The concept of powerlessness was perplexing as I contemplated life without alcohol. I was in the awful back and forth of failed attempts, beginning each morning with a vow that “this would be the day” and deciding firmly in late afternoon that due to circumstances x, y or z, it was essential to continue drinking.
The online evaluations I frequented assured me that my drinking pattern was problematic, yet the only solution I knew of seemed to disqualify me with it’s first “step” of declaring powerlessness. I felt there was still a glimmer of empowerment in the decision I made each day, even though it was a decision to drink. Continue reading →
I recently heard an interview with a man who’d quit drinking four years earlier after decades of heavy drinking. “So basically I’m now an emotional 17-year-old, since I started drinking when I was 13.” This feeling of emotional immaturity rings true for many people who have given up addictions. When I quit drinking, I didn’t feel like an adolescent—I’d been successful in many areas of my life even while knocking back too much wine—but neither did I feel quite like a grown-up no matter what my birth certificate or my mirror claimed. 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 →
The focus will be on how using simple evidence-based tools from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that can help anyone, not just those struggling with addiction. SMART focuses its application of these tools on addictive behavior, specifically, but we can use those same tools to help us learn to better cope with underlying issues – stress, worry, anger, anxiety – and free us to create and enjoy the lives we want. Continue reading →
“Look beyond the walls of therapy, towards independence and empowerment.” —Stanton Peele
In Recover!, Ilse Thompson and I liken your addiction to the noise of the surf that you dive under in the ocean. You then come up fresh on the other side of the wave. That image is an example of a mindfulness exercise or meditation through which you translate your thinking into a concrete image that you can identify with your addiction and manipulate mindfully.
Mindfulness means slightly different things in psychology (à la Ellen Langer) and Buddhism (à la Tara Brach). In Langer’s formulation, mindfulness is the awareness of what impels you to behave as you do, emotionally and situationally. In Buddhism, mindfulness is the acute awareness of your presence in the world, the here-and-now. Langer’s mindfulness allows you to control your environment and yourself; Buddhism’s to experience the world directly and instantly.
The first formulation allows you to feel your agency—that you are directing your life in place of being driven habitually and emotionally. The second allows you to be at peace with yourself—the notion of radical acceptance.
And both types of mindfulness are tools with which to attack addiction. Each of them shows you Continue reading →
People observe their behavior, and evaluate it in terms of how well they like it. If we did not do this, we would have no way of improving how we act. When people seek help in therapy, in self-help groups, or by reading self-help books, they are not merely observing and thinking of their behaviors and deciding how to make adjustments. Typically, their thinking interferes with their ability to adjust and often they’re mainly aware of their misery.
REBT attempts to show you that (1) events do not automatically create your thoughts, (2) events do not cause your emotions, and (3) by changing your thinking, you will see things differently, and then your thoughts and emotions will aid you instead of interfering with your actions.
Let’s say you failed at something important to you. Compare the following two sets of thoughts regarding how they make you feel, how truthful they are, and how well they help you adjust.
1. I failed and that’s bad. Maybe I didn’t pay close enough attention to what was going on to prevent my failure. I regret that.
2. I should not have failed. It’s awful to fail as I did. Because I did fail, I’m a loser; I can’t stand myself.