Celebrating the Holidays with Recovering Family Members and Friends
Peter Gaumond, Chief, ONDCP Recovery Branch
This time each year can be stressful for anyone, but the holidays present a special challenge for people recovering from a substance use disorder. Those in long-term recovery typically are adept at navigating the minefield of temptation at holiday social gatherings. But many of those in their first year of recovery, their friends, and family members wonder how best to celebrate the holidays safely, comfortably, and joyously.
If your festivities will include someone with a year or more in recovery, you may simply want to ask if there is anything you can do to make the holiday better for them. They may want to bring a friend who’s also in recovery. They may have beverage preferences or want the flexibility to step out for a short while, either to attend a mutual aid meeting (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or SMART Recovery), make a call, or Continue reading
Coping Skills Help Make Behavior Change Last
~Carrie Wilkens, Ph.D., Center for Motivation and Change
Making a change in your life is a pretty big deal. If you’ve moved into the action stage of change, we’d first like to first offer you a huge congratulations! This is a bold move, and one that deserves a lot of praise! Next we’d like to offer you some helpful tips to help make this change a little bit easier, and hopefully a lot more permanent!
Learn a few coping skills
You may have heard this term, coping skills, before and you may not really know what it means. Coping skills are things that you can do to help tolerate a difficult time by using constructive and positive strategies. More specifically, coping skills are what you need to tolerate the difficult moments that come along with making a significant change in your life (like giving up an unhealthy habit, learning a healthy behavior, not giving into impulses, etc.).
When we talk about coping skills, we can break them up into two categories, Continue reading
Self-Empowered Approach to Addiction Recovery
Tom Horvath, President of SMART Recovery, on learning to gain control over urges
Self-Empowered Approach to Addiction Recovery
Tom Horvath, Ph.D., a California licensed and board certified clinical psychologist (ABPP), has been President of SMART Recovery® for well 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
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
Enjoy Summer Without Getting Off Track
For many people, summer is the best time of the year. Warm weather, days at the beach, vacations… What’s not to love? But when you’re in recovery, especially early recovery, the pool parties and vacations of summer can be major relapse triggers. Here are some tips for enjoying summer without getting off track.
1. Plan ahead—If you know that you will be attending a party, barbecue, or other event that may be triggering, have an exit plan in place. Drive your own car so that you won’t get stuck there longer than you want to, or bring a sober friend along for support. If you are going on vacation, Continue reading
Addiction recovery and your brain
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.” ~Robert Frost
Imagine that you are standing at the edge of a dense forest. You want to go home, which is on the other side to the forest. You see a well-worn path entering the forest, and that path appears to be the easiest way through the trees.
But then, next to the path, you see a sign which reads “This Way to the Party!” An old friend appears and tells you, “Hey, this is a great party! You are missing out! Let’s go!” and he starts to pull you by the arm toward the well-worn path. You are tempted to join him, but on the other hand, you have been thinking lately that going down that well-worn path is not helping you to achieve your goals.
As you are thinking about this, another friend appears, a new friend, and he says, “I’ve got a better idea. Continue reading