We all have triggers. It might be a situation or an emotion; a sight, sound or smell; a holiday or a time of day. Something that our brain learned over time to associate with our addictive behavior, and that it needs to unlearn as we start to break that connection. For me, it was cocktail receptions. They weren’t the only situation I associated with drinking – far from it – but they were one of the toughest. At the end of a long day at a conference, having watched what felt like 11,000 nearly-identical presentations in a row (and gulping down way too much coffee in order to stay alert) those clinking glasses and twinkling lights exerted a powerful pull. And the few times I ‘slipped’ after I quit (fortunately, one-drink slips) were at cocktail receptions. After the second time it happened, I knew I had to confront the situation…by avoiding it. Continue reading
[first posted December 31, 2013]
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I’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. Continue reading
1,500th SMART Recovery Meeting Opens as Fast Growth Rate Continues
The number of SMART Recovery meetings has reached the 1,500 milestone – less than three years after crossing the 1,000 mark – as more people embrace the program’s emphasis on becoming empowered to overcome addictions using science-based tools and peer support.
The 1,500th, a Friday evening weekly meeting, has opened at the Portland Recovery Community Center (PRCC) in Portland, Maine. Niki Curtis, the SMART trained facilitator for the meeting, explains:
“When I first arrived, we didn’t have many non-12 step meetings, so our Program Manager asked if I would be interested in SMART Recovery training. I am so glad that I said yes because since that training two years ago, I have utilized the program’s tools in my own life and shared them with others in meetings. For instance, I found that doing SMART’s Cost/Benefit Analysis helps me with decision-making. The ABC tool helps me deal with my anger around loud neighbors, and I am using SMART’s Urge Log tool to quit smoking. I have been working at the Center for two years. I love that we offer all types of meetings and that, like SMART, we respect all types of recovery. Continue reading
Those Spooky Old Woods (A True Story)
~Written by ‘fen’, SMART Recovery Volunteer
I have been playing in my woods for several weeks now. When I say playing, I mean I am clearing away years of neglect. My woods are seriously overgrown and difficult to walk through. There are scrub trees. There are trees that have been twisted by vines and are not healthy. There are brambles, small patches and great clumps of them as big around as a car and in some cases they stretch higher than I stand tall. There are vines everywhere, some as big around as my wrist.
When we built our house, over 12 years ago, I knew I needed to do something but I averted my eyes and found other, more pleasurable things to occupy my time. All the while those woods grew more and more tangled. On occasion I would look at them and say to myself that one day I would get around to taking care of them.
So I finally decided to do something. I gathered up my tools, such as they were, and entered the woods. Continue reading
How do you change from a team you’ve supported for a long while?
-HughK, SMART Recovery Facilitator
Imagine you are in a stadium FULL of people. The game is drawn and the outcome hangs in the balance.
One team gets the ball, heads towards their scoring end and the crowd, or half the crowd, starts to cheer!
They score! Half the stadium goes WILD! The other half groans! It is the same actual event that they both see – the emotion and depth of their reactions depends on which side they support, and how intensely emotional they feel about their team.
In addiction recovery I was attempting to change teams from the Addiction NAL (in the National Addiction League), to the Engaged NWL (in the National Wellness League). These two teams constantly played off in the Super Bowl of my life!
Some of my family and some of my friends couldn’t understand WHY I ever supported Addiction NAL. But I had my reasons: Continue reading
What is Mindfulness?
-Don Sheeley, MD, SMART Recovery Facilitator
I use the term “Mindfulness” to mean Active Self-Awareness.
We can be aware of our internal thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, and we can be aware of the interaction of ourselves with the external world (sight, sound, touch, taste, feel). We can be aware that we take in sights and sounds, etc. from the external world and process them and apply our internal thoughts and beliefs to them. Then we can become aware that there is someone who is aware of all that, and that guy is Me, the same me who was 12 years old, then 29, and now 62. (Yikes!) That’s it.
So we’re not really “aware of others.” We are aware that we hear what another says and then we are aware of what we think about that and how we feel about that, and maybe we are aware of how we process that.
Similarly, mindfulness is not necessarily placid, comfortable, or relaxed. Continue reading