June 10th, 2014
The Language of Recovery Advocacy
Guest Blogger: William White
Words are important. If you want to care for something, you call it a “flower”; if you want to kill something, you call it a “weed”. –Don Coyhis
Some will question why we as recovery advocates should invest valuable time debating the words used to convey alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems and their solutions when there are suffering individuals and families that need to be engaged, recovery support resources that need to be created, communities that need to be educated, and regressive, discriminatory policies that need to be changed. We must invest this time because achieving our broader goals depends on our ability to forge a recovery-oriented vocabulary.
Words have immense power to wound or heal. The wrong words shame people with AOD problems and drive them into the shadows of subterranean cultures. The wrong words, by conveying that people are not worthy of recovery and not capable of recovery, fuel self-destruction and prevent or postpone help-seeking. The right words serve as catalysts of personal transformation Read more »
June 3rd, 2014
by Margaret Speer, SMART Recovery meeting participant
I believe in self-empowerment and the power of choice. I successfully used these techniques to remain mindful and sober. I’ve improved my confidence, self-acceptance, and increased my independent positive decisions. I lived my life too long and blind to the power I hold within myself. Sobriety through self-empowerment was the hardest journey I have ever accomplished. I developed a healthier lifestyle within my daily routine and recovery goals. I know it is going to take my lifetime to maintain my recovery in addiction to alcohol while developing patience for my impulsive behaviors.
Since I was 15 years old, I have experienced complications with my involvement with alcohol. I was consistently battling, and failing with every attempt to stop my chemical use. Finally when I was 30 years old I woke up and removed my blinders – eyes wide open. Read more »
May 27th, 2014
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 Read more »
May 20th, 2014
The Compass Of Pleasure
by David J. Linden
Michael Werner, SMART Recovery® Volunteer Coordinator, Wilmington, NC
Dr. Linden is a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and has provided us with an authoritative science-based understanding of addictions: The Compass Of Pleasure.
In past years many models of the causes of addictions have been proffered, but it is only in the past few years that the neuroscience has had new tools to probe how the mind works in real time. We have greatly increased our knowledge of addictions from the study of the neurochemistry and neural pathways of the brain. The body of knowledge to support a bio-psycho-social model of addictions has been greatly supported by the new evidence.
Evolution has given us reward circuits to help us to survive and reproduce. Addictions subvert this normally helpful process and grow stronger over time, as the reward circuits in the brain are high-jacked. The Compass Of Pleasure explains this new complex understanding clearly, but without dumbing it down.
I highly recommend this book, in fact it is something I think is a “must read” for everyone in SMART interested in a scientific approach to addictions. It is the best book on the biology of addictions I have seen, with a balance of scientific thoroughness presented in a style that makes it accessible by anyone. It is clear, funny, evocative, intellectually stimulating, Read more »
May 13th, 2014
“How Science and Kindness Help People Change”
with Jeffrey Foote, Ph.D., Center for Motivation and Change
“[We want to] change the conversation, from the language of stigma to the language of growth; from defects to strengths, from shame to pride and an open heart; from punishment and confrontation to an invitation to truly change. And to change that conversation, we rely on science and kindness.”
May 17, 2014 4:00pm ET :
Jeffrey Foote, Ph.D., joins SMART Recovery to present:
Beyond Addiction, How Science and Kindness Help People Change:
- The Center for Motivation and Change’s (CMC) approach to helping families, including CRAFT;
- CMC’s best new tools for families wishing to support a loved one’s recovery;
- Beyond Addiction, by Jeffrey Foote, Ph.D., Carrie Wilkens, Ph.D., Nicole Kosanke, Ph.D., and Stephanie Higgs;
- The 20-Minute Guide – For Parents and Partners
The event will be held in our online Go-to-Training Room. There is no cost to attend the event but advanced registration is required.
Power of Positive Reinforcement
Help for Families
About the speaker: Dr. Foote is a nationally recognized clinical research scientist who has received extensive federal grant funding for his work on motivational treatment approaches. Dr. Foote has worked in the addiction treatment field as a clinician and researcher since the late 1980s, and has developed a unique motivational treatment approach that incorporates principles of group treatment as well as research-based principles of human behavior change.
In 2004, Dr. Foote opened the Center for Motivation and Change with his partner, Dr. Carrie Wilkens. CMC’s mission is to provide evidence-based treatments to help people change their substance use and compulsive behaviors while providing a warm and therapeutic atmosphere. CMC is built on the belief and optimism that people can change.
Previously, Dr. Foote was the Deputy Director of the Division of Alcohol Treatment and Research at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in NYC, as well as a Senior Research Associate at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) in NYC. Dr. Foote also served as Chief of the Smithers Addiction Treatment and Research Center as well as Director of Evaluation and Research between 1994 and 2001. Dr. Foote was also team Psychologist for the New York Mets. Read more »
May 6th, 2014
A note on “enabling” vs. positive reinforcement
~Jeffrey Foote, PsyD, Center for Motivation and Change
“Caring about and staying connected in a helping way with someone dealing
with substances is not only helpful, it’s one of the most powerful motivators for change.”
If you are a partner, parent, or child of someone struggling with substance problems, and you live in America, you’ve probably heard this word “enabling” (possibly many, many times). And you’ve probably heard this described as central to your interactions in helping your loved one. Mostly, you have heard “DON’T DO IT”!, and if you are like most concerned family members, you feel vaguely guilty for doing something you’re not even sure you are doing (but you must be, right?). By way of quick review, “enabling” actually means doing positive things that will end up supporting continued negative behavior, such as providing your child with money so they won’t “go hungry” during the day, knowing they use it to buy pot, or going to talk to the teacher to make sure they don’t get a bad grade, even though their bad test score was due to drinking, or calling your husband’s work to explain he’s sick today, when he’s actually hung over. These are examples of doing something “nice” for your loved one that actually (from a behavioral reinforcement standpoint) might increase the frequency of the negative behavior, not decrease it. The logic: if they act badly, and nothing happens, or something good happens, this behavior is encouraged, even if what you are doing is “nice”. This IS enabling, and this is not helpful in changing behavior in a positive direction.
But everything nice is not enabling! And that’s the quicksand we have developed in our culture. Staying connected, rewarding positive behaviors with positivity, being caring and loving; these things are critical to positive change. So what’s the difference? Read more »
April 29th, 2014
Thoughts On Hope That We Can Change Our Thinking And Change Our Lives
by Mike MT Massey, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator
I was doing some research on addiction and behavior and I was thinking about us, about myself, about what we often feel in our depths of despair in addiction, and about some of the processes we use in SMART to help ourselves. I like SMART, it works well for me. We use techniques and statements to get us to realize that the three major upsets are ourselves, others, and life events, and that we let or make ourselves feel upset about these things. And we use tools in SMART that can help us believe we don’t have to be upset about many of these things.
And we say “change our thinking, change our life”. We say our beliefs can cause us harm, or our beliefs can lead us to positive outcomes.
This is all true, but it’s not always easy to grasp that our beliefs and subsequent actions are hurting us. Read more »
April 22nd, 2014
“I’m From” by Questor7, SMART Recovery Online Volunteer
Listen to the audio version
I’m from the 60s, from my old lady and my old man, from flower children, groovy, and “far out, man;”
I’m from “you dig”, “coming down”, “I’m hip”, and meanwhile back at the ranch I’m from uppers and downers, and tripping and booze. I’m from free love, pedal pushers, pig out and right-on;
I’m from James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Sting, I’m from we all live in a yellow submarine;
I’m from staying up too late, getting up too late, running away, and screwing and getting stoned;
I’m from hating my job, fear of flying, crazy landlords and cheating and lies;
I’m from who cares, Read more »
April 15th, 2014
Ted Alston, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator
Recovery groups tend to recite quips. For instance, “It’s easy to quit. I’ve done it lots of times.” Mark Twain may have said this of smoking, but the occasion is obscure1,2. Whether or not that one is his, Twain (1835-1910) was a keen observer of humanity. Accordingly, he had much to say about addictive behavior and recovery. Though literary fiction cannot settle controversies, it can help us to think about them. Consider The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).
In an early scene3, young Tom shows that the consequences of an event depend on one’s beliefs about it. He is stuck with the odious task of having to whitewash a long fence. Other kids mock his plight. Tom pretends that he relishes the chore and does not want to share it. The mockers are then happy to pay Tom for their privilege of whitewashing his fence. “If he hadn’t run out of whitewash, he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.”
You can argue that the episode is not strictly an example of a SMART exercise. Tom manipulated others more than he improved himself. That aspect is part of the delicious humor. Furthermore, it would have been hard to convince Sawyer or Twain that they were powerless over the beliefs of others. Read more »
April 8th, 2014
April 12, 2014, 12:00 noon (edt)
Dr. Michael R. Edelstein, author of Three Minute Therapy will present “How to Overcome Addictions in One Lesson” on Saturday, April 12 2014 at 12:00 noon edt.
This webinar is designed to be helpful for any harmful behavior – drugs, gambling, eating disorders, smoking, self-harm — substance-related or not. Bring your questions! We think you’ll find, as one book reviewer noted, that: “Michael Edelstein cuts through the psychological jargon and makes clear how all of us can effect powerful changes in our psyches, in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones.”
Advance registration is required for this event. Please visit www.smartrecovery.org/events.
Dr. Michael R. Edelstein is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 30 years experience and has a private practice in San Francisco, offering in-person as well as telephone/Skype sessions. He is famous as the author of Three Minute Therapy: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, with David Ramsay Steele, a self-help book for overcoming common emotional and behavioral problems. Most recently, he published Stage Fright, with Mick Berry, Therapy Breakthrough: Why Some Psychotherapies Work Better Than Others, with Richard Kujoth and David Ramsay Steele, and Rational Drinking: How to Live Happily With or Without Alcohol, with Will Ross. He is a long-standing SMART Recovery Volunteer. Read more »