Why Abstinence?

Ten Good Mental Health Reasons Not to Drink Alcohol

Consuming alcohol may make matters more difficult for people suffering from mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and impulse control disorders. Even having a couple of drinks a day carries consequences that affect brain and body functioning, leaving a negative impact on mental well-being. Sometimes, people feeling high amounts of stress, pain, anxiety, and impulse turn to alcohol to find short-term relief, without realizing that using substances can limit the progress of reaching long-term emotional stability. Alcohol may cause moodiness, lower inhibitions, upset the cycle of restorative sleep, increase the symptoms of depression, and interfere with prescribed medication. Avoiding alcohol completely may be a good idea if you have concerns with anxiety, depression, and impulse control.

10 Reasons Not to Drink

Source: Graphic designed by Dr. Jesse Viner, MD, executive medical director of the Yellowbrick Treatment Center for young adults.

Discover the Power of Choice! Your behavior is your responsibility and you have the freedom to choose. For even more reasons to consider abstinence as a goal and why experts often recommend it, visit the SMART Recovery website.

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5,000 Twitter Followers!!!

5000 Twitter Followers
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Goal: Lifestyle Balance

A fulfilling life is the ultimate goal of addiction recovery

“SMART’s purpose is to help individuals gain independence from
addictive behavior, and in so doing, recover (or develop) a fulfilling life.”

Lifestyle BalanceAs we gain independence from addictive behavior, or help others to do so, we need to remember that there is a greater goal: to live a good life. Recovery from addictive behavior sets the stage for the recovery of satisfactions and pleasures that were not possible while still engaged in addictive behavior.

The fourth point of the SMART® 4-Point Program® concerns lifestyle balance: “to balance momentary and enduring satisfactions.” Read more »

Three and a Half Years!

Personal Success
“Gentoo” – SMART Recovery Online Meeting Facilitator

“I got myself into this, and I wanted concrete, practical, science-based,
proven information about how I could get myself out – and for good.”

Gentoo PenguinI just celebrated 3.5 years as a non-drinker with SMART Recovery peer support, particularly SMART Recovery Online.

I drank heavily for decades. I developed a physical addiction to alcohol, where if I didn’t drink for an hour or two, I got shakes, sweats, anxiety. Then, drinking almost took my life. I had a serious fall when drinking, and it resulted in a traumatic brain injury. In ICU I was given a 50-50 chance to live. This caused pain to my husband and family. Thankfully, I made it. But I had to learn to walk again. And I had destroyed my career.

I attended an outpatient treatment center for alcohol and drugs where we were expected to attend one “outside” recovery meeting per week. We were given the choice of attending 12-step or SMART Recovery. And that’s how I learned about SMART.

I didn’t want to go to AA Read more »

Shattering Myths Surrounding Teen Drug Use

National Drug Facts Week, January 27 – February 2, 2014

NIDA's National Drug Facts Week
By joining forces and bringing young adults and scientific experts together with a common goal, National Drug Facts Week aims to shatter the myths that surround teen drug use and underage drinking, and provides an invaluable opportunity for youth to find out the true facts.  The week will start with the seventh annual National Drug Facts Chat Day on January 28, 2014 to provide opportunities for teens  across the country to engage in meaningful conversation and receive honest and factual answers to their questions.  

About a third of high school seniors report using an illicit drug sometime in the past year; more than ten percent report nonmedical use of potentially addictive prescription painkillers; and more than twenty percent report smoking marijuana in the past month. Many teens are not aware of the risks to their health, to their success in school and the dangers while driving under the influence. When teens are given the scientific facts about drugs, they can be better prepared to make good decisions for themselves and they can share this information with others.

Balanced and evidence-based approaches are a key to reducing drug use in teens.  This free NIDA program, encourages science-based information sharing and empowers teens to “discover the power of choice.“  The online resources for National Drug Facts Week include multiple tools and innovative opportunities for young adults, and also parents, educators, and the community at large. Read more »

“Powerless No Longer”

Powerless No Longer, by Pete Soderman
Reviewed by Bill Abbott, SMART Recovery Facilitator

Powerless No LongerPete Soderman, a SMART facilitator now living in Mexico, has written an excellent book that is of considerable interest to us all. The topic of recovery is a crowded field, but this book is a story of SMART Recovery, pure and simple.

Pete writes with an easy style that makes it very readable. He has personal experience with recovery. Although he started in a 12-step program, he later found SMART, became enthusiastic, then became a facilitator, first in North Carolina and, after retirement, in a small town in Mexico.

His book starts with an autobiography, then proceeds to a nice discussion of recovery, including natural recovery — doing it on your own without help. Following that is a discussion of some of the science involved.

He writes in detail about how SMART works and how to use the tools in a series of chapters, each devoted to SMART’s 4-Point Program® and the Stages of Change.

This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the SMART Recovery program, even for those who don’t need it personally. I recommend it for newcomers to SMART as a supplement to the SMART Handbook, but it was even of considerable interest and enjoyment to me, a virtual old timer!

About the Reviewer: Bill Abbott is an active volunteer with SMART Recovery. He facilitates both face-to-face and online recovery meetings, in addition to facilitating SMART meetings for Family & Friends.

About “Powerless No Longer,”: This book is available from Amazon.com in both printed and electronic formats, and will soon be available as an audiobook. Read more »

Support for Family & Friends

Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening
Reviewed by Henry Steinberger, Ph.D.

Get Your Loved One SoberTo help people seeking sobriety for their loved ones, Get Your Loved One Sober offers a revolutionary program: The Community Reinforcement And Family Training (CRAFT) intervention. The subtitle, Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening more aptly describes what this book is about. Getting a loved one into treatment is not the first goal. Arranging for one’s own safety and finding a happier life independent of the drinker’s situation, takes priority. Getting a loved one to moderate, choose sobriety, or go into treatment, are offered as roads to a better relationship.

Still, CRAFT can boast phenomenal success getting people into treatment. An alternative to Al-Anon’s 12-Step tradition and “detachment” recommendations and the Johnson Institute’s confrontational interventions, the CRAFT program is based on non-confrontational behavioral principles like reinforcement. It gives the reader tools and instructions for changing their interactions with their loved ones, which in turn changes the loved one’s behavior. In repeated clinical trials, CRAFT proved twice as likely as the Johnson Intervention and six times as likely as Al-Anon to get loved ones into treatment.

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A Not So Perfect High

Playing the tape to the end
Listen to the audio version

Questor7I’m walking down the same street I’ve walked down hundreds of times before. Nothing’s changed. It’s the same street. Same stores. Same liquor store, one that has never interested me before because it’s filled with things I can’t have, or rather, let’s say, things I choose not to have. But something is different this time. This time, I really notice the liquor store. This time, I hear a scotch bottle whispering my name.

Well, then, “beam me up, Scotty.”

I see myself walking into the store, picking up a couple of bottles of scotch and two bottles of wine, paying for them and walking back out onto the street. I have been feeling kind of down lately, maybe bored, frustrated, but nothing new has happened that has thrown my life into a tailspin. I’ve just suddenly fallen into a trance and decided to get drunk.

I go home and take out my favorite scotch glass and fill it to the brim. I make a toast to the ether and take a small taste. Read more »

Spend the Holidays with SMART Online

SMART Holiday CelebrationsSMART Recovery Online (SROL) and our UK online community will both be hosting safe and fun-filled meetings and holiday activities during the last week of December.

Christmas and New Year’s can be challenging times for people in recovery; 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.


Beginning at 5am ET (4am CT, 3am MT, & 2am PT) the SMART Recovery UK website will be hosting a fun-filled day including a Christmas quiz, open mic, music, poetry, and more! Registration on the UK site is required in order to participate in the UK activities.

Beginning at 12 noon ET, US online facilitators will be providing meetings every hour on the hour (ending at 10pm ET). Read more »

Oxygen Mask Rule

An addiction recovery metaphor

Recovery FIRST!
My sister is really getting on my last nerve! Do I really have to to go to this party?! My Mother-in-law is visiting for a week!? Really?!

Ever hear of the Oxygen Mask Rule?

Every time we fly, we hear flight attendants sharing some variation of the Oxygen Mask Rule:

    “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.

Why put on our mask first? What could possibly be wrong with helping others first?

In the case of the airplane, oxygen masks are deployed in situations where the oxygen level has dropped dangerously low. Without our oxygen mask, we will quickly lose consciousness. Each of us is responsible for our own oxygen. If we don’t make putting on our mask our first priority, we are at serious risk of not being able to breathe at all.

So what does this have to do with addiction recovery? Read more »

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