Bibliotherapy (of Sorts) From Tom Sawyer

Ted Alston, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator

Tom SawyerRecovery groups tend to recite quips. For instance, “It’s easy to quit. I’ve done it lots of times.” Mark Twain may have said this of smoking, but the occasion is obscure1,2. Whether or not that one is his, Twain (1835-1910) was a keen observer of humanity. Accordingly, he had much to say about addictive behavior and recovery. Though literary fiction cannot settle controversies, it can help us to think about them. Consider The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

In an early scene3, young Tom shows that the consequences of an event depend on one’s beliefs about it. He is stuck with the odious task of having to whitewash a long fence. Other kids mock his plight. Tom pretends that he relishes the chore and does not want to share it. The mockers are then happy to pay Tom for their privilege of whitewashing his fence. “If he hadn’t run out of whitewash, he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.”

You can argue that the episode is not strictly an example of a SMART exercise. Tom manipulated others more than he improved himself. That aspect is part of the delicious humor. Furthermore, it would have been hard to convince Sawyer or Twain that they were powerless over the beliefs of others. Read more »

Webinar: How to Overcome Addictions in One Lesson

April 12, 2014, 12:00 noon (edt)

Webinar Dr. Michael R. Edelstein, author of Three Minute Therapy will present “How to Overcome Addictions in One Lesson” on Saturday, April 12 2014 at 12:00 noon edt.

This webinar is designed to be helpful for any harmful behavior – drugs, gambling, eating disorders, smoking, self-harm — substance-related or not. Bring your questions! We think you’ll find, as one book reviewer noted, that: “Michael Edelstein cuts through the psychological jargon and makes clear how all of us can effect powerful changes in our psyches, in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones.”

Advance registration is required for this event. Please visit

WebinarDr. Michael R. Edelstein is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 30 years experience and has a private practice in San Francisco, offering in-person as well as telephone/Skype sessions. He is famous as the author of Three Minute Therapy: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, with David Ramsay Steele, a self-help book for overcoming common emotional and behavioral problems. Most recently, he published Stage Fright, with Mick Berry, Therapy Breakthrough: Why Some Psychotherapies Work Better Than Others, with Richard Kujoth and David Ramsay Steele, and Rational Drinking: How to Live Happily With or Without Alcohol, with Will Ross. He is a long-standing SMART Recovery Volunteer. Read more »

Get Involved! Training Scholarships Available!

Make a difference

Volunteer Training Scholarships
As SMART Recovery enters its 20th year and continues to experience record growth, more and more people are “discovering the power of choice” and are eager to benefit from SMART’s 4-Point Program® to overcome addiction.

SMART provides online meetings, a 24/7 chat room, message board forums plus over 1,000 face-to-face meetings worldwide — all “staffed” by an incredible team of dedicated volunteers.

Each April, SMART Recovery celebrates Volunteer Month as a way to recognize the efforts of our many dedicated volunteers. We also actively encourage others to join our volunteer team, to help meet the growing demand for SMART meetings and to share in the rewarding experience of volunteering.

Scholarships are available

As a part of their volunteer ‘jobs’, all SMART facilitators and online volunteers are required to become thoroughly familiar with the SMART 4-Point Program by participating in our Distance Training Program. A number of Volunteer Training Scholarships are available during April to cover the cost of the training for those who need financial assistance. Scholarships are available for local and online facilitators, message board volunteers, and chat volunteers.

Volunteer Training

Supporting the volunteer training

The scholarships are funded through the Volunteer Training Scholarship Fund. During the month of April, donations to fund volunteer training are requested and will be matched by a generous matching pledge from an anonymous supporter of SMART Recovery.

Support Volunteer Training

Partner with us

The rewards of helping others make a difference in their lives are many and long lasting. We invite you to partner with us to grow SMART, either as a volunteer, a donor, or both. You’ll be glad you did! [ More Information ]

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Rational Alternative to “Tough Love”

SMART Tools Help Families & Friends Cope with a Loved One’s Addiction
~Kathy Lang, SMART Recovery Online Facilitator

    “People used to tell me I was enabling my adult son…..and, not helping my own sanity and/or serenity. With the SMART tools and the support of F&F, I’ve changed that, and am able to let him experience the consequences of the way he chooses to live his life. I have to admit, I was also exhausted, angry and resentful, as well…..and, that actually helped me ‘follow through’ and use the Tools and step back out of the way. I’m happy to say that I can see it working a lot of the time…….and I feel better! ~ LYL

    “I am so thankful for this meeting! For the first time I feel like I am actively supported and have some tools to help me CHOOSE. ~Lira Z

SMART Recovery for Family & Friends
These are comments made during Family & Friends (F&F) online meetings. Feedback from participants–parents, spouses, adult children, significant others of all kinds–confirm how SMART Recovery tools for F&F can help a concerned significant other (CSO) learn to more effectively manage their responses to the addiction of a loved one.

SMART F&F meeting facilitator Roxanne Allen says “SMART tools are the centerpiece of the Family & Friends program. Like all SMART meetings, our discussions are not problem-focused, they are solution-focused.”

‘TwoPutts’, one of the first F&F facilitators, says “Since we started the Family & Friends online meetings three years ago, I have watched them grow into a vital element of SMART Recovery. The information in the Family & Friends Handbook, particularly the tools, has proven to be successful in quickly assisting those who had previously found little help in facing their challenging situations.”

As a more recent online meeting facilitator, I discovered fairly quickly that the practical help that SMART tools provide is an important reason for the meetings’ success. Each meeting Read more »

Slipping off the Path of Addiction Recovery

Anatomy of a Relapse
~Josh King, PsyD, Center for Motivation and Change

TetherRelapses (and lapses and slips, whatever you want to call a return to old behavior) are frustrating events. Sometimes it feels like you’re (finally!) on the path you want to be on, and then, out of the blue, you fall off of that path and feel like you are back at the beginning (and that is sometimes what people tell you!). While it can feel like a lapse happens without much warning, it’s best to think of it as a process that happens over time. The reality is that people tend to drift towards a relapse, like a boat that has lost its mooring and is drifting out to sea. The movement can be slow and can go almost unnoticed until you are already adrift. By knowing what is “mooring” you to sobriety, or the changes you want to make, you can be more aware of when the “mooring lines” are getting cut and you are drifting into a lapse to old behavior.

Change-Supporting Activities

When you change your use of substances Read more »

Rewiring Your Brain

Addiction recovery and your brain

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.”
~Robert Frost

neural pathwaysImagine that you are standing at the edge of a dense forest. You want to go home, which is on the other side to the forest. You see a well-worn path entering the forest, and that path appears to be the easiest way through the trees.

But then, next to the path, you see a sign which reads “This Way to the Party!” An old friend appears and tells you, “Hey, this is a great party! You are missing out! Let’s go!” and he starts to pull you by the arm toward the well-worn path. You are tempted to join him, but on the other hand, you have been thinking lately that going down that well-worn path is not helping you to achieve your goals.

As you are thinking about this, another friend appears, a new friend, and he says, “I’ve got a better idea. Read more »

Crystallization Of Discontent

Motivation For Self-Change
Pete Soderman, SMART Recovery® Facilitator

discontentThree-quarters of us who have abused or were dependent upon a substance or activity have either self-remitted or moderated to non-abusive levels, either completely on our own, or with minimal help. That we have done so without formal treatment or self-help programs has been well-established by the scientific community in many detailed studies over several decades. In fact, at least 34 studies have indicated that the single most effective treatment method for dependence is a single brief intervention from a trusted health-care provider, such as a family doctor.

In 1999, I was sitting on a hospital bed, waiting to be released, merely five days after a major heart attack, wondering how to convince my wife to stop on the way home for a carton of cigarettes. Before my cardiologist signed the release, she looked me right in the eyes and told me that if I started smoking again, my chances of dying, and doing it quickly, were four times greater than if I didn’t. If that wasn’t enough, my wife told me on the way home that she would leave me, should I ever smoke again, because she couldn’t stay around to watch me die. I have never smoked again! Read more »

5 Alternatives to 12-step Meetings

Multiple Options for Addiction Recovery

Self Help Support for Addiction RecoveryIn the 1730s Native Americans organized the first abstinence-based recovery circles. Since that time, a variety of groups have come and gone, but the efficacy of self-help meetings for addiction recovery has been well researched and proven to be effective in many ways.

In the 20th century the most well known mutual support groups were based on the 12-step model, the most widely available of these being Alcoholics Anonymous. For many years, the 12-step model was an integral part of the treatment program for many of those who sought professional assistance to help them quit an addiction. Over time, the public grew to perceive that regular attendance and participation in 12-step meetings was a requirement of recovery. However, as addiction research has progressed, we now know that there is not one program that is helpful for everyone. People are different and have different needs. For example, many people do better with a model that does not involve a spiritual component; many people do better with a self-empowering approach. We also know that people seeking recovery from addiction have a better outcome when they are able to make informed choices about the mutual support groups they attend.

Many paths to recovery

There are a number of support groups and alternatives to 12-step recovery that stand ready to help people overcome their addiction to substances and behaviors. Read more »

Help for Families: “Beyond Addiction”

How Science and Kindness Help People Change
Roxanne A., SMART Recovery Meeting Facilitator

“Things get better with CRAFT. Families feel better, substance use often decreases, and people with substance problems usually enter treatment when a family member uses CRAFT.” ~Beyond Addiction

Help for Families Dealing with Addiction
There is a much better option for families than using “tough love” with a Loved One (LO) who has substance problems. Contrary to commonly quoted suggestions for families to “practice tough love”, “detach with love”, and “let them hit bottom”, families can learn a more effective way to interact with their LO. It has been found in clinical studies that families using CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training), are twice as likely to influence their LO to seek treatment for addictions than if they used a confrontative Johnson-style intervention.

Dr. Robert J. Meyers, Ph.D. first introduced CRAFT to the public ten years ago in his ground-breaking book Get Your Loved One Sober – Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading and Threatening which is used as a resource in the SMART Recovery Family & Friends program.

In their much anticipated new book, Beyond Addiction – How Science and Kindness Help People Change, senior staff members Jeffrey Foote, Ph.D., Carrie Wilkins, Ph.D. and Nicole Kosanke, Ph.D. from the Center for Motivation and Change in New York City, offer a message of hope and how-tos in this clearly written guide for families wishing to learn CRAFT techniques. Read more »

Why Abstinence?

Ten Good Mental Health Reasons Not to Drink Alcohol

Consuming alcohol may make matters more difficult for people suffering from mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and impulse control disorders. Even having a couple of drinks a day carries consequences that affect brain and body functioning, leaving a negative impact on mental well-being. Sometimes, people feeling high amounts of stress, pain, anxiety, and impulse turn to alcohol to find short-term relief, without realizing that using substances can limit the progress of reaching long-term emotional stability. Alcohol may cause moodiness, lower inhibitions, upset the cycle of restorative sleep, increase the symptoms of depression, and interfere with prescribed medication. Avoiding alcohol completely may be a good idea if you have concerns with anxiety, depression, and impulse control.

10 Reasons Not to Drink

Source: Graphic designed by Dr. Jesse Viner, MD, executive medical director of the Yellowbrick Treatment Center for young adults.

Discover the Power of Choice! Your behavior is your responsibility and you have the freedom to choose. For even more reasons to consider abstinence as a goal and why experts often recommend it, visit the SMART Recovery website.

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