Tag Archives: relapse prevention

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.

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Book Review: Alex Korb’s The Upward Spiral

Posted on November 7, 2017

Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2015, 225 pp.

Review by Ted Alston, facilitator

Bad feelings and bad habits fly together, and evasive maneuvers for one may serve for both. Accordingly, students of SMART Recovery may enjoy this book that addresses depression. Alex Korb, PhD, is an expert on neurotransmission, but he presents a model permitting self-management and and self-empowerment to have roles in mental health. In this model. a prescriber might help someone with a medication molecule that modulates neurotransmission, but readers have the power to choose other reasonable tactics that are non-pharmacological but have neurotransmission aspects.

Korb puts forth the important and attractive concept that neuroscience does not doom anyone to depression or addiction, nor to various other conditions with labels. He emphasizes that we all have pretty much the same instrument of thought and behavior. Whatever genetic or experiential differences may be, the troubled brain is usually out of tune rather than defective. Korb has a gift for analogy, and I do not want to spoil the encounters of his readers with those gems, but I will mention one. I liked when he said, “There’s nothing wrong with your brain, just like there’s nothing wrong with the air in Oklahoma–despite the devastating tornados.” This excerpted quote might seem inscrutable, but Korb’s full argument is easy to follow.

Korb offers much advice that is in line with the philosophies of SMART tools. For instance, a section of Chapter 2 is subtitled “The ABCs of Anxiety.” The Korb ABC is different from that of Albert Ellis, but it rhymes. One could delete all of the neuroscience from the Korb book and be left with a practical and reasonable pamphlet collating many SMART concepts. However, Korb offers a lot more than that. His every point includes a rationale based on what is known about neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. The book is intended for a broad audience, so the science depth is limited. However, the work is a superb introduction to neuroscience. Even a professional neuroscientist might appreciate the book for Korb’s power of explication. Continue reading

The REBT Opp, a Useful Abbreviation

Posted on October 24, 2017

Author: Ted, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator

Bringing SMART Recovery into state prisons has rewards but also poses bureaucratic challenges. Difficulties in regularly covering a Tuesday afternoon meeting in Massachusetts prompted the recruitment of a third volunteer facilitator. With obstacles, the new volunteer was able to schedule an in-person orientation class that was required but was officially offered at erratic and infrequent intervals. This volunteer traveled many miles to show up for a SMART meeting a week later. He got to the door and was denied admission because he was not yet “in the computer.” (Of course, the delinquent cyber entry happened a few hours later, after the group meeting.)

When the new volunteer was denied entry after his paperwork, classwork, and travel, the three of us looked briefly at each other. All that was said was, “Well, an REBT opportunity.”

With practice, it is often effective to quickly recognize that many potential frustrations are “just REBT opps.”

The phrase said a lot. It seemed to say it all. As SMART facilitators, we had absorbed the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) concepts Continue reading

A Portable Lapse Prevention Plan

Posted on August 29, 2017

Randy Lindel, Facilitator, SMART Recovery Boston

A “lapse” or a “slip” is a brief reengagement with your addictive behavior. Usually, you feel bad about it right afterwards, but weren’t able to successfully avoid it.

Many lapses are triggered by unforeseen events. Some pressure just occurs out of the blue. It’s an important reminder that you can’t control everything – what other people say or do or what happens that you didn’t expect. Strong emotions can result quickly and produce powerful urges.

But, there IS something you can do. And that’s to have a plan for the unexpected.

In SMART Recovery, we have many strategies to use when you know you’re going to be in a social situation. You “play the tape forward,” thinking through the event and develop your plan to deal with what you’re expecting to happen. After being in a few different situations, you refine your plan to a point that it starts to become automatic.

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How To Dispute Difficult Thoughts

Posted on June 6, 2017

by Kimberly Winters, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator

Do you sometimes experience difficult thoughts and emotions…the kind that lead to unwanted behaviors?

Emotional upsets can wreak havoc with addiction recovery. SMART Recovery offers tools for disputing difficult thoughts, by examining those thoughts to see if they are true, helpful, hopeful, flexible and nurturing!

Did you know that having a tangible object for each of those questions can be helpful?  Below are some suggestions for items to help with that!

 All of these items can be found around the house, outdoors or at the craft store!

  1. Is this thought TRUE? Find a nice smooth and heavy rock and write TRUE? on it with a black sharpie.  Put that rock in your hand and hold onto it while you help your thought pass through the truth test.
  1. Is this thought HELPING me?  Find something with a smiley on it like a small yellow ball with a smiley face on it or a sticker or even a little kid toy that looks friendly.

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Celebrate Your Victories, No Matter How Small

Posted on May 30, 2017

The Value of Celebrating Victories
~Green-In-MI, SMART Recovery Volunteer

Celebrate Victories

In my experience, progress toward a lifestyle of abstinence at times seems insurmountable; like you’re standing at the bottom of a mountain craning your neck to see a peak that looks impossibly high up and far away. Any given day may be a struggle against urges, old habits, and other potential problems. You look at people who have a month of abstinence and think “that’s a long time…I can barely go a few days”. You look at others who may have a year or more of abstinence and think “that’s so long, I’ll never get there.”

But you keep coming back. Addiction recovery takes work. You keep learning. You keep talking to others. You keep working on the tools. Next thing you know, your work begins to pay off. You have a week, or maybe a month. Maybe you successfully navigate a situation that caused problems in the past.

You come back to a SMART meeting or to chat and report your success, and suddenly a half dozen people congratulate you for your ‘victory’. You’ve successfully climbed part of the way up that impossible mountain. As you top each little rise on the way to the summit Continue reading