Tag Archives: substance abuse

“Am I Going Crazy?!”

Posted on July 29, 2014

PAWS: Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
by Bill Abbott & Suzy W., SMART Recovery Meeting Facilitators

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is something that perhaps unfortunately, we haven’t discussed much in SMART Recovery®. It is a not yet widely known problematic syndrome (syndrome is a medical term which describes a grouping of varying symptoms) of addiction recovery. The following scenario can illustrate it:

    You’ve been through detox and all of the withdrawal symptoms and you are doing pretty well for perhaps a month or two. Suddenly, you start to realize that you’re feeling edgy and antsy. You are experiencing mood swings that range from being on a pink cloud to feeling down in the dumps. You find that you can’t concentrate. You are having trouble sleeping, you’re sleeping too much, or you’re having very vivid dreams. “What’s going on?” you wonder. “Am I going crazy?!”

No, you’re not going crazy. You are suffering from what is known as PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). Unfortunately, as noted above, we don’t often hear much about it in the recovery community even though it is an extremely common experience.

We know that recovery progresses in stages. After the initial acute withdrawal, Continue reading

Crystallization Of Discontent

Posted on March 4, 2014

Motivation For Self-Change
Pete Soderman, SMART Recovery® Facilitator

discontentThree-quarters of us who have abused or were dependent upon a substance or activity have either self-remitted or moderated to non-abusive levels, either completely on our own, or with minimal help. That we have done so without formal treatment or self-help programs has been well-established by the scientific community in many detailed studies over several decades. In fact, at least 34 studies have indicated that the single most effective treatment method for dependence is a single brief intervention from a trusted health-care provider, such as a family doctor.

In 1999, I was sitting on a hospital bed, waiting to be released, merely five days after a major heart attack, wondering how to convince my wife to stop on the way home for a carton of cigarettes. Before my cardiologist signed the release, she looked me right in the eyes and told me that if I started smoking again, my chances of dying, and doing it quickly, were four times greater than if I didn’t. If that wasn’t enough, my wife told me on the way home that she would leave me, should I ever smoke again, because she couldn’t stay around to watch me die. I have never smoked again! Continue reading

Shattering Myths Surrounding Teen Drug Use

Posted on January 21, 2014

National Drug Facts Week, January 27 – February 2, 2014

NIDA's National Drug Facts Week
By joining forces and bringing young adults and scientific experts together with a common goal, National Drug Facts Week aims to shatter the myths that surround teen drug use and underage drinking, and provides an invaluable opportunity for youth to find out the true facts.  The week will start with the seventh annual National Drug Facts Chat Day on January 28, 2014 to provide opportunities for teens  across the country to engage in meaningful conversation and receive honest and factual answers to their questions.  

About a third of high school seniors report using an illicit drug sometime in the past year; more than ten percent report nonmedical use of potentially addictive prescription painkillers; and more than twenty percent report smoking marijuana in the past month. Many teens are not aware of the risks to their health, to their success in school and the dangers while driving under the influence. When teens are given the scientific facts about drugs, they can be better prepared to make good decisions for themselves and they can share this information with others.

Balanced and evidence-based approaches are a key to reducing drug use in teens.  This free NIDA program, encourages science-based information sharing and empowers teens to “discover the power of choice.”  The online resources for National Drug Facts Week include multiple tools and innovative opportunities for young adults, and also parents, educators, and the community at large. Continue reading

Scientifically Supported Recovery

Posted on July 16, 2013

Clinical Trial of SMART Recovery’s Effectiveness


ResearchersThere have been many success stories during the 19-year history of SMART Recovery. The most recent of these is scientific evidence that supports SMART’s effectiveness in dealing with alcohol problems.

Like AA, SMART Recovery provides free mutual help for anyone desiring to abstain from alcohol. However, SMART Recovery’s approach, based on cognitive-behavior therapy tools, is quite different from that of AA. Many have questioned whether this type of addiction recovery alternative is helpful.

To answer this question, a randomized clinical trial, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recruited 189 heavy drinkers who were new to SMART Recovery. A web app, Overcoming Addictions (OA), based on the SMART Recovery 4-Point Program®, was created and the 189 heavy drinkers who were new to SMART were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) use the OA web app alone; 2) use the OA web app, plus attend SMART Recovery meetings, or 3) attend SMART Recovery meetings only. “Significant others” were interviewed to verify the participant’s self-report at baseline and at follow-up.

Researchers assessed the percentage of days abstinent and the amount of negative alcohol/drug consequences in the three months prior to enrollment in the study and at follow-up. After three months, participants in all groups increased their percentage of days abstinent from 44% to 72%, and significantly reduced their negative alcohol/drug consequences. There were no significant differences between groups. Based on the results obtained with other recovery approaches, these results are clinically significant. Individuals who find the SMART Recovery approach appealing can try it with confidence.

    “I am feeling all kinds of freedom that I had not experienced in the past. I feel like I am growing and stretching and learning. There has been a lot of internal progress, and I am so grateful for my time at SMART Recovery. SMART Recovery Online really is a home base for me — my touchstone. Community meetings have been beneficial to me, as well. I had some good long lapses in the past, but I have always stayed in touch online. And I’ve had some darn good successes, too — I’m now almost 4 years sober and continuing to grow.” Dee, SMART Volunteer

The report of the clinical trial has just been published online at the open access Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The Overcoming Addictions web app will be available to the public in the fall of 2013, via the SMART Recovery website.

About the study: The study was conducted by the Research Division of Behavior Therapy Associates, LLC.

Got Drugs? National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Posted on April 24, 2012

Help Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse, Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, to be held on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Data Shows that Friends and Family Are A Primary Source of Abused Painkillers

From the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP):

The ONDCP has released a new data analysis revealing that the majority of first-time or occasional prescription drug abusers are most likely to get their drugs from a friend or family member– for free, or without permission. Prescription drugs are the second-most abused category of drugs in the United States, following marijuana. When taken as directed for legitimate medical purposes, prescription drugs are safe and effective. However, they are just as dangerous and deadly as illegal drugs when used for non-medical reasons. This new analysis found that:

Among new abusers of pain relievers (those who began misuse of pain relievers in the past year), 68 percent obtained the pills from a friend or relative for free or took them without asking, Continue reading

Our Psychological Landscape

Posted on March 22, 2011

Hank Robb, Ph.D. speaks on Our Psychological Landscape. “As humans we have the opportunity to live our lives as best we can, to choose the directions we go, to be where we are, to do what’s important.”

Our Psychological Landscape from SMART Recovery® on Vimeo.

When traveling, it is nice to have a map of the territory. No matter where you are, it can be useful to know where that place is compared to other possible places to be. Your Psychological Landscape provides a map of any human being’s “psychological territory” so that viewers can have a better sense of where they are when traveling that territory and also a better sense of where they might choose to go.

Dr. Hank Robb, Ph.D., ABPP One of the founding Board Members of SMART Recovery, Hank has continued his involvement with the SMART Recovery organization as a Volunteer Advisor and his regular article contributions to the SMART Recovery News & Views newsletter.

Continue reading