Ah the SMART Conference this year! This one was quite personal to me, as Cincinnati is my town, so I was just plain excited period. The hotel, super-convenient to the airport, was just lovely. It may have been my favorite of all our hotels (except the one where you can actually sit out on a balcony and overlook the marina. The staff were warm, friendly and SUPER-helpful, and it was just lovely. Extremely conducive to the type of conference we have — people sitting and talking in little groups, comfy chairs and lots of tables and chairs in an open, inviting space. I am seriously going to offer Marriott our compliments and maybe they’ll even give us a bigger discount next time! It was lovely. Continue reading →
This time each year can be stressful for anyone, but the holidays present a special challenge for people recovering from a substance use disorder. Those in long-term recovery typically are adept at navigating the minefield of temptation at holiday social gatherings. But many of those in their first year of recovery, their friends, and family members wonder how best to celebrate the holidays safely, comfortably, and joyously.
A SMART Recovery group member at VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System (Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center) stated during their first meeting back after a period of absence from SMART, “The ABCs are so annoying, but they really do work.” We had just finished setting our agenda for the meeting. I believe the individual was speaking not only to a group member newer to SMART, but also to themselves as they settled into a chair, ready to begin again in applying SMART’s well-researched tools to their life circumstances: recently released from the hospital and solemnly resolved to do what was needed to rebuild. I appreciated the statement for a number of reasons. It helped other group members to get focused and ready to dive into the ABC tool, it conveyed hope, and it was a great example of just how good Veterans are at telling it like it is. Opinions and experiences can be offered without need for a “polite filter” since meaningful bonds are formed quickly among Veterans in recovery. This makes facilitating SMART Recovery groups within the VA an incredibly dynamic and rewarding experience.
In recent decades, VA has become increasingly focused on providing military Veterans in the United States with evidence-based treatment programs and recovery tools. Continue reading →
We all have triggers. It might be a situation or an emotion; a sight, sound or smell; a holiday or a time of day. Something that our brain learned over time to associate with our addictive behavior, and that it needs to unlearn as we start to break that connection. For me, it was cocktail receptions. They weren’t the only situation I associated with drinking – far from it – but they were one of the toughest. At the end of a long day at a conference, having watched what felt like 11,000 nearly-identical presentations in a row (and gulping down way too much coffee in order to stay alert) those clinking glasses and twinkling lights exerted a powerful pull. And the few times I ‘slipped’ after I quit (fortunately, one-drink slips) were at cocktail receptions. After the second time it happened, I knew I had to confront the situation…by avoiding it. Continue reading →
We live in a world full of instant self-gratification and we have little patience to wait or delay access to our “treats”. Almost everything nowadays is at a click of a button – literally! It is so difficult to say no to those appealing coupons and “must-have-it” deals. Everything around us attempts to help us get what we want faster – instantly, if possible. We want faster cars, faster computers, readily available food, easy access to the movie we want to see, appliances that work without problems, etc. While this may appear as a very appealing benefit of the modern society, it also undermines our ability to manage our frustration, when we do NOT get what we want immediately. Continue reading →
There are as many types of recovery as there are individuals
If there are as many ways to recover as there are individuals, then SMART Recovery®, or any approach, group, or treatment, will appeal to, or be helpful to, only some individuals. I hope that no one associated with SMART Recovery ever overlooks the diversity of addiction recovery. Recoveries are diverse because humans are diverse. In this post, we will look at some of the ways that recoveries differ.
1. Degree of natural recovery – Most of those who recover do so without ever attending a self-help group or treatment center, even if the addiction was severe. These individuals often receive substantial support along the way, but it comes from friends and family. (This does not mean that most of those currently addicted will recovery naturally, but rather that most of those who have recovered have done so naturally.)
2. Involvement goal – If an addictive behavior is defined not simply by use or level of involvement, but primarily by the negative consequences it causes, Continue reading →