Category Archives: Family & Friends

Join The Voices For Recovery

Posted on August 16, 2016

September “Recovery Month” Celebrations

recovery month large

There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Each September, tens of thousands of prevention, treatment and recovery programs and facilities around the country celebrate National Recovery Month. They speak about the gains made by those in recovery and share their success stories with their neighbors, friends and colleagues. In doing so, everyone contributes to increased awareness and a greater understanding of addiction and recovery.

National Recovery Month, sponsored by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), is a national observance held every September  to  celebrate recovery and  reinforce the positive messages Continue reading

Supporting Recovery Without Enabling

Posted on August 2, 2016

In Epidemics, Hippocrates said, “Make a habit of two things–to help, or at least to do no harm.” How can we apply that idea to helping family and friends with addictions?

When we care about individuals who are trying to overcome addictions, we often face dilemmas in how best to help them. For instance, if I help someone by providing money for some critical need, am I supporting recovery by preventing some degree of “disaster”? Or am I just shielding the person from negative consequences that might motivate lasting behavior change? The latter, of course, is AKA the E word: Enabling.  This article will identify some things to consider when you face that kind of decision.

What is support? I suggest that support, at its root, consists of two things: paying attention and active helping. I could pay attention to a friend who wants to quit smoking by listening to her talk about her cravings to smoke and how she copes with these cravings. I could actively help her by informing her of new tobacco cessation products (if she was unfamiliar with them). I could take her to a SMART Recovery® meeting (especially if she felt awkward going alone), or spend a non-smoking evening with her  (when her other options were to be alone or be with smokers).

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How the Addiction and Recovery Process Differs with Teens

Posted on May 23, 2016

teen_postBeing a teenager is difficult enough, but when it when it comes to substance abuse, teens face their own set of challenges. Yet in many instances, the reasons for their addiction provide the focus for their rehabilitation. Most teens are:

Physically Immature

Obviously, adolescents are smaller in stature. They weigh less. And most importantly, their brains are not fully developed. This means that the same amount of alcohol or drugs taken by an adult is going to have a greater impact on a smaller person with a less sophisticated cognitive system.

Therefore, the road to recovery includes help in understanding the future consequences of addiction for a growing body and brain. Teens believe they are immortal. They rarely focus on how addiction can damage their kidneys, increase their chances of contracting HIV or change the way their brain perceives pleasure.

Acting Out

Many teens have self-image problems. They are insecure, shy and not socially experienced—which makes them highly susceptible to peer pressure. They go along with the crowd, maybe not because they really want to drink or try drugs, but because they want to fit in.

For this reason, recovery starts with therapeutic counseling, in order to understand the issues that trigger the addiction. These vary with each teen, but often include negative body image, conflict at home, trouble with academics or sexual abuse. Finding the root of the problem is the key to solving it.

Involuntary Participants

The majority of teenagers are forced into rehab by their parents, court or school. This is not the ideal situation, because an involuntary participant is frequently an unwilling participant.

For this reason, family involvement is crucial in treating teenagers. Rehab counseling stresses improved communication to smooth the relationship between parents and their children. Teens see their parents are willing to work alongside them in the recovery process.1)SMART Recovery’s program for Family & Friends includes tools from CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training).  CRAFT is a 20+ year old an evidence-based approach, found to be significantly more successful than other frequently recommended approaches such as interventions.  The goal of CRAFT is to improve communication, smooth the relationship and find ways to be truly supportive, in a healthy way.

Missing Activities

Addicted teens do not have the mental acuity or physical coordination required to participate in sports, music or art. These teens are missing out on many extracurricular activities, and they don’t even realize their loss.

Social events and sports, creative outlets and outdoor adventures are just some of the options that rehab programs can offer. It is easier for teens to give up a bad habit if they can replace it with an appealing new interest.


Young people have their whole lives ahead of them. While this is the ideal time for them to embrace abstinence, it can also seem like an impossible goal to give up alcohol or drugs for the next 60, 70 or 80 years.

Therefore, recovery programs for teenagers don’t promise a quick fix. Instead, they provide after-care or post-treatment programs of continuing therapy. Support groups (e.g., SMART Recovery, LifeRing, Women for Sobriety, etc.) and 12-step programs also help teens stay focused after they have completed the initial recovery program.

The good news, of course, is that the sooner teenagers embrace recovery, the sooner they will be able to embrace their full potential. Rehabilitation provides them with a richer emotional and social life, while it allows them to become healthy, well-rounded adults.

About the author

Patricia L. Ryding, Psy.D is Executive Director of Beach House Center for Recovery, a drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation center in Juno Beach, Florida. She is a licensed clinical psychologist who brings over 30 years of experience as both a clinician and an administrator in the behavioral healthcare field to her writing.

References   [ + ]

1. SMART Recovery’s program for Family & Friends includes tools from CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training).  CRAFT is a 20+ year old an evidence-based approach, found to be significantly more successful than other frequently recommended approaches such as interventions.  The goal of CRAFT is to improve communication, smooth the relationship and find ways to be truly supportive, in a healthy way.

Upcoming event: Talking about Addiction for Kids and Young Adults

Posted on February 15, 2016

Stanton Peele Interview

Interview with Dr. Stanton Peele by Dr. Tom Horvath, President, SMART Recovery

Saturday, February 20, 5:00PM EST

To register for this online event, just go to and hit “Register for this free event.” 

This will be a wide-ranging talk about addiction and today’s youth and teens. Dr. Horvath, SMART’s President, will interview Dr. Stanton Peele on what is needed in society, in public policy, for parents, and for those in the caring and justice professions, to better help our young people.And for young adults, we want to show you the power of making your own choices and having solid resources for decision-making readily available, so you can assess what’s best for you and live a life of freedom and power. Continue reading

How To Avoid Conversation Traps

Posted on January 27, 2016

– reposted from the Center for Motivation and Change blog


holidaysIf you are someone who would like to help a loved one change their relationship with substances or to make any behavioral change, there are four essential tools you can learn. First, Helping through Understanding or thinking about issues of addiction differently using the science we now have available. Second, Helping by Taking Care of Yourself as you need to be able to survive and thrive while trying to help. Third, Helping through Words or learning positive communication strategies that shift the conversation from negative to positive. And Fourth, Helping with Actions which are usually using positive reinforcement strategies.

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Celebrating the Holidays with Recovering Family Members and Friends

Posted on November 17, 2015

Peter Gaumond, Chief, ONDCP Recovery Branch

Holidays in RecoveryThis time each year can be stressful for anyone, but the holidays present a special challenge for people recovering from a substance use disorder. Those in long-term recovery typically are adept at navigating the minefield of temptation at holiday social gatherings. But many of those in their first year of recovery, their friends, and family members wonder how best to celebrate the holidays safely, comfortably, and joyously.

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