Monthly Archives: November 2014

Destigmatizing Addiction

Posted on November 18, 2014

What’s In A Name?
~ Brian Sherman, PhD, Center for Motivation and Change


“By continuing to use the term “addict” and “alcoholic,” treatment providers are doing a disservice to their patients and potentially negating progress towards destigmatization and successful long-term treatment.”

The Problem with LabelsWhat’s in a name? Sure, by any other name a rose may smell so sweet, but by any other name would an “addict” feel so stigmatized? Were Shakespeare alive today I would ask that he reconsider his stance. With the gradual pace of change in addiction treatment highlighted by the continued advancement and implementation of evidence-based treatments, why is the field so far behind in not using more clinically appropriate and de-stigmatizing — albeit a bit cumbersome – language such as: “person with a substance use disorder” or “person suffering from addiction”? It has been years now that the field of clinical psychology did away with stigmatizing terms such as “schizophrenic”, “manic-depressive”, or “autistic.” Why then does the field of addiction remain so far behind?

As an addiction psychologist I do not discourage my patients for whom the term “addict” works. If it motivates them to change, fantastic. For many people, the term “addict” is a helpful way of identifying symptoms and issues, and finding a way to connect and bond with others in a healthy way that promotes change. However, when that term creates a prolonged sense of failure or guilt which ultimately may lead to relapse (negative emotions are one of the strongest predictors of relapse) or prevent someone from seeking help in the first place (because they don’t want to accept the label, and the stigma that is associated with it), I question its utility. Continue reading

What to Expect at a SMART Recovery® Meeting

Posted on November 11, 2014

meetingSMART Recovery is a self-empowerment program for people having problems with addictive behavior. We currently sponsor more than 1300 face-to-face addiction recovery meetings around the world, and 30 online meetings per week. When an individual in crisis seeks out a SMART meeting, or a professional refers someone to a meeting, it can be helpful to know what to expect. This post is intended to be a quick primer on the elements of a SMART meeting so that people who are new to attending meetings – either face-to-face or online – know what to expect.

Two things to know: First, meeting facilitators are trained by SMART. Some are people who have participated in the SMART program, some are professionals (eg. counselors or social workers), some are friends or family of those who have used the SMART program, and some are concerned citizens willing to provide a meeting in their community. Continue reading

3 Ways to Dispute Irrational Beliefs

Posted on November 4, 2014

Are You a Loser?

QuestionPeople observe their behavior, and evaluate it in terms of how well they like it. If we did not do this, we would have no way of improving how we act.  When people seek help in therapy, in self-help groups, or by reading self-help books, they are not merely observing and thinking of their behaviors and deciding how to make adjustments. Typically, their thinking interferes with their ability to adjust and often they’re mainly aware of their misery.

REBT attempts to show you that (1) events do not automatically create your thoughts, (2) events do not cause your emotions, and (3) by changing your thinking, you will see things differently, and then your thoughts and emotions will aid you instead of interfering with your actions.

Let’s say you failed at something important to you. Compare the following two sets of thoughts regarding how they make you feel, how truthful they are, and how well they help you adjust.

1. I failed and that’s bad. Maybe I didn’t pay close enough attention to what was going on to prevent my failure. I regret that.

2. I should not have failed. It’s awful to fail as I did. Because I did fail, I’m a loser; I can’t stand myself.

Continue reading