Monthly Archives: August 2017

A Portable Lapse Prevention Plan

Posted on August 29, 2017

Randy Lindel, Facilitator, SMART Recovery Boston

A “lapse” or a “slip” is a brief reengagement with your addictive behavior. Usually, you feel bad about it right afterwards, but weren’t able to successfully avoid it.

Many lapses are triggered by unforeseen events. Some pressure just occurs out of the blue. It’s an important reminder that you can’t control everything – what other people say or do or what happens that you didn’t expect. Strong emotions can result quickly and produce powerful urges.

But, there IS something you can do. And that’s to have a plan for the unexpected.

In SMART Recovery, we have many strategies to use when you know you’re going to be in a social situation. You “play the tape forward,” thinking through the event and develop your plan to deal with what you’re expecting to happen. After being in a few different situations, you refine your plan to a point that it starts to become automatic.

Continue reading

What’s the first step of habit change? Going off autopilot!

Posted on August 22, 2017

– Carrie Wilkens, Clinical Director of the Center for Motivation and Change

Changing behavior requires self-awareness. Changing a well-worn habit in particular requires that you move it from “automatic” to “conscious” so that you can make other behavioral choices. For example, if you don’t even notice that you are reaching for a cigarette as you get into your car, how are you ever going to decide to resist lighting it up?

Habits are influenced by your environment and are set off by environmental cues, sometimes called triggers. Triggers are the people, situations, locations and emotions associated with any behavior you are trying to change. When it comes to substance use, triggers are the environmental variables that provoke “cravings” or the desire to use or engage in the habit. Neuroscientists have studied the trigger effect in the brain—how an encounter with drug paraphernalia or the smell of a long-frequented pub lights up the part of the brain responsible for emotion and instinct, the “feel good” parts of the brain. As you encounter these cues in your daily life, it’s likely that you are on autopilot and don’t even notice how they are linked to your decision to engage in your habit. Scientists have also found that once these habits are engaged, the brain has a difficult time considering the consequences and risks associated with the behavior. In other words, once you are in your car, smoking the cigarette, it’s not likely that you will have the wherewithal to say “this is really bad for my health, I’m going to throw this cigarette and the rest of the pack away right now.”

Continue reading

A Powerful Exercise for Changing Your Thinking

Posted on August 15, 2017

Three Minute Refutations by Michael R. Edelstein Ph.D.

SMART is based in part on the rational (REBT) concepts of Albert Ellis. Here, Michael Edelstein outlines his distinctive style of the application of REBT as an aid to recovery.

In my book Three Minute Therapy, I introduced the cognitive practice of the Three Minute Exercise (TME) to challenge your internal demands–your “I musts,” “Others musts,” and “Life musts.” The Three Minute Refutations (TMR) involves a powerful exercise for changing another type of addictive thinking. It targets your rationalizations or excuses, which arise from your demands. For example, if you have set a smoking quit date and find it uncomfortable to follow through, you may tell yourself you “must” avoid that discomfort and smoke anyway. Or if you have the urge to light up in an area where smoking is prohibited, you may think you “must” satisfy this urge and step outside. These “musts” lead to self-defeating behaviors.

Targeting your “musts”

The Three Minute Exercise (TME), which is discussed in Three Minute Therapy, is ideal for targeting your “musts.” Your “musts” may encourage you to make excuses for not quitting on the appointed date or not abstaining from a cigarette during work hours. Some excuses might be: “I have a lot of stress today, I’ll quit tomorrow” or “I’ll have only one drag, then I’ll stop.” Continue reading

5 Things You Need To Know About Digital Tools for Recovery

Posted on August 8, 2017

Addiction  Recovery 101, with Reid Hester, Ph.D.

“There are a huge number of digital tools to help people with alcohol and drug problems…..It’s really hard to tell, just on the basis of looking at them, what’s going to help you.”
~ Dr. Reid  Hester

Watch to find out what you need to know to find an effective app:

CheckUp & Choices is a confidential online program, based on the 4-Point Program® of SMART Recovery, designed to enhance your efforts to achieve and maintain abstinence. It offers modules for alcohol, marijuana, opioids, stimulants, as well as compulsive gambling.

The 5 Things Series contains footage of Recovery Research Institute interviews with international experts in addiction treatment and recovery.

Reid K. Hester, Ph.D. is the Director of CheckUp & Choices LLC
For More Information Visit: http://checkupandchoices.com/
Continue reading

Words are Hugely Powerful Mediators of Positive Change

Posted on August 1, 2017

Word Choice and Positive Outcomes

The leading barrier to treatment entry by people abusing substances is fear of stigma.

Words matter. Our beliefs about substance abuse and compulsive behavior problems—and the potential for change—are built into the words we use to speak about them. Maybe more importantly in this case is that words are reflective of culture beliefs, and the conveyors of those beliefs and attitudes.

And beliefs inform behavior. One study found that treatment providers who referred to patients as “addicts” had significantly more negative attitudes towards them when compared to treatment providers who referred to patients as having “substance use disorders.”

Words are an attitude, a belief, and have an impact. The leading barrier to treatment entry by people abusing substances is fear of stigma. Stigma is conveyed by word choice. Continue reading