Tag Archives: urges

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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What’s the first step of habit change? Going off autopilot!

Posted on August 22, 2017

– 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.”

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Powerless? Or PowerFUL? The Choice is Yours!

Posted on July 25, 2017

Challenges of Addiction Recovery
by: Hank Robb, PhD, ABPP

Though unpleasant feelings come and go
You’re always around to run the show!

Everybody has a voice inside his or her head that sometimes says, “How about doing something stupid?” The “stupid thing” varies from time to time, person to person, and place to place, but that voice is always “just around the corner.” You’re not “powerless” you’re just a living human being with the problem faced by all living human beings: that voice that says, “How about doing something stupid?”

“Getting SMART” means learning to recognize that voice and then refusing to go along with it. Because the bad results from the following the “stupid voice” don’t show up right away, staying “SMART” means keeping your eyes on the prize and moving toward what’s really important to you.

You never lose control of your hands, arms, feet, and mouth (unless you have a stroke or a seizure) — that ‘blah, blah, blah’ inside your head can’t make you do anything. You’re in control of you, even if you are not in control of that ‘blah, blah, blah’. You can always refuse to go along with that sometimes oh, so tempting, stupid voice inside your noggin.

When you do refuse, you may have some unpleasant feelings for awhile. Just remember:

Though unpleasant feelings come and go
You’re always around to run the show!

 


 

About the author: Hank Robb received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 1978. He served as Director of Counseling and Associate Professor of Psychology at Lewis Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho between 1978 and 1986. During this time, he also served as President of the Idaho Psychological Association, and Chair of the Idaho Board of Psychologist Examiners, the state psychology licensing board. Dr. Robb moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon in 1986  In addition to his private psychology practice, Dr. Robb has published over thirty professional articles and book chapters on a wide variety of psychological issues and delivered scores of papers, presentations and workshops at state, national and international meetings. He is an Associate Fellow and Supervisor of the Albert Ellis Institute and a Peer Reviewed Trainer for Acceptance & Commitment Therapy as well as a Fellow of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.

Dr. Robb is board certified in both Counseling Psychology and Cognitive & Behavioral Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology, and a Past-President of the American Board of Counseling Psychology. Additionally, he holds a Certificate of Proficiency in the Treatment of Alcohol and Other Psychoactive Substance Use Disorders from the American Psychological Association’s College of Professional Psychology. He also served eight years as Chair of The Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy’s Religious and Spiritual Issues Special Interest Group and is certified as a Humanist Celebrant by the Humanist Society.
Dr. Robb is a founding board member of SMART Recovery. He has written a column for the SMART Recovery quarterly newsletter News & Views from almost the time the newsletter was established. He returned to the board in 2015 has chaired ad hoc committees since his return. Continue reading

5 Ways to Deal With Urges and Cravings

Posted on January 31, 2017

By Randy Lindel, Facilitator, SMART Recovery® Boston

Read on for five (5) practical ideas on how to cope with urges and cravings after you have decided to abstain from drugs and alcohol.

Cravings are normal

Everyone who’s engaged in addictive behavior will experience uncomfortable cravings (“I want it badly”) and urges (“I have to do it now”). They are normal. And fortunately, they always pass with time. At the outset of recovery, they can be pretty intense, but each one will subside if you can wait it out and have a plan for relapse prevention. Cravings and urges will decrease in strength and frequency over time. You can make this happen by adopting some coping strategies that work best for you.

Learning to resist cravings

For many people, urges and cravings to use drugs or alcohol trigger automatic responses. They are without conscious thought: I want [fill in the blank]. = I get it. Learning to say NO to these intense, ingrained desires is one of the biggest challenges in recovery. The good news is that you can understand these desires and learn to resist them. Continue reading

Holiday Challenges to Addiction Recovery

Posted on November 22, 2016

What’s your plan?

Holiday TemptationDecember is right around the corner, and and opportunities for urges and cravings seem to be everywhere. SMART volunteers have put their heads together to offer some suggestions to help you navigate the holiday challenges.

People who achieve long-term sobriety have three characteristics in common:

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Overcoming Addictive Behavior

Posted on October 12, 2016

Use Logic and Reason to Change Addictive Behavior
Jonathan von Breton, LCMHC, LCDP

There is a very helpful addiction recovery tool that can change the way that you think about drugs and alcohol. It is called the ABC Tool and it is used in SMART Recovery®. The underlying assumption of the ABC Tool is that how we think has a major impact on our emotions and behaviors.

Change our thinking…and then our feelings and actions will change as well.

The ABC Tool is a self-help activity that you can complete any time that you feel like drinking or using, or when you want to stop drinking alcohol** for a month or more. In effect, the ABC Tool helps us unravel our thinking about drugs and alcohol and is the basic way to abstain from any chemical or behavior that negatively impacts our life. But what is the ABC Tool? And how do you put it into action? We review here. Continue reading