Category Archives: Managing Thoughts

Recovery Advocacy is Not a Recovery Program

Posted on June 20, 2017

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

How To Dispute Difficult Thoughts

Posted on June 6, 2017

by Kimberly Winters, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator

Do you sometimes experience difficult thoughts and emotions…the kind that lead to unwanted behaviors?

Emotional upsets can wreak havoc with addiction recovery. SMART Recovery offers tools for disputing difficult thoughts, by examining those thoughts to see if they are true, helpful, hopeful, flexible and nurturing!

Did you know that having a tangible object for each of those questions can be helpful?  Below are some suggestions for items to help with that!

 All of these items can be found around the house, outdoors or at the craft store!

  1. Is this thought TRUE? Find a nice smooth and heavy rock and write TRUE? on it with a black sharpie.  Put that rock in your hand and hold onto it while you help your thought pass through the truth test.
  1. Is this thought HELPING me?  Find something with a smiley on it like a small yellow ball with a smiley face on it or a sticker or even a little kid toy that looks friendly.

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Navigating The Road To Recovery

Posted on May 16, 2017

How can you prevent relapse?
Henry Steinberger, Ph.D.

Relapse prevention is essential in recovery from chemical and behavioral addictions. Why? Because addiction has been found to reoccur more often when steps are not taken to cope with the cravings, urges, peer pressures, situational cues, bodily discomforts, neuro-biological changes, and other factors which pave the way for slips and relapses.

Therefore, we regard relapse as a “normal” (though distinctly undesirable) possibility on the road to recovery. When you choose to view a relapse as a mistake, grist for the mill,  a learning opportunity and a discrete single event rather than viewing it as a total failure and as evidence predictive of failures, then your chances for success increase greatly.

“The person who really thinks, learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” – John Dewey

Top 10 relapse prevention strategies

1. Learn to willingly accept your mind – The first step to preventing relapse is to Continue reading

Mindfulness: How to do it

Posted on April 18, 2017

Part two of a three part series
By Bill Abbott, MD

If you paid careful and mindful attention to Part One of this series on Mindful Awareness enough to want to try it, you might be asking, “How do I do it?”

Practice, practice, practice

Mindful Awareness among other things is a practice in the fullest definition of that word. It is an intention that needs to be acted upon repeatedly, that is not just “one and done” – all fixed. As with any other learned behavior or skill, the more you do this, the more the benefits will grow and accrue.

Repetition means near daily practice and it matters less as to the duration of each practice as it does to the frequency of them; better five minutes a day for a week, than 35 minutes on only one day.

Of course, since Mindful Awareness can be many different things as noted in Part One, there are several aspects to these practices; basic – informal versus formal practices.

Informal practice

Informal practices are many and are all based on the single premise of remembering to pay attention, albeit even briefly, to the present experience many times a day. Many people use reminders or cues over the course of the day Continue reading

Mindfulness: What is it?

Posted on April 11, 2017

Part one of a three part series
By Bill Abbott, MD

I’ve heard much talk lately about Mindfulness with many questions about how useful it might be, so it seems timely to write about it here.

First Mindfulness or Mindful Awareness as I like to call it, is not new, in fact, it is over 2500-years-old. It’s part of the teachings of a man in India named Siddhartha Gautama who is also known as the historical Buddha.

However, in the last century the philosophy and psychology of the Buddhist idea have been transferred here into the West to become a pragmatic secular approach to managing the many stresses of modern life – with outcomes or benefits obtained; reported by thousands of people who learned it and tried it.

Although cognitive psychology has predominated psychotherapy for all sorts of mental challenges in the past two decades, it has become increasingly apparent that Mindful Awareness is a possible different path to mental wellness in a new effective psychology. What can be said at this point is that the approach affords us the chance to self-manage emotions, including those with addiction, now not only in one way, but two. Furthermore, there are numerous scientific studies, evidence if you will, that support the idea that this approach is useful for such things as stress, anxiety, depression, and yes, for addiction.

If this has caught your attention – good. It certainly has mine, and I have found its practice for the past five years significantly transformative in my own recovery. So, you ask, what is it?

Mindful Awareness is easy to describe but more difficult to grasp and practice. However, a simple definition might be:

Mindful Awareness is paying attention to what is happening in the present experience; allowing what is here to be present without judgment. This is acceptance of the here and now.

Continue reading

Is SMART Recovery® a Moderation Organization?

Posted on March 28, 2017

By Tom Horvath Ph.D., Lorie Hammerstrom, and Brett Saarela, LCSW

choices

SMART Recovery® supports (1) abstinence from any substance or activity addiction and (2) going beyond abstinence to lead a meaningful and satisfying life. Our 4-Point ProgramSM addresses addiction itself (Points 1 and 2) and quality of life (Points 3 and 4). Points 3 and 4 are the primary focus of discussion in many meetings. To remind you, Point 1 focuses on motivation to abstain; Point 2 on coping with craving; Point 3 on problem solving (when practical problems can be resolved) and emotional self-management (when practical problems may not be “solvable”); and Point 4 on building a life of enduring satisfactions (a meaningful and purposeful life).

SMART Recovery® encourages attendance by individuals in any stage of recovery. Those maintaining long-term abstinence will likely be most interested in discussions of Points 3 and 4. Those in early recovery will likely pay more attention to Points 1 and 2. SMART Recovery® recognizes that individuals may be in different stages of change, at any one time, across what is likely to be a range of addictive behaviors. For example, one participant may be ready to stop drinking but not ready to stop smoking. Another participant may be ready to quit cocaine but not ready to quit marijuana. Both participants may be drinking excessive caffeine and overeating, and be unaware that these are also addictive behaviors.

Continue reading