Addiction Recovery Analogy

Posted on October 12, 2015

(Originally Posted on January 20, 2015)

The Horse and Buggy of SMART Recovery
by Rev Dr Kim Miller, SMART Recovery Facilitator, Australia

First, a story: Back in the days of the 1930s depression, which saw many people traveling the countryside looking for work, there was a man walking along a back road from one town to the next. He was carrying his stuff in an old bag over one shoulder and was obviously weighed down by it all. A local farmer in a horse and buggy pulled up beside him.

“Like a lift, buddy? Hop up here.”

So the man got up and sat on the seat next to the farmer, his bag of belongings still over one shoulder. After a while the farmer looked over and said to him, “Why don’t you put your stuff down behind the seat? It looks heavy.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t do that,” said the man. “You’ve been good enough already, giving me a lift and all. I can’t expect you to carry my stuff as well.”

It’s the story of SMART Recovery.

Getting help comes in all shapes and sizes, and happens at different levels. Walking into a SMART Recovery meeting is where we get up on the seat next to the driver. Getting the load off our shoulder is a different level altogether.

It’s possible to sit in a SMART Recovery meeting and say nothing. We have that right and nobody is forced to speak. Most people start slowly because building trust can take time, but long term silence is a different matter.

It’s also possible to speak without saying anything of our own situation. We might find it easier to give advice to another attendee, or speak in generalities or quote other people or use catch-phrases and proverbs that seem to hold a bit of wisdom. There are many ways to talk without saying anything that will promote our recovery.

The important part of SMART Recovery to catch is that at one level we are dealing with our thoughts, feelings and behaviours as an individual – and this is where personal change always happens. At another level, we know that the way into those thoughts, feelings and behaviours is through the guided group conversation of an active SMART Recovery meeting.

When we get up in that farmer’s buggy we can still be carrying our stuff over our shoulder and be reluctant to put it down. Be assured that a SMART Recovery meeting can take the extra weight when we let go our hold of all that stuff.

The irony is that when somebody sits in a SMART Recovery meeting and says little or nothing of their own situation, the other attendees pick up on it. They might not say anything but they notice. And in noticing, they are carrying some part of the weight anyway. Just as when the man sat in the buggy with his stuff over his shoulder, the driver noticed it and the horse up front still felt the weight.

When you walk into a SMART Recovery meeting, give a little thought to the man carrying the bundle of stuff over his shoulder. The story might be enough to encourage you to be a little more open, a little more trusting, and perhaps get you a little further along your road of addiction recovery.

Kim Miller is a departmental prison chaplain in NSW, Australia. He is the department’s only community chaplain, working in a post-release project called Home For Good. The team includes drug and alcohol counselors and Kim joins them in facilitating SMART Recovery meetings. His PhD work involves the psychology of personal growth and transformation and how we become more fully ourselves. Kim enjoys writing and has published several books.

Private, Convenient, Online Recovery Support

Posted on October 5, 2015

Access addiction recovery support from home
-Dolores Cloward, SMART Recovery® Volunteer

CommunityIf you are looking for help with addiction recovery, whether it’s addiction to substances or addiction to behaviors, SMART Recovery Online is a wonderful place to start. Our program is science-based, incorporating scientific best practices in psychology. Here, you will find a supportive online community (message board forums, 24/7 chat and daily online meetings). We also offer practical tools to help you think your way through what you want for your life and how to go about achieving it. And, like other addiction recovery programs, SMART Recovery Online is free and accessible from home. It may be the only resource you need!

What is SMART Recovery?

Now in its third decade, SMART Recovery is a non-profit organization that offers tools for addiction recovery based on scientific research. In addition to over 1,600 local meetings world-wide, our website is home to an international recovery community Continue reading

Why “Practice Makes Perfect”

Posted on September 22, 2015

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!

Continue reading

When a Loved One is Addicted

Posted on September 17, 2015

How Family & Friends Can Help
Practical Recovery

Help AlcholicCan people get addicted to alcohol? Yes. But as a spouse, you can help your husband cut back on his drinking. In fact, the suggestions outlined below could be used to help anyone stop or cut back on…

ANY addictive behavior!

But to keep it simple, we will talk about how to help your husband stop drinking.

When will my husband stop drinking?

Generally, drinking stops when your husband realizes that the costs of drinking exceed the benefits. You could wait until the costs are very large, so that he can realize the problem more easily. However, by that point his thinking may not be very clear, and he (and you) will have paid a substantial price, possibly to include problems (such as health problems) that will endure. So it is better to stop drinking sooner rather than later.

How can I help my husband get sober?

In this approach you are looking to build the “landing place” before you ask him to “jump.” Many heavy drinkers are reluctant to quit drinking because Continue reading

USA and UOA: Unconditional Self-Acceptance and Unconditional Other Acceptance

Posted on September 8, 2015

by Jonathan von Breton, CCMHC

“The greatest sickness known to man or woman is called self-esteem. If you have self-esteem, then you’re sick, sick, sick, because you say: I’m okay because I do well and because people love me, so when I do poorly, which I’m a fallible human and will, and people hate me because they may jealously hate me or they just don’t like me, then back to shithood I go.”

Albert Ellis, Ph.D.

 wearenotThis is number 1 of the 3 basic “musts” that cause human disturbance:

 “I absolutely must perform well on important projects and be approved by significant people or else I am an inadequate and unlovable person!” (Leads to) Feelings of serious depression, anxiety, panic, self-downing. ..… Personally, you can’t always succeed not to mention succeed perfectly. Being a fallible human, you just can’t.”     Albert Ellis

Yes, rating one’s behavior as opposed to one’s self is much easier said than done. Yes, our society strongly encourages the opposite. In fact, our society has a vested interest in doing so. I still have a hard time with it myself and I’ve had years of practice.

In general, I find it helpful to rate my behaviors as:

Successful, they help me get what I want and avoid what I don’t want.
Unsuccessful, they fail to help me get what I want and avoid what I don’t want.

Effective or Ineffective. This is another way of saying successful/unsuccessful.

Consistent with my goals, values, ethics, beliefs.
Inconsistent, counter to, my goals, values, ethics, beliefs.

However, those are all behaviors. They aren’t my ‘self’ (whatever that is).  The behaviors can be measured and rated, at least to a certain degree. The self can’t even be defined, let alone rated. Continue reading