Category Archives: Coping With Urges

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

3 Reasons ‘Practice Makes Perfect’

Posted on February 3, 2015

Practice Makes Perfect
Josh King, PsyD, Center for Motivation and Change
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“Transforming a habit isn’t necessarily easy or quick. It isn’t always simple but it IS possible.” ~Charles Duhigg

PracticeOften, the process of making lasting change requires trying new and unfamiliar things. Maybe it’s walking to work a different way so you can avoid a tempting or triggering location. Maybe it’s practicing new coping skills in the face of an old problem. Maybe it’s reaching out to other people when you normally would go it alone.

Deliberately practicing new behavior has three effects: 1) you get better at doing it, which increases the odds that you will be successful at it when it matters, 2) you start to replace the old habits with new ones, and 3) you develop the habit of replacing old habits!

First, remember that when you are trying out something new, it is best to practice that skill when the stakes aren’t too high. You wouldn’t want to shoot your first ever free-throw in the NBA finals! Instead, practice a new skill when the pressure is low, so you can get used to it and fine-tune it in relative comfort. Then, you’ll know just what to do when you really need it later.

The second effect, replacing old habits, is a big one. Recent research has shown Continue reading

Webinar: “ACT SMART!”

Posted on January 27, 2015

Does ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) Work With SMART Recovery?
5:00 pm EST, January 31, 2015

Dr. Hank Robb: ACT SMART!
Register Today

Webinar: ACT SMARTAcceptance & Commitment Therapy, or ACT (typically pronounced as the word “act”) is one of several acceptance-based, “newest generation,” cognitive behavioral therapies. ACT has generated considerable empirical research and is showing great promise, clinically. It has much in common with earlier cognitive therapy approaches (e.g., Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)) including a focus on acceptance. Many of our professionals are finding its approach and tools intriguing and highly useful.

Dr. Robb is an expert in both ACT and REBT, and we have asked him to share ways in which some of the insight from ACT might complement the SMART principals and tools of SMART Recovery.

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy is a “psychological flexibility model” with 6 key concepts:

1) Self as Context
2) Acceptance
3) Defusion
4) Commitment
5) Values
6) Present Moment Awareness

These six can be captured in the question,

“Given the difference between you and the stuff you are struggling with (thoughts and feelings), are you willing to have that stuff as it is, rather than what it seems to be – monstrous; and right here, right now, act in the service of the Big Picture you choose for your life?”

We are pleased to present this SMART Recovery Webinar, as a free public service. We believe the general public and the SMART community will find the discussion of great interest. Check out the SMART community at www.smartrecovery.org, and please enjoy podcasts of our previous events at: www.smartrecovery.libsyn.com!


Dr. Hank Robb has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Nebraska and is a Supervisor for the Institute for Rational Emotive Therapy, New York. He is board certified in both Counseling Psychology and Behavioral & Cognitive Psychology and is certified in the Treatment of Alcohol and Other Psychoactive Substance Use Disorders. In addition, he is an ACT Trainer. He previously served as President of the American Board of Counseling Psychology. Continue reading

Having Trouble “Staying Stopped”?

Posted on January 13, 2015

Refuting Your Excuses
by Brad Lyman and Michael Edelstein, Ph.D.

“It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.” ~Mark Twain

Excuses Stopping? Easy. “Staying stopped?” Not so much.

Have you ever had thoughts like these?:

“I can start tomorrow”, “I really need a drink”, “I’m too tired”, “I’ll just have one”, “This is how I have fun with my friends, it’s not hurting anybody,” “It’s too hard to quit.”

“Excuses” are statements we sometimes make to ourselves that make our addictive behavior seem reasonable.

In other words, we use excuses to justify behavior that we know is harmful. These excuses are destructive. They block, interfere, or sabotage our goals of addiction recovery and more. We may be so practiced in thinking these excuses that they have become automatic. We may not even be aware that we’re making these excuses unless we pay close attention to our thoughts.

“Refutations” are statements that disprove or weaken an “excuse.”

“Refuting Your Excuses” is an exercise for learning to pay attention to our habitual excuses and to evaluate them logically. Is the excuse true? Does it make good sense? Is it helpful?

How to Refute an Excuse:

1. For a recurring or current excuse you use, Continue reading

How Do You Turn Down a Drink?

Posted on December 30, 2014

SMART Holiday CelebrationsIs there a social event in your near future that involves alcohol?

For example, you may be planning to celebrate the arrival of the new year with friends or family. If you have an established goal of abstinence and are fairly new to recovery, you may find this event challenging for many reasons, especially if alcohol is being served and your host or other party goers are dead-set on pressing a drink into your hand.

While a simple “no, thank you” is often sufficient for refusing alcohol (or other drugs), it can be helpful to plan ahead for how you will handle the inevitable invitations to drink and other challenges that you may experience.

Here are some things to consider:

Alcohol Refusal Skills

If you know that alcohol will be served at the event, having a plan for how you will respond to any social pressure to drink is important. If you expect to be offered a drink, think about how you will respond, what feels most comfortable for you. Ultimately, you will be looking for a way to refuse alcohol while remaining friendly and respectful.

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Have a convincing refusal ready to use as needed. A convincing refusal is clear, short and to the point (e.g., “No” , or “No, thank you”). Some examples include:

No, thanks… I don’t drink.
No, thanks. I’m not drinking tonight.
No, thank you. I am taking medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol.
Thank you for the offer, but I’d really rather not.

Contrary to what you might expect, Continue reading