Category Archives: Coping With Urges

A Portable Lapse Prevention Plan

Posted on August 29, 2017

Randy Lindel, Facilitator, SMART Recovery Boston

A “lapse” or a “slip” is a brief reengagement with your addictive behavior. Usually, you feel bad about it right afterwards, but weren’t able to successfully avoid it.

Many lapses are triggered by unforeseen events. Some pressure just occurs out of the blue. It’s an important reminder that you can’t control everything – what other people say or do or what happens that you didn’t expect. Strong emotions can result quickly and produce powerful urges.

But, there IS something you can do. And that’s to have a plan for the unexpected.

In SMART Recovery, we have many strategies to use when you know you’re going to be in a social situation. You “play the tape forward,” thinking through the event and develop your plan to deal with what you’re expecting to happen. After being in a few different situations, you refine your plan to a point that it starts to become automatic.

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What’s the first step of habit change? Going off autopilot!

Posted on August 22, 2017

– Carrie Wilkens, Clinical Director of the Center for Motivation and Change

Changing behavior requires self-awareness. Changing a well-worn habit in particular requires that you move it from “automatic” to “conscious” so that you can make other behavioral choices. For example, if you don’t even notice that you are reaching for a cigarette as you get into your car, how are you ever going to decide to resist lighting it up?

Habits are influenced by your environment and are set off by environmental cues, sometimes called triggers. Triggers are the people, situations, locations and emotions associated with any behavior you are trying to change. When it comes to substance use, triggers are the environmental variables that provoke “cravings” or the desire to use or engage in the habit. Neuroscientists have studied the trigger effect in the brain—how an encounter with drug paraphernalia or the smell of a long-frequented pub lights up the part of the brain responsible for emotion and instinct, the “feel good” parts of the brain. As you encounter these cues in your daily life, it’s likely that you are on autopilot and don’t even notice how they are linked to your decision to engage in your habit. Scientists have also found that once these habits are engaged, the brain has a difficult time considering the consequences and risks associated with the behavior. In other words, once you are in your car, smoking the cigarette, it’s not likely that you will have the wherewithal to say “this is really bad for my health, I’m going to throw this cigarette and the rest of the pack away right now.”

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5 Things You Need To Know About Digital Tools for Recovery

Posted on August 8, 2017

Addiction  Recovery 101, with Reid Hester, Ph.D.

“There are a huge number of digital tools to help people with alcohol and drug problems…..It’s really hard to tell, just on the basis of looking at them, what’s going to help you.”
~ Dr. Reid  Hester

Watch to find out what you need to know to find an effective app:

CheckUp & Choices is a confidential online program, based on the 4-Point Program® of SMART Recovery, designed to enhance your efforts to achieve and maintain abstinence. It offers modules for alcohol, marijuana, opioids, stimulants, as well as compulsive gambling.

The 5 Things Series contains footage of Recovery Research Institute interviews with international experts in addiction treatment and recovery.

Reid K. Hester, Ph.D. is the Director of CheckUp & Choices LLC
For More Information Visit: http://checkupandchoices.com/
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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.

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