Tag Archives: lifestyle balance

Moving on from SMART after 23+ Amazing Years!

Posted on December 12, 2017

by Shari Allwood, SMART Recovery Executive Director

Much like how long-time volunteers feel when they graduate and move on from SMART, my need to leave the employment of SMART elicits immense sadness and full acceptance as I realize the need to tackle recent challenges in my life.

I have lived and breathed SMART for the past 23 years of my life — and happily so! It’s been amazing to have been a part of this vibrant and growing organization over the past two decades. The benefit of witnessing daily changed lives is a perk that few jobs offer, and one that I will never forget.

At the same time, I have had two major changes to my life in the past eight months. After my Dad passed away a year ago, my Mom, who will soon be 85, moved in with my husband and me in March. She’s suffering from dementia and requiring more of my time as her health seems to be deteriorating. Also, in August, I was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer.

These events brought me to the realization that I need to begin to work on Point 4 of SMART’s incredible 4-Point Program – lifestyle balance – for the sake of my Mom’s and my own health.

If I were to begin to name the people at SMART who have touched my life over the past 23 years, this article in the blog would expand to hundreds of pages. SMART enjoys an incredible cadre of volunteers in our face-to-face and online venues, not to mention my amazing colleagues in Australia, the UK, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, China, Canada, etc. It’s been such an honor to work for and alongside so many gifted individuals

In 2017, we have accomplished so very much:

  •  A new Strategic Plan to help guide SMART in the five-years ahead.
  •  A new website.
  •  A new and improved tiered training structure.
  •  Our first financial audit.
  •  Achievement of GuideStar Platinum status, which will help us raise more funds.
  •  An IT audit resulting in new/improved IT support and processes.
  •  Creation of a Governance Committee to ensure best practices.
  •  Undertaking the formation of the SMART Recovery International organization.
  •  2,500 meetings worldwide – a milestone that seemed unfathomable as recently as 10 years ago.
  •  More research and more important organizations recognizing SMART.

And the list goes on and on. I’m so proud to have been a part of these recent activities, and I look forward to watching (from afar) the accomplishments and growth that will continue.

One last thing … I can’t fail to note my sincere thanks to one special individual — Joe Gerstein. Joe’s guidance over the past 23 years has been immense to me personally and to the organization. His ongoing generous gifts of his time and funds have enabled SMART to achieve the gains and to attain the status we enjoy today.

Thank you SMART for the honor and privilege of serving you for 23 years! Continue reading

Celebrate the Holidays Safely, Comfortably, Joyously

Posted on November 21, 2017

Celebrating the Holidays with Recovering Family Members and Friends
Peter Gaumond, Chief, ONDCP Recovery Branch

Holidays in RecoveryThis time each year can be stressful for anyone, but the holidays present a special challenge for people recovering from a substance use disorder. Those in long-term recovery typically are adept at navigating the minefield of temptation at holiday social gatherings. But many of those in their first year of recovery, their friends, and family members wonder how best to celebrate the holidays safely, comfortably, and joyously.

If your festivities will include someone with a year or more in recovery, you may simply want to ask if there is anything you can do to make the holiday better for them. They may want to bring a friend who’s also in recovery. They may have beverage preferences or want the flexibility to step out for a short while, either to attend a mutual aid meeting (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or SMART Recovery), make a call, or Continue reading

How to improve your sleep while in addiction recovery

Posted on November 14, 2017

Sleep disorders are a common struggle in recovery from addiction

Guest blogger, Alisa, Nestmaven.com

According to a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the incidence of insomnia is five times higher in early recovery than in the general population. Insomnia is not the only sleep disorder associated with addiction; contribute to the development of circadian rhythm disorders, parasomnias and sleep apnea.

The relationship between sleep and addiction goes both ways: while the mechanisms of addiction and withdrawal cause sleep disorders, the resulting sleep deprivation can inhibit the recovery process. The consequences of sleep deprivation include low mood, impulsivity, and poor emotional regulation which increase the likelihood of relapse.

The SMART Recovery approach can be used to identify areas in your life where you are lacking balance. If you are experiencing sleep issues while recovering from an addiction, making changes in your lifestyle and environment can dramatically improve your symptoms.

Light Exposure

Light is the most powerful cue for our circadian rhythms which are responsible for guiding the sleep-wake schedule.

Timing light exposure for the correct times of day, while avoiding unnecessary light sources as bedtime approaches. Basking in light — especially sunlight — first thing after waking up can help combat sleep inertia; while dimming house lights in the evening signals that it’s time to start winding down for sleep.

Blue light is emitted by electronic device screens (including computers, laptops and smartphones) and is responsible for blocking the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. These devices should be avoided at night, and, when their use is necessary, nightmode should be activated.

Light Therapy is used to treat circadian rhythm disorders and insomnia, the two disorders with the highest incidence in recovery. Light therapy is also a useful tool in treating the depression which frequently occurs alongside drug addiction.

Diet

Diet, while an important part of any healthy lifestyle, lends additional benefits to those struggling with sleep disorders.

Foods that inhibit sleep include those high in sugar and refined fats, as well as spicy foods and chocolate depending on its caffeine content. People suffering from sleep disorders should avoid these foods, particularly after midday.

Foods that promote sleep do so by either inducing drowsiness or through inducing muscle relaxation to relieve discomfort. Experts recommend natural sources of magnesium, potassium and B vitamins such as legumes and leafy green vegetables. Dairy products and animal proteins contain tryptophan — a precursor to the neurochemicals serotonin and melatonin which are essential to sleep.

Continue reading

7 Safe Alternatives to Opiates for Those in Recovery

Posted on May 9, 2017

By Gordon Dickler- CAC, ICADC

Opiate painkillers are by far the most prescribed medications in the United States today. According to the recent U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, over 289 million prescriptions are written each year for analgesic pain relievers. And this is just the beginning. Recent studies show that despite making up only five percent of the world’s population, the United States now consumes about 80 percent of the world’s opioid pain medication.

The opiate epidemic is clear, especially as prescription drug addictions continue to lead users into heroin abuse and fatal overdoses. Fortunately, however, more and more people have begun to recognize the dangers associated with prescription drugs. Many, including those in recovery, are now actively looking for alternative pain relieving methods – methods that do not involve highly addictive drugs.

While opiates are undoubtedly effective at relieving pain, these drugs can also stir severe consequences when used repeatedly. A physical addiction, for example, can develop within just four weeks of prescription painkiller use. A psychological dependence to opiates, on the other hand, can develop in as little as two days. And this is just the beginning. Repeated opiate use can lead to chronic respiratory issues, depression, as well as damage to the immune system.

If you are working towards recovery, have addictive tendencies, or simply desire safer pain treatments, know that there are alternatives available that will not disrupt your balanced, substance-free life. Continue reading

The importance of “choice” in recovery

Posted on April 25, 2017

New video from Choice in Recovery, showcasing the many options now available

Click to watch:

From Choice in Recovery’s new website:

Choice in Recovery is an organization that unites the many pathways to recovery in order to educate professionals in the field, and the public, about the existing options; empowering people to CHOOSE the recovery pathway that works for them.

What we’ve found is that many professionals do not know about the many pathways to recovery AND that Choice effectively fills this gap in knowledge.

We are now hosting events in Colorado for professionals in the field.  Educating counselors, therapists, probation officers, and students about the many pathways to recovery; empowering professionals, and those entering the field, to run a client-centered practice.

We are honored to be a part of this project and are grateful to Paul and Spencer, volunteer meeting facilitators,  who represented SMART so well in the video.

 

Irina Bogonolova, Choice’s Founder and CEO, and everyone involved have created a wonderful public service resource with this video.  We applaud their efforts and look forward to seeing their ongoing impact on the recovery community. Continue reading

The Four Most Important Things I’ve Learned in Recovery

Posted on February 22, 2017

Guest blog post by Lisa Hann, author of How to Have Fun in Recovery

Every day we’re given countless opportunities to learn. We may not always “get it,” but over time we amass a set of values and skills that guides us through our lives. We go through different stages where we’re met with different challenges in which we get to “practice” the things we’ve learned and to learn even more. Addiction and recovery are stages that offer some of the richest experiences and learning opportunities. Today I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned in recovery.

The first thing I learned is what I’ve already mentioned – that we’re always given opportunities to learn. When you see people making the same mistakes, it’s because they haven’t learned anything from their experiences. I want to improve myself every chance I get, so I actively look for the lesson in every situation. When something bad happens, I ask, “What can I learn so that this doesn’t happen again?” When something good happens, I ask, “What can I learn so that this keeps happening?” The answers aren’t always obvious, but they’re there. Continue reading