We all have triggers. It might be a situation or an emotion; a sight, sound or smell; a holiday or a time of day. Something that our brain learned over time to associate with our addictive behavior, and that it needs to unlearn as we start to break that connection. For me, it was cocktail receptions. They weren’t the only situation I associated with drinking – far from it – but they were one of the toughest. At the end of a long day at a conference, having watched what felt like 11,000 nearly-identical presentations in a row (and gulping down way too much coffee in order to stay alert) those clinking glasses and twinkling lights exerted a powerful pull. And the few times I ‘slipped’ after I quit (fortunately, one-drink slips) were at cocktail receptions. After the second time it happened, I knew I had to confront the situation…by avoiding it. Continue reading
I Want It, and I Want It Now!
by Alina Boie, M.S.
We live in a world full of instant self-gratification and we have little patience to wait or delay access to our “treats”. Almost everything nowadays is at a click of a button – literally! It is so difficult to say no to those appealing coupons and “must-have-it” deals. Everything around us attempts to help us get what we want faster – instantly, if possible. We want faster cars, faster computers, readily available food, easy access to the movie we want to see, appliances that work without problems, etc. While this may appear as a very appealing benefit of the modern society, it also undermines our ability to manage our frustration, when we do NOT get what we want immediately. Continue reading
[repost from the Center for Motivation and Change website]
Every wonder what it means to be a balanced person? Does it mean being in control all the time? Being calm all the time? Able to handle anything? Moderate in all things? Able to stay composed when everyone else is falling apart? Being someone who manages to always eat right, work out, spend time with friends and family and manage a work life?
The four points of SMART are points, not steps, and the idea is to work on all of them as needed, often at the same time. That said, their order makes sense for someone just starting on their journey toward freedom from an addiction. First they have to build motivation to abstain from the addictive substance or behavior and then they need to be able to cope with urges they will inevitably experience. In this second of four posts on the points of SMART, I’m going to talk about some of the techniques the program offers to those struggling with urges so they don’t have to rely on some vague idea of “willpower.”
SMART for Life: An Entertaining and Informative Video
~Jeff Fredricksen, SMART Recovery Meeting Facilitator
I’m very honored that SMART Recovery has decided to re-release our video SMART for Life, and make it available to all via YouTube. Ten years ago when we originally filmed SMART for Life, YouTube had just started. There was a lot more time and effort involved in putting a video together. Back then you couldn’t become a star with just a phone and a guitar, or a cat.
When I looked at our film again I was reminded how enthusiastic I was about SMART Recovery, and how Joe Moreland and I jumped at this chance to do something our way. Of course, as most things that you are feeling very positive about, you don’t properly calculate the number of hours involved in writing, directing, casting, and editing a thirty minute video. But Joe helped to inspire me, believing I could do a good job, being a terrific script editor and producer and keeping me sane. And it was all well worth it.
Ten years later I still believe SMART to be an amazing program and I’ve found myself once again heavily involved as a facilitator in Long Beach and thinking of future projects. We needed to make a few simple edits to update the film, but 99.5% is the same…So please enjoy the video, let us know what you think, and pass it on to friends that might not know SMART. We tried to do a good job shining a light on it.
Jeff Fredriksen is a writer, performer and speaker living in Long Beach, CA where he also facilitates a weekly SMART Face to Face meeting. He invites you to visit his comedy blog http://amusingz.com. Continue reading
– Carrie Wilkens, Clinical Director of the Center for Motivation and Change
Changing behavior requires self-awareness. Changing a well-worn habit in particular requires that you move it from “automatic” to “conscious” so that you can make other behavioral choices. For example, if you don’t even notice that you are reaching for a cigarette as you get into your car, how are you ever going to decide to resist lighting it up?
Habits are influenced by your environment and are set off by environmental cues, sometimes called triggers. Triggers are the people, situations, locations and emotions associated with any behavior you are trying to change. When it comes to substance use, triggers are the environmental variables that provoke “cravings” or the desire to use or engage in the habit. Neuroscientists have studied the trigger effect in the brain—how an encounter with drug paraphernalia or the smell of a long-frequented pub lights up the part of the brain responsible for emotion and instinct, the “feel good” parts of the brain. As you encounter these cues in your daily life, it’s likely that you are on autopilot and don’t even notice how they are linked to your decision to engage in your habit. Scientists have also found that once these habits are engaged, the brain has a difficult time considering the consequences and risks associated with the behavior. In other words, once you are in your car, smoking the cigarette, it’s not likely that you will have the wherewithal to say “this is really bad for my health, I’m going to throw this cigarette and the rest of the pack away right now.”