People trying to cope with anxiety, mental health disorders, and drug and alcohol addiction are always looking for a magic bullet. While it’s never quite that easy, one new, practical approach, developed by Cornerstone Recovery Center’s own Clinical Director, Bob Scardino, offers a thoughtful prescription for success.

The 4Ns: Mind Over Matters

The 4Ns – Notice It, Name It, Normalize It, Never Mind It – comprise a strategy for dealing with anxiety that is based on Mr. Scardino’s own experience as he was dealing with his own desire to change and live life comfortably. It all began one day in a group therapy session, when Bob asked himself, “How does one change their perspective or deal with anxiety-triggering or negative thoughts?” He recognized that the process needed to be non-judgmental and that the mind could be conditioned to anticipate and react to the actions of others.

In brief, the 4Ns approach combines elements of two proven behavioral therapies. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) teaches people to work through their thought process, because thought process affects feelings and feelings affect behavior. Through Narrative Behavioral Therapy (NBT), people write their own story, changing the script and thereby avoiding negative behaviors. Their own thought process empowers them to cope with addiction, managing cravings and triggers of behavior. For example, they learn strategies for identifying cravings and using self-distraction techniques to suppress the craving for both drug and alcohol addiction. They also learn when to call on their sponsors or other trusted support for help. This technique has been successful in people with anxiety who, as one client explains, are “playing chess in their mind… ‘If I do this, then this will happen. If this person does that, then I’m going to do this.’” Meditation is also useful in identifying what’s going on around them.

“Over time, cravings go away. Anxiety over time is going to lessen. But in recovery, you can’t stuff the feeling. You have to look at it and make a decision what to do about it, which could be doing nothing.”

Bob Scaradino, Cornerstone

The Process of the 4Ns

One of the best features of the 4Ns is the mnemonics, the ease in remembering the process, which works according to these implementable steps:
Notice It

  • It starts in the mind.
  • Notice when doing it or when you feel it coming on. Don’t suppress or deny it. Use mindfulness to identify what’s going on around you.

Name It

  • Come up with a name for it.
  • To get rid of it, externalize it, name it
  • Anxious about a situation (like going to work)? Have a conversation with yourself or play out the sequence of events. Give the anxiety a name so you can reference it next time you experience it, and say to yourself, “Oh, this is just conflict anxiety.”
  • Have a craving? Name the craving.

Normalize It

  • Recognize that many people experience the same issues. Think, “Why wouldn’t I get anxious? Everyone gets anxious from time to time. It’s normal.”
  • Understand that you are not alone. These are not addict feelings. These are human feelings. Your identity does not need to be tied to those feelings.
  • What’s wrong with a craving? It is normal for an addict to have a craving.

Never Mind It

  • Can you let go of it because it’s minor and you know it’s normal? Is it a 5 or less out of 10? Nip it.
  • Or, do you need to take an action because it’s higher on the scale of 10? Contact a sponsor, other trusted support, or go to meeting.

Cases in Point

As Bob Scardino knows, and as you can tell, this is not theoretical stuff, this is stuff that works. It has worked for him and it’s working for others with drug and alcohol addiction. The following are just a few examples:

  • The work thing – Use it on the way to work when you dread having to deal with an aggravating fellow employee.
  • A festival of influences – You’re at a musical festival at the beach. You smell the pot, remember the 4Ns, and understand that smelling pot at a music festival is normal. Name it, and decide to not pay any more attention to it.
  • Victimized – A 50-year-old woman has felt for most of her life that her mother loves her brother more than her. She names it “victimhood,” a name that resonates with her. She does some journaling and recognizes that she was playing the victim rather than being her real self. She is able to externalize it. Over time, her sense of victimhood dissipates.

At Cornerstone Recovery Center, we provide you with strategies like the 4Ns that help you make good choices for life. If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety or drug and alcohol addiction, please contact our admissions counselor online or call 888-711-0354 today. All communications with our staff are confidential.