Balance and Meaning

Intentions and notes

The intention of this group is to help people to work out how they will fill their time to avoid relapse, and to start to find meaning and joy in life.

The raisin is the suggested practice because it’s a great way to help people to explore present-moment experience using a real-world, practical exercise, and eating links in nicely to day-to-day life.

If you’re not familiar with the relapse process, it’s laid out in an accessible cartoon in Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behaviours (pp16-17). It goes as follows:

Lifestyle imbalance: shows Fred busy at work, Sunday 7am – LEADS TO

Desire for indulgence: Fred thinks, “Um, glad I’ve got that report out of the way. And now for a nice Sunday” – LEADS TO

Urges and Cravings: Sunday noon Fred thinks of beer – says, “no I’m dry” – LEADS TO

Seemingly Irrelevant Decisions: on the way home Fred thinks, “I must drop in and say hello to Mark on the way” – LEADS TO

at Mark’s house:

High Risk Situation: Mark says, “Hi, come in – I was just having a drink”

Mark says, “you must have a drink with me”

Then the cartoon splits into

1. a coping response, where Fred says no and feels increased self-efficacy

2. a non coping response, where Fred has a drink and feels the rule violation effect, dissonance and conflict, leading to increased chance of further relapse.

As addiction workers we spend a lot of time working on the parts from urges and cravings onwards – but lifestyle balance is the first step, and sets up the rest of the process. If we can get this right, we can stop the rest from snowballing into relapse. As well as Fred’s example of overwork, not doing enough, or having an imbalance between different areas of life works just the same. So here we make this explicit and allow people to explore what they may want to do, ending with one simple step that they can do in the next week to move closer to that life.


Download the printable group outline, worksheets and handout here.

You will need

  • Worksheet (two-sided)
  • Handout
  • Raisin if doing raisin exercise


  • Title and running order of group
  • outline of relapse process
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