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 Continue reading
by Windy Dryden, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology, Goldsmiths College
I have worked as a counseling psychologist for over ten years. One of the most common problems that people consult me on is anxiety when the source of that anxiety is unclear to them. When people are anxious about specific things in the world, like dogs, spiders or other people’s negative reactions, then at least the person knows what he or she is anxious about. However, a lot of people are anxious about being anxious and this is so common and yet so frequently misunderstood that such lack of knowledge leads to more anxiety.
Anxiety about anxiety occurs when you first experience a fearful reaction, say, while shopping, riding in a lift, driving in a car or even in your home. Having experienced this anxiety (problem 1) you begin to become anxious in case you get anxious again (problem 2). This double-barreled situation is the breeding ground for the development of your vicious circle of anxiety from which you find it so difficult to escape. Understanding this process is the first step to solving the problem.
Let me explain this vicious circle in greater detail. Once you have experienced anxiety “for no good reason,” you then bring an anxious attitude to the prospect of getting anxious. You think something like “Wouldn’t it be terrible if I got anxious.” Thinking in this way actually leads to anxiety. You then notice your anxiety and think something like “Oh my god, I’m getting anxious.” This leads to increased anxiety which triggers a further thought like “Oh my god, I’m losing control. What if I faint (or panic, have a heart attack or act crazily); wouldn’t that be terrible!” Anxiety is again heightened which leads to more anxious “thinking” and so on. Now this pattern occurs incredibly quickly and you probably are only aware of a building sense of panic. In addition, you may be one of a large number of people who “overbreathe” when you get anxious. This means that you take in too much oxygen and feel, paradoxically, that you need to breath in more air, whereas you actually need less. “Overbreathing” leads to such sensations as tingling, faintness, giddiness and heart palpitations. Without knowing this, you may consider that these sensations are evidence that there really is something wrong with you and “that would be awful.” This though leads to more anxiety and the vicious circle continues.
By Judith Poole, Facilitator and Regional Coordinator, British Columbia, Canada
When I learned my son was addicted to opiates about five years ago, I felt completely helpless. I just wasn’t equipped to handle the situation or give my son the level of support he needed. Without tools or answers, I was so stressed in those early stages of his addiction that I ended up having a heart attack. Other support groups hadn’t worked for me. Like a lot of people, I looked for options on the Internet, and that’s where I discovered SMART Recovery.
SMART Recovery’s message resonated with me. It was exactly what I needed. At first, I took the facilitator training course for myself and my son. It gave me the tools I needed. I learned the skills to handle the stress of addiction and other problems, too. Thankfully, my son is fairly far along in the recovery process now. Yet soon after I completed the training and began attending meetings, I realized I was hardly alone…and there was absolutely nothing else out there for people like us.
“I passionately wanted to give all I’ve learned to others and help SMART Recovery continue expanding and reaching more and more people.”
I’ve always been a big believer in volunteer work. A believer and a doer. But this was different. The cards were on the table in the most personal way possible, my son’s very life and mine were in jeopardy. SMART Recovery worked for us. I passionately wanted to give all I’ve learned to others and help SMART Recovery continue expanding and reaching more and more people. And I’ve been doing just that ever since.
To imagine a world without SMART Recovery, I have to think of the eleven people who regularly attend our local meeting. Eleven family members and friends, with no doubt more families and friends to come. It’s an ever-widening circle. What’s left in a world without SMART Recovery? A crumbling puzzle Continue reading
By Randy Lindel, Facilitator, SMART Recovery® Boston
Read on for five (5) practical ideas on how to cope with urges and cravings after you have decided to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
Cravings are normal
Everyone who’s engaged in addictive behavior will experience uncomfortable cravings (“I want it badly”) and urges (“I have to do it now”). They are normal. And fortunately, they always pass with time. At the outset of recovery, they can be pretty intense, but each one will subside if you can wait it out and have a plan for relapse prevention. Cravings and urges will decrease in strength and frequency over time. You can make this happen by adopting some coping strategies that work best for you.
Learning to resist cravings
For many people, urges and cravings to use drugs or alcohol trigger automatic responses. They are without conscious thought: I want [fill in the blank]. = I get it. Learning to say NO to these intense, ingrained desires is one of the biggest challenges in recovery. The good news is that you can understand these desires and learn to resist them. Continue reading
Saturday, January 14th, 2017. 5:00PM EST
Presented by Dr. Reid Hester
SMART Recovery will host Reid K. Hester, Ph.D., for an overview and discussion of recent scientific findings on addiction treatment and support. There are valuable lessons to be learned and new strategies resulting from research that have real implications for people struggling with their use of alcohol, drugs and behaviors.
The event will be enjoyed by individuals struggling with addictive behaviors, as well as the professionals and families who want to help a loved one.
Dr. Hester is the Director of Research at Checkup & Choices and creator of SMART’s CheckUp & Choices companion web course (formerly called Overcoming Addictions). His professional career has included clinical work, program consultation, research, and training in empirically supported approaches to substance abuse treatment.
Currently, Dr. Hester is directing an implementation research grant Continue reading
Addiction recovery during the Holidays
by Richard Song
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