By Ted Alston, Volunteer Meeting Facilitator
In 2005, William White and Martin Nicolaus wrote that SMART Recovery and other secular recovery groups “were influenced by the work of Carl Rogers and Albert Ellis”1. Ellis gave us the ABC Model and other tools. The influence of Rogers is less direct. I find the writings of Rogers to be tough reads. However, the following quote is clear and may be of interest to students of SMART2.
“We regard the medical model as an extremely inappropriate model for dealing with psychological disturbances. The model that makes more sense is a growth model or a developmental model. In other words we see people as having a potential for growth and development and that can be released under the right psychological climate. We don’t see them as sick and needing a diagnosis, a prescription and a cure; and that is a very fundamental difference with a good many implications” — Carl Rogers, 1978
SMART has no position on the so-called medical model, and Rogers did not find that model necessary. Furthermore, he cautioned against labels.
At different times, Ellis and Rogers were individually recognized as the Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association. From the photos, it is hard to say which psychologist sported the pointiest shirt collar.
2 The quote is from an interview and was selected by editor David Webb for the preface to Significant Aspects of Client-Centered Therapy, Psychology Classics, Carl Rogers.
Details of the interview are at
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.
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
Join us September 22-24 in Ft. Lauderdale
by Bill Greer, SMART Board Member
We are looking forward to seeing you in sunny Florida at #SMARTcon2017 as we celebrate National Recovery Month.
Under the theme Rising Strong, the 2017 SMART Recovery Annual Conference features numerous training and learning opportunities for SMART meeting facilitators, recovery professionals and others dedicated to helping people overcome addictions.
The theme recognizes SMART’s exponential growth to more than 2,400 weekly meetings in over 20 countries – up from less than 700 as recently as 2011.
The event will take place September 22-24 at the GALLERYone DoubleTree Suites hotel in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
The program highlights:
The key player in addiction
By Shelly Tichelaar, CEO & Executive Director, Ranch Creek Recovery
Yes, there really can be too much of a good thing. Dopamine is a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain that relays feelings of pleasure to the brain when we engage in an enjoyable behavior or activity. While human beings inherently rely on dopamine to reinforce survival behaviors such as eating and procreating, this brain chemical also happens to be the key player in addiction.
Out of Control Dopamine
Activated by such things as eating certain foods we love or engaging in romance, dopamine signals the brain that a reward is on its way. When we engage in these pleasurable activities, dopamine sends its chemical message to the brain — the association between the stimulus and the reward become hardwired, a process called conditioning. This stimulus and reward pattern allows the human species to survive.
But when it comes to drug or alcohol use, dopamine levels are released at five to ten times the normal level, flooding the mood center of the brain. The user’s brain associates the extreme rush resulting from the spiked dopamine levels with using the drug of choice, reinforcing the desire to repeat using it. Ultimately, the brain requires more and more of the alcohol or drug to achieve any feelings of pleasure at all, resulting in compulsive drug-seeking behaviors.
Dopamine and Addiction
Most drugs target the brain’s reward system, activating a surge of dopamine that overwhelms the brain. Continue reading
Words of wisdom for those in the New Recovery Advocacy Movement
Guest Blogger: William L. White
Of all the experiences I have had as a recovery advocate, none have been more heart-rending than receiving news that a person prominently involved in recovery advocacy efforts has died of a drug overdose. It reminds me once again that personal health and recovery are the foundation of all larger efforts to educate, advocate, and counsel within the alcohol and other drug problems arena.
This is not a new lesson. Consider, for example, the following stories. John Gough got sober in the Washingtonian revival of the early 1840s, but relapsed three times in the early period of his long career as America’s most charismatic temperance reformer. The lawyer Edward Uniac always stated that he was more vulnerable to the call of alcohol during extended periods of rest than when he was moving from town to town giving his temperance lectures. But Uniac suffered repeated drinking episodes and died in 1869 of an overdose of whiskey and opium while on a temperance lecture tour in Massachusetts. Luther Benson tried to use his own personal struggles with alcohol in the temperance lectures he gave across the country. His tales of continued binge drinking while on the lecture circuit were penned while he was residing in the Indiana Asylum for the Insane. His 1896 autobiography was entitled, Fifteen Years in Hell. Benson truly believed that throwing himself into temperance work could quell his own appetite for alcohol. In retrospect, he was forced to admit the following:
“I learned too late that this was the very worst thing I could have done. I was all the time expending the very strength I so much needed for the restoration of my shattered system.”
The stories of Gough, Uniac, and Benson are not unique. Similar tales were told by others who sought to cure themselves on the temperance lecture circuit. However, recovering people did achieve and maintain stable recovery working in the 19th century temperance movement and within treatment institutions of that era. An important lesson emerged out of the 19th century recovery movements: service activity, by itself, does not constitute a solid program for continued sobriety. This lesson was relearned throughout the 20th century, particularly within the modern rise of addiction counseling as a distinct profession.
A New Recovery Advocacy Movement is spreading across America and beyond, Continue reading