Monthly Archives: December 2014

How Do You Turn Down a Drink?

Posted on December 30, 2014

SMART Holiday CelebrationsIs there a social event in your near future that involves alcohol?

For example, you may be planning to celebrate the arrival of the new year with friends or family. If you have an established goal of abstinence and are fairly new to recovery, you may find this event challenging for many reasons, especially if alcohol is being served and your host or other party goers are dead-set on pressing a drink into your hand.

While a simple “no, thank you” is often sufficient for refusing alcohol (or other drugs), it can be helpful to plan ahead for how you will handle the inevitable invitations to drink and other challenges that you may experience.

Here are some things to consider:

Alcohol Refusal Skills

If you know that alcohol will be served at the event, having a plan for how you will respond to any social pressure to drink is important. If you expect to be offered a drink, think about how you will respond, what feels most comfortable for you. Ultimately, you will be looking for a way to refuse alcohol while remaining friendly and respectful.

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Have a convincing refusal ready to use as needed. A convincing refusal is clear, short and to the point (e.g., “No” , or “No, thank you”). Some examples include:

No, thanks… I don’t drink.
No, thanks. I’m not drinking tonight.
No, thank you. I am taking medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol.
Thank you for the offer, but I’d really rather not.

Contrary to what you might expect, Continue reading

Spend the Holidays with SMART Recovery Online

Posted on December 23, 2014

SMART Holiday CelebrationsWinter holidays can be challenging times for people in recovery; support services are closed, family pressures pile up and for many, the holidays can be pretty lonely. Whether to celebrate with others working on recovery or to get some support during a particularly challenging day, remember that the SMART Recovery USA and SMART Recovery UK online communities are available, 24/7.

Christmas Day Open House (Hosted by SMART UK)

Beginning at 5am USA ET (9pm AUS Canberra) the SMART Recovery UK website will be hosting a fun-filled day including a Christmas music, poetry, meetings, and more! The last event is scheduled to end at 7pm USA ET (11 am AUS on 12/26). All are welcome, including those who have a loved one with an addictive behavior.

Registration on the UK site is not required, Continue reading

5 Tips to Enjoy a Sober Holiday Season

Posted on December 16, 2014

Addiction recovery during the Holidays
by Richard Song

Plan For Holiday Triggers

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for people new to recovery. The number of challenges to your recovery can be daunting, between family gatherings, parties where alcohol is present, and emotional triggers such as stress and sadness related to past memories. You can build resistance to these triggers by preparing a plan. Here are some general tips that can help those recovering from an addiction through the holidays:

1) Be careful about which events you attend. Avoid those that will be highly tempting and that focus around “using” such as wine tastings and cocktail parties. When you arrive at an event, take note of the potential triggers and come up with a plan that will address each of those triggers – for instance, position yourself away from the bar.

2) Have a backup plan in case the temptation is too strong or you feel uncomfortable at an event. Bring a sober friend who will support you and leave with you if you don’t feel comfortable staying. If you feel comfortable doing so, let the hosts know your situation. That way, you won’t feel like you offended them if you decide to leave early. Continue reading

Holiday Challenges to Addiction Recovery

Posted on December 9, 2014

What’s your plan?

Holiday TemptationDecember is here and opportunities for urges and cravings seem to be everywhere. SMART volunteers have put their heads together to offer some suggestions to help you navigate this month’s challenges.

People who achieve long-term sobriety have three characteristics in common:

They make a firm commitment to abstinence.
They make lifestyle changes to enhance that commitment.
They plan and practice for urges and drinking situations.



Plan, Plan, Plan

The Change Plan Worksheet is an excellent tool to use when preparing for any holiday events that you will be attending over the next few weeks.


Motivation and Commitment

Updating and reviewing your personal Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) and your personal Hierarchy of Values (HOV) prior to an event can serve to remind you of why this plan is important and what you’re trying to accomplish.


Urge Coping

The holidays are prime-time for urges. This is a good time Continue reading

2014 Annual Conference Videos Are Now Online

Posted on December 2, 2014

SMART Recovery Annual ConferenceMissed it? Want to see it again? SMART’s 2014 Annual Conference is now available for viewing online.

Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (Executive Office of the President) kicked off the celebration of SMART’s 20 years with a resounding reminder that the US national drug control policy includes an understanding that “there are multiple pathways to recovery, that there is no silver bullet for overcoming substance use disorders, no single treatment approach or mutual aid pathway that works for all of us”. He went on to thank SMART for helping countless people find and sustain recovery from substance use disorders over the last 20 years and concluded by presenting a letter from President Obama in recognition of SMART’s 20th Anniversary. This is just one of many highlights from this historic event.

SMARTCON 2014 was streamed live over the internet. This was a first for SMART and was made possible by the generous financial support of an anonymous individual who wanted to make the conference available to those who were unable to attend. The presentations were captured on film and are now available online viewing. Topics covered include:

SMART 101: Tom Horvath, President of SMART Recovery

History of the Recovery Movement: William White, Addiction Historian & Recovery Advocate

Tool Training: Jonathan von Breton, Senior SMART Recovery Online Facilitator

Recovery Advocacy: Tom Coderre (SAMHSA), Tom Horvath (SMART), Steve Gumbley (FAVOR), Peter Gaumond (ONDCP)

Review of SMART’s Strategic Plan

Master Facilitator’s Panel

2014 Joe Gerstein Award Presentation

…and more.

These 2014 SMARTCON presentations and others are now available for online viewing.

Said one conference goer: “This was my first in person exposure to SMART Recovery and I’m blown away by how welcoming everyone was and how professional the attendees and speakers are.

We acknowledge and thank the many volunteers in the D.C. area SMART community for their generous contributions of time and assistance and the AV crew at NGH for their hospitality and excellent behind the scenes work that made everything look and work great!


Thank You! We are grateful to our sponsors: Aton Center, Balance Treatment Center, Center for Motivation & Change, Cliffside Malibu, Muscala Chemical Health Clinic, Practical Recovery, St. Gregory Retreat Center and Sunshine Coast Health Center. Continue reading