Is Relapse Inevitable in Addiction Recovery?
Julie Myers, Psy.D.
For many with serious substance abuse problems, any drug or alcohol use can be problematic. These people must abstain. If they drink or drug again, they can slip into full-blown relapse, even after months or years of abstinence. For some, even a brief lapse may generate so much self-doubt, guilt, and a belief about personal failure, that the person gives up and continues to use. This tendency is referred to as the abstinence violation effect.
So does this mean that even a brief lapse must lead to a full-blown relapse? Does it mean a person must continue to drink or drug until the use returns to the initial level? Is spiraling out of control inevitable? Simply put, no. A lapse need not become a relapse. After a slip, you have not unlearned all that you have learned. You have not unchanged all that you have changed in your life to support your recovery. You do not have to start counting again from day one. Continue reading
7 Risk factors for relapse
-Bill Abbott, SMART Recovery® Facilitator
Over the course of time I’ve observed several sets of circumstances that seem to increase the risk of a person with an addictive problem to sustain a relapse – that is, falling back to the former behavior. I must honestly state that this is an observational piece and I am not sure that there is any science behind it. Nevertheless it certainly does make sense that some of these circumstances do heighten the risk for a temporary or even permanent stepping out of the stages-of-change process which we call addiction recovery.
7 Risk Factors for Relapse
What follows is a short description of each of these.
Fantasy By this I mean thinking about a possible future scenario Continue reading
Dealing With Relapse in Addiction Recovery
~Green-In-MI, SMART Recovery Volunteer
I headed out in the middle of the morning. It was brilliantly sunny and the day would warm up quickly. I went out to my usual trail and headed north, finding my running rhythm. It was slower than it used to be, but I’d taken a few months off. Or more accurately, I had focused on my ‘drug of choice’ rather than on my recovery. It felt good to run again. This was me – the sober me. And it felt good.
As the trail rolled surprisingly easy underneath me, I noticed other things: the ducks flying over me, the spring birds singing. Someone was ambitious and mowing his grass for the first time this year, somewhere off the trail. A large community event was gearing up for the day with a couple of stages and lots of white tents. Families with strollers and people walking dogs were all along the trail.
I realized once again that somewhere in the fog of my drug of choice I’d forgotten Continue reading
A Manual for Group Therapists
Bob Keim, SMART Recovery Facilitator
When I saw this manual announced by SMART Recovery, I thought that it would be very appropriate for my use so I agreed to review it. I have used it for six months so now is an appropriate time to rate it.
Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center is a locked mental health treatment center where people are committed with a primary diagnosis of mental illness. Recently we have expanded to treating co-occurring substance abuse also. The majority of our patients have such dual diagnoses. The book claims to help professionals without specific substance abuse training lead SMART Recovery groups for people with co-occurring disorders. My recent professional training was in chaplaincy and I have no experience in recovery. At the time that I got this book I was facilitating a SMART group at our hospital. I had gone through the online training in 2010 and started the group in December 2010. The group was going well, but I thought that I could use some new ideas especially related to our dual diagnosis clients as the SMART training assumes healthy clients. Continue reading
Join us for a free online presentation featuring Dr. Tom Horvath
SMART Recovery® is pleased to announce that Dr. Tom Horvath, President of SMART Recovery will be speaking on: Relapse – Prevention and Coping, on Saturday, December 17 at 2:00 pm, (est) in the SMART Room online chat venue at SMART Recovery Online.
Dr. Horvath’s topic is particularly timely during the holidays and looking forward to the New Year. The holidays can be challenging for many and we hope this topic will be of great interest to the community. Dr. Horvath’s appeal is wide, as he examines how any habit can become problematic and offers a window on addressing these tendencies across a wide spectrum of the behaviors that are not serving us well.
Tom Horvath, Ph.D., a California licensed and board certified clinical psychologist (ABPP), has been President of SMART Recovery® for over a decade. He is the founder and president of Practical Recovery, a self-empowering addiction treatment system in San Diego. He is past president of the American Psychological Association’s Society on Addiction Psychology (Division 50), the world’s largest organization of addiction psychologists. He is the author of Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions (listed by the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies as a “Self-Help Book of Merit”). Continue reading
by Julie Myers, PsyD
Sometimes, when you slip in your recovery, your confidence may slip with you. You may believe that you don’t know how to change your behaviors, that somehow the slip means that you are right back to square one. But is this a rational belief? Have you really forgotten all that you learned? The answer is no.
When you move towards recovery, you begin to change your behaviors, thoughts and emotions, sometimes in subtle ways. You may have some favorite SMART tools to help you, such as the wave (urge surfing), ABCs, or making changes to your lifestyle. Sometimes, when people slip, they forget about these tools or simply stop practicing the tools that were effective to change their behaviors in the beginning.
Here are some suggestions if you find yourself faced with a slip and feel discouraged: Review the SMART tools. Are you still practicing them? Brainstorm by writing down all the things that are going on right now under the headings Thoughts, Behaviors, Emotions. Do you notice a pattern? Begin by using some of the tools that were most effective for you in the past to address some of the issues developed in your brainstorming. Next, add a new tool by looking in your SMART Recovery Handbook or on the tools page of the SMART Recovery website. Finally, be confident that you know how to change your behaviors! Then, write in your journal or post a reply to this blog article about how you managed to regain your footing; it will help you consolidate your confidence.
Reprinted with permission:
Copyright (2011) Julie Myers, PsyD: Psychologist in San Diego. All Rights Reserved