Activity 2: “Step by step” Calendar

Activity 2: “Step by step” Calendar




This activity was built in order to help deal with the daily difficulties of someone who is stopping the consumption of alcohol or drugs. You better than anyone can redefine the rules of the activity according to what you know about your loved one.

This is a dynamic activity you can do with the person you care for. Try to adapt it to the individual (age, gender, level of dependence, preferences, etc.)

1.Draw a calendar with big squares (one month per A3 sheet), like a board game. Here you can use editable and printable calendars from the Internet ( or you can drawn your own.

Draw Stars or Bonus symbols in some squares/days of the month (day 5, day 10, 15…etc, for example) Use other symbols for the other days of the month and adapt the calendar layout and decoration according to her/his preferences

2.Cut and write 30-40 cards. Divide them in 4 categories. Write the name of the category in one side and on the other side:

2.1 Write the top 10 pleasure activities of your carereceiver (focus/distraction)
2.2 Write the name of gifts you know he/she will love to receive (reward)
2.2 Print and paste photographs or scenarios of the most important persons or moments in her/his life (reinforcement/sensitization)
2.3 Describe some important positive characteristic of him/her and the phrase “What makes you uniquely you?” (motivation/Self esteem)

Adapted from:

How to play

Here is an exemple:

1.Squares with stars– represent days where a reward card is used as a prize when what has been stipulated is fulfilled for 5 days (and/or other important marks*). This could mean avoiding completely the substance (drugs) or reducing the quantity (alcohol) during the period. Ask him/her to blindly choose a card representing a gift (reward) among the cards you have drawn.

2.In all other days you should use at least one of other cards:

A.every time you feel or know he/she is thinking about the substance you can use (ask him/her to pick) one focus/distraction card. Prepare everything and join the activity.

-Use a motivation card when you need help to distract and motivate the eviction.

-Use a reward card when he/she has succeeded in a certain risk situation.

-Use a reinforcement/sensitization card when the other cards were not enough to control the situation. This is particularly important when you realize you need to go deep.
At the same time, you can use a motivation card.

-During the Star days you can also use all the other cards if you need. The star is just a basic prize won that day.

-Tick appropriately the days as time goes by. Visually, it may help to motivate both for the activity.

Important notes

Don’t forget, you better than anyone can redefine the rules of the activity according to what you know about the person you care for.

Ideally, he/she should select the card without knowing what is on the back. The surprise factor may be important to motivate and convince him/her to continue “the game“.

Try to dose the number of reward, gifts, etc. according to the individual personality and the financial reality.

Repeat the calendar for the following months. Refine and improve it if needed.