I recently heard an interview with a man who’d quit drinking four years earlier after decades of heavy drinking. “So basically I’m now an emotional 17-year-old, since I started drinking when I was 13.” This feeling of emotional immaturity rings true for many people who have given up addictions. When I quit drinking, I didn’t feel like an adolescent—I’d been successful in many areas of my life even while knocking back too much wine—but neither did I feel quite like a grown-up no matter what my birth certificate or my mirror claimed. Continue reading →
I’m walking down the same street I’ve walked down hundreds of times before. Nothing’s changed. It’s the same street. Same stores. Same liquor store, one that has never interested me before because it’s filled with things I can’t have, or rather, let’s say, things I choose not to have. But something is different this time. This time, I really notice the liquor store. This time, I hear a scotch bottle whispering my name.
Well, then, “beam me up, Scotty.”
I see myself walking into the store, picking up a couple of bottles of scotch and two bottles of wine, paying for them and walking back out onto the street. I have been feeling kind of down lately, maybe bored, frustrated, but nothing new has happened that has thrown my life into a tailspin. I’ve just suddenly fallen into a trance and decided to get drunk.
I go home and take out my favorite scotch glass and fill it to the brim. I make a toast to the ether and take a small taste. Continue reading →
Every wonder what it means to be a balanced person? Does it mean being in control all the time? Being calm all the time? Able to handle anything? Moderate in all things? Able to stay composed when everyone else is falling apart? Being someone who manages to always eat right, work out, spend time with friends and family and manage a work life?
The four points of SMART are points, not steps, and the idea is to work on all of them as needed, often at the same time. That said, their order makes sense for someone just starting on their journey toward freedom from an addiction. First they have to build motivation to abstain from the addictive substance or behavior and then they need to be able to cope with urges they will inevitably experience. In this second of four posts on the points of SMART, I’m going to talk about some of the techniques the program offers to those struggling with urges so they don’t have to rely on some vague idea of “willpower.”
In This Moment. Five Steps to Transcending Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience. 2015, New Harbinger, $16.95. By Kirk Strosahl, PhD and Patti Robinson, PhD.
In SMART, we use Tools to reduce stress and disturbances. We use the ABC Tool to reduce our self-made cognitive stress, and create more healthy behavior by changing our thoughts. We use the DISARM Tool to change our relationship to thoughts and bodily sensations, to maintain and regain control over our choices. Stress reduction can reduce reactive behavior and allow humans to focus and move on toward what they decide is important. Continue reading →
The focus will be on how using simple evidence-based tools from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that can help anyone, not just those struggling with addiction. SMART focuses its application of these tools on addictive behavior, specifically, but we can use those same tools to help us learn to better cope with underlying issues – stress, worry, anger, anxiety – and free us to create and enjoy the lives we want. Continue reading →