Category Archives: Managing Thoughts

Stopping a Slip From Becoming a Relapse

Posted on March 3, 2015

Is Relapse Inevitable in Addiction Recovery?
Julie Myers, Psy.D.


Slip Or RelapseFor many with serious substance abuse problems, any drug or alcohol use can be problematic. These people must abstain. If they drink or drug again, they can slip into full-blown relapse, even after months or years of abstinence. For some, even a brief lapse may generate so much self-doubt, guilt, and a belief about personal failure, that the person gives up and continues to use. This tendency is referred to as the abstinence violation effect.

So does this mean that even a brief lapse must lead to a full-blown relapse? Does it mean a person must continue to drink or drug until the use returns to the initial level? Is spiraling out of control inevitable? Simply put, no. A lapse need not become a relapse. After a slip, you have not unlearned all that you have learned. You have not unchanged all that you have changed in your life to support your recovery. You do not have to start counting again from day one. Continue reading

The Wisdom to Know the Difference

Posted on February 24, 2015

An Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Workbook for Overcoming Substance Abuse
~Kelly Wilson, PhD, and Troy DuFrene
Reviewed by Don Sheeley, SMART Recovery® Facilitator

Saratoga Springs, New York

Purchase Learning about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) this summer, and using this workbook in particular, helped me deepen my recovery and broaden the foundation of safety and health that I am looking for in sobriety. In The Wisdom to Know the Difference: An Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Workbook for Overcoming Substance Abuse, Kelly Wilson opens himself up to the reader using his own experiences as engaging illustrations of the pain of addiction, but also as opportunities for personal growth.

After the first chapter, which helps the reader consider whether abstinence will be their goal, Wilson uses the next six chapters to explore ACT, emphasizing the dynamic behavior called for by this model. The chapter goals are, in my words: being able to choose to be still in the present moment rather than reacting to life in our patterns and automatic behaviors; learning to be more psychologically flexible, rather than rigid, predetermined, or stuck; beginning to identify the permanent “You,” able to accept the emotions that create richness in life. The authors remind us why it’s important to learn to not take our “self-stories” too seriously. Self-stories include our self-talk, self-image, and our internal beliefs. The book prompts us to be the authors of our lives rather than passive readers, and to travel our values highway, getting back on without hesitation if we veer off. Continue reading

Help for Low Frustration Tolerance

Posted on February 10, 2015

Conquering Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT)
G. L., SMART Recovery Volunteer

“You can’t always get what you want.” – The Rolling Stones

Stress-Busting
Frus•tra•tion:  The feeling one has when reality does not immediately conform to one’s desires. Frustration is a normal part of the human experience. It’s unavoidable. And in fact it can be quite useful if the feeling of frustration leads to self-improvement or motivates you to better your situation. Sometimes, however, you can get in your own way by having low frustration tolerance (LFT).

LFT is a widespread phenomenon among human beings. It can be defined as “the demand that you get what you want quickly and without hassle.” Wishing or hoping for one’s desires to sometimes be fulfilled quickly and easily is healthy. Demanding that they must be is not, as the world will not often grant you your wish.

LFT can manifest itself as a cascade of two activating events according to the ABC model:

 

How do you go from low to high frustration tolerance (HFT)?

By working backwards; start with the awfulizing over being overly-frustrated before working on the demands that lead to over-frustration in the first place.

There are 3 approaches for dealing with LFT:

Cognitive:

1. Dispute (D) the irrational beliefs that you hold concerning your demands and awfulizing to come to effective new philosophies (E). Remember to start at B2 first, which is the awfulizing

2. Reframing: Part of what makes LFT tough is that you focus on the negatives of not getting what you want while ignoring the positives of working to overcome LFT. Make a list of the positives you’ll get out of life if you develop high frustration tolerance (HFT). For example, you’ll have a better chance of getting what you want, although not at the pace you want. Make a list and carry it on a notecard. Whenever you feel frustrated, remind yourself of the goods of overcoming LFT as opposed to giving in to it

3. Distracting techniques: if you find yourself stewing in frustrated thought, try distracting yourself by surfing the web or watching television to cool yourself down. This is especially helpful in the early stages of conquering LFT

Continue reading

What to Expect at a SMART Recovery® Meeting

Posted on November 11, 2014

meetingSMART Recovery is a self-empowerment program for people having problems with addictive behavior. We currently sponsor more than 1300 face-to-face addiction recovery meetings around the world, and 30 online meetings per week. When an individual in crisis seeks out a SMART meeting, or a professional refers someone to a meeting, it can be helpful to know what to expect. This post is intended to be a quick primer on the elements of a SMART meeting so that people who are new to attending meetings – either face-to-face or online – know what to expect.

Two things to know: First, meeting facilitators are trained by SMART. Some are people who have participated in the SMART program, some are professionals (eg. counselors or social workers), some are friends or family of those who have used the SMART program, and some are concerned citizens willing to provide a meeting in their community. Continue reading

3 Ways to Dispute Irrational Beliefs

Posted on November 4, 2014

Are You a Loser?

QuestionPeople observe their behavior, and evaluate it in terms of how well they like it. If we did not do this, we would have no way of improving how we act.  When people seek help in therapy, in self-help groups, or by reading self-help books, they are not merely observing and thinking of their behaviors and deciding how to make adjustments. Typically, their thinking interferes with their ability to adjust and often they’re mainly aware of their misery.

REBT attempts to show you that (1) events do not automatically create your thoughts, (2) events do not cause your emotions, and (3) by changing your thinking, you will see things differently, and then your thoughts and emotions will aid you instead of interfering with your actions.

Let’s say you failed at something important to you. Compare the following two sets of thoughts regarding how they make you feel, how truthful they are, and how well they help you adjust.

1. I failed and that’s bad. Maybe I didn’t pay close enough attention to what was going on to prevent my failure. I regret that.

2. I should not have failed. It’s awful to fail as I did. Because I did fail, I’m a loser; I can’t stand myself.

Continue reading

Mindfulness

Posted on September 9, 2014

What is Mindfulness?
-Don Sheeley, MD, SMART Recovery Facilitator

What is MindfulnessI use the term “Mindfulness” to mean Active Self-Awareness.

We can be aware of our internal thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, and we can be aware of the interaction of ourselves with the external world (sight, sound, touch, taste, feel). We can be aware that we take in sights and sounds, etc. from the external world and process them and apply our internal thoughts and beliefs to them. Then we can become aware that there is someone who is aware of all that, and that guy is Me, the same me who was 12 years old, then 29, and now 62. (Yikes!) That’s it.

So we’re not really “aware of others.” We are aware that we hear what another says and then we are aware of what we think about that and how we feel about that, and maybe we are aware of how we process that.

Similarly, mindfulness is not necessarily placid, comfortable, or relaxed. Continue reading