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.”
“Look beyond the walls of therapy, towards independence and empowerment.”
In Recover!, Ilse Thompson and I liken your addiction to the noise of the surf that you dive under in the ocean. You then come up fresh on the other side of the wave. That image is an example of a mindfulness exercise or meditation through which you translate your thinking into a concrete image that you can identify with your addiction and manipulate mindfully.
Mindfulness means slightly different things in psychology (à la Ellen Langer) and Buddhism (à la Tara Brach). In Langer’s formulation, mindfulness is the awareness of what impels you to behave as you do, emotionally and situationally. In Buddhism, mindfulness is the acute awareness of your presence in the world, the here-and-now. Langer’s mindfulness allows you to control your environment and yourself; Buddhism’s to experience the world directly and instantly.
The first formulation allows you to feel your agency—that you are directing your life in place of being driven habitually and emotionally. The second allows you to be at peace with yourself—the notion of radical acceptance.
And both types of mindfulness are tools with which to attack addiction. Each of them shows you Continue reading
Access addiction recovery support from home
-Dolores Cloward, SMART Recovery® Volunteer
If you are looking for help with addiction recovery, whether it’s addiction to substances or addiction to behaviors, SMART Recovery Online is a wonderful place to start. Our program is science-based, incorporating scientific best practices in psychology. Here, you will find a supportive online community (message board forums, 24/7 chat and daily online meetings). We also offer practical tools to help you think your way through what you want for your life and how to go about achieving it. And, like other addiction recovery programs, SMART Recovery Online is free and accessible from home. It may be the only resource you need!
What is SMART Recovery?
Now in its third decade, SMART Recovery is a non-profit organization that offers tools for addiction recovery based on scientific research. In addition to over 1,600 local meetings world-wide, our website is home to an international recovery community Continue reading