Category Archives: Coping With Urges

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

5 Tips to Enjoy a Sober Holiday Season

Posted on December 16, 2014

Addiction recovery during the Holidays
by Richard Song

Plan For Holiday Triggers

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for people new to recovery. The number of challenges to your recovery can be daunting, between family gatherings, parties where alcohol is present, and emotional triggers such as stress and sadness related to past memories. You can build resistance to these triggers by preparing a plan. Here are some general tips that can help those recovering from an addiction through the holidays:

1) Be careful about which events you attend. Avoid those that will be highly tempting and that focus around “using” such as wine tastings and cocktail parties. When you arrive at an event, take note of the potential triggers and come up with a plan that will address each of those triggers – for instance, position yourself away from the bar.

2) Have a backup plan in case the temptation is too strong or you feel uncomfortable at an event. Bring a sober friend who will support you and leave with you if you don’t feel comfortable staying. If you feel comfortable doing so, let the hosts know your situation. That way, you won’t feel like you offended them if you decide to leave early. Continue reading

Holiday Challenges to Addiction Recovery

Posted on December 9, 2014

What’s your plan?

Holiday TemptationDecember is here and opportunities for urges and cravings seem to be everywhere. SMART volunteers have put their heads together to offer some suggestions to help you navigate this month’s challenges.

People who achieve long-term sobriety have three characteristics in common:

They make a firm commitment to abstinence.
They make lifestyle changes to enhance that commitment.
They plan and practice for urges and drinking situations.



Plan, Plan, Plan

The Change Plan Worksheet is an excellent tool to use when preparing for any holiday events that you will be attending over the next few weeks.


Motivation and Commitment

Updating and reviewing your personal Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) and your personal Hierarchy of Values (HOV) prior to an event can serve to remind you of why this plan is important and what you’re trying to accomplish.


Urge Coping

The holidays are prime-time for urges. This is a good time 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