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

Are You Leaving? Or Are You Going?

Posted on January 6, 2015

Making Something Important
by Hank Robb, Ph.D., ABPP

A person was walking down a street and saw two women sitting with wool yarn and knitting needles. Curious, our observer asked, “What are you doing?”

The first said, “I’m making one stitch after another.”

The second answered, “I’m keeping my child safe and warm from the winter wind.”

Which of these two would you rather be?

Building and maintaining motivation is the first point in SMART Recovery’s 4-Point Program®. Changing your behavior isn’t very likely to happen unless there’s a point to doing so which is the last point in SMART Recovery: building a balanced life. “Giving up something” isn’t much to build a life around. It’s just one stitch after another. As the psychologist Ogden Lindsey once noted, no goal a dead person can accomplish is that great a goal for a living one. Dead people never drink, snort, shoot up or place a bet. “Not doing” is something all dead people “do” quite well. 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

Spend the Holidays with SMART Recovery Online

Posted on December 23, 2014

SMART Holiday CelebrationsWinter holidays can be challenging times for people in recovery; support services are closed, family pressures pile up and for many, the holidays can be pretty lonely. Whether to celebrate with others working on recovery or to get some support during a particularly challenging day, remember that the SMART Recovery USA and SMART Recovery UK online communities are available, 24/7.

Christmas Day Open House (Hosted by SMART UK)

Beginning at 5am USA ET (9pm AUS Canberra) the SMART Recovery UK website will be hosting a fun-filled day including a Christmas music, poetry, meetings, and more! The last event is scheduled to end at 7pm USA ET (11 am AUS on 12/26). All are welcome, including those who have a loved one with an addictive behavior.

Registration on the UK site is not required, 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