define as good outcome.