Monthly Archives: December 2011

Take Control of Your Cravings

Posted on December 27, 2011

Take the First Step to Take Control of Your Cravings
by Julie Myers, PsyD

Urge Log

Cravings are controlled by a variety of brain chemicals, including norepinephrine, dopamine, and glutamate. Many people describe their cravings as coming out of nowhere, as if these chemicals pop into their brains and create cravings spontaneously.

These chemicals and the manifestations of cravings are actually triggered by stimuli from external environmental cues and internal mood states, particularly anxiety, irritability, and dysphoria. Environmental cues can include familiar people, places or things, (e.g., being in a favorite place that you used to use). Environmental triggers are often easier to identify than internal mood states, particularly if the moods are subtle. For example, a mildly irritating discussion may be enough to trigger a craving, although it may be difficult to identify this discussion as the trigger.

So does this mean that you are at the mercy of the environment and your own internal mood states? Absolutely not! It means that you can minimize your cravings by employing ways to control your environment and modify your mood. You have the power to choose what people, places and things you expose yourself to that might trigger a craving. You also have the power to recognize and change your own reactions, thereby changing your mood state.

The first step is to identify your specific triggers. Try keeping a simple log of your cravings. What environmental cue did you encounter? What were you feeling? Sit down and write it down. Think about it backwards, from the time that the craving hit, backwards until you can identify something you believe triggered that craving.

If you can identify your triggers, you have taken the first step to taking control of your cravings.

Reprinted with permission:
Copyright (2011) Julie Myers, PsyD: Psychologist in San Diego. All Rights Reserved

Self Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Addiction?

Posted on December 20, 2011

Q&A with Tom Horvath, Ph,D.

Q: Hi, Tom. Thanks so much for talking with us today about the SMART Recovery Program. Perhaps you can start out by giving us a general overview of the SMART Recovery program? Something like a 1 minute “elevator pitch” for someone who is looking for help for possible addiction issues. What will someone who is new to SMART Recovery get out of the program?

A: SMART Recovery has a self-empowering approach to recovery. This approach is ideal for individuals who look at the future and think, “whatever happens, I’m going to do my best to make it work for me.” This self-empowering approach contrasts with the powerlessness or acceptance approach of the 12-steps. I suggest to people that they consider the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Of course we all need serenity, and courage, not to mention wisdom! But some individuals, looking forward, imagine they’ll use courage, more than serenity. SMART Recovery works best for individuals who emphasize courage.

Q: What do people who start SMART Recovery have in common? Continue reading

Relapse Prevention and Coping

Posted on December 6, 2011

Join us for a free online presentation featuring Dr. Tom Horvath


SMART Recovery® is pleased to announce that  Dr. Tom Horvath, President of SMART Recovery will be  speaking  on: Relapse – Prevention and Coping, on Saturday, December 17 at 2:00 pm, (est) in the SMART Room online chat venue at SMART Recovery Online.

Dr. Horvath’s topic is particularly timely during the holidays and looking forward to the New Year. The holidays can be challenging for many and we hope this topic will be of great interest to the community. Dr. Horvath’s appeal is wide, as he examines how any habit can become problematic and offers a window on addressing these tendencies across a wide spectrum of the behaviors that are not serving us well.

Tom Horvath, Ph.D., a California licensed and board certified clinical psychologist (ABPP), has been President of SMART Recovery® for over a decade. He is the founder and president of Practical Recovery, a self-empowering addiction treatment system in San Diego. He is past president of the American Psychological Association’s Society on Addiction Psychology (Division 50), the world’s largest organization of addiction psychologists. He is the author of Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions (listed by the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies as a “Self-Help Book of Merit”). Continue reading