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Oxygen Mask Rule for Family & Friends

Every time we fly, we hear flight attendants sharing some variation of the Oxygen Mask Rule: “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” Why do they...

Supporting Recovery Without Enabling

Family & Friends

In Epidemics, Hippocrates said, “Make a habit of two things–to help, or at least to do no harm.” How can we apply that idea to helping family and friends with addictions? When we care about individuals who are trying to overcome addictions, we often face...

“Help! I’m Losing My Mind!” – Tips for Family & Friends of Someone with an Addiction

Family & FriendsLifestyle BalanceManaging ThoughtsSupport SMART

A guest blog provided by Emily Tomkins – SMART Recovery Family & Friends Facilitator If you are a friend or family member of someone with an addiction, you likely have a lot of big feelings about the situation. One feeling that we often hear expressed in our...

About SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is an abstinence-based, not-for-profit organization with a sensible self-help program for people having problems with drinking and using. It includes many ideas and techniques to help you change your life from one that is self-destructive and unhappy to one that is constructive and satisfying. SMART Recovery is not a spin-off of Alcoholics Anonymous.  No one will label you an “alcoholic”, an “addict” or “diseased” nor “powerless”, and if you do not believe in a religion or spirituality, that’s fine, too. We teach common sense self-help procedures designed to empower you to abstain and to develop a more positive lifestyle.  When you succeed at following our approach, you may graduate from the program, or you may stay around to help others.

Based on Sensible Theory

Drinking and using can serve a purpose — to cope with life’s problems and emotional upsets. There’s a drawback, however.  Many problems arise from heavy drinking and continual using. So that kind of coping is not only impractical, it’s counterproductive. To help you reverse your self-destructive behavior, we use a cognitive-behavioral (thinking/doing) psychotherapy called REBT which stands for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.  Psychologist Albert Ellis devised this system in the’50s.  It’s effective and widely accepted. According to REBT, your thinking creates your feelings and leads you to act.  By managing the beliefs and emotions that lead you to drink or use, you can empower yourself to quit.  Then you can work at problems you have with abstaining. In SMART Recovery, we are not much concerned with the past, except to learn from it.  We focus on present-day events and the causes of self-destructive behaviors.  We concentrate on what to do about them in order to achieve a positive lifestyle change, especially in the areas of our lives that are related to drinking or using.

Key Areas of Awareness and Change

In SMART Recovery we emphasize:

(1) Enhancing motivation;

(2) Refusing to act on urges to use;

(3) Managing life’s problems in a sensible and effective way without substances; and

(4) Developing a positive, balanced, and healthy lifestyle.

Motives and Goals

Motivation is a key element in nearly all you do. Consider that we all have two primary goals – survival and the avoidance of pain along with seeking happiness.  You can increase your awareness of your motives for drinking and your reasons for quitting. Then you will feel better about changing your behavior.  We will show you how.

Beliefs

What  you  believe  about  addiction  is  important,  and  there  are many beliefs  about  heavy drinking and recovery.  You may believe, for example, that you have an incurable disease, that you have a genetic defect, that you’re powerless, or that after the first drink you have to lose all control.  These beliefs may actually be damaging to you. Some people have additional beliefs.  For example, “I’ve tried and failed, so I can’t do it.  I need alcohol to cope”, or “Because I’ve tried to quit and failed, I’m no good”.  Those beliefs, and many like them, can’t be justified because the evidence just doesn’t support them.

Emotions

Emotions are important too.  People often drink or use to cope with their emotional problems including anger, guilt, anxiety, and low self-esteem.  SMART Recovery teaches you how to diminish your emotional disturbances and increase self-acceptance.  Then you can have greater motivation and ability to remain abstinent and to live more happily.

Behaviors

Changes in thinking and emotions are not enough.  Commitment and follow-through are essential.  We encourage members to work at problems and to become involved in enjoyable activities in place of their substance use activities.

How Help is Provided

Our meeting format is straightforward and organized.  Our facilitators (some are professionals) are trained for the job.  Some of them have had experience with drinking and using, and some haven’t. That doesn’t seem to make any difference. Remember, SMART Recovery is a mental health and educational program, focused on changing human behavior. SMART Recovery meetings are serious but often fun. We’re certainly not into drunkalogues (war stories), sponsors, and meetings-for-life.  We don’t dredge up the past about which you can do nothing.  We can do something about the present and the future. We present either our problems with drinking or using or our difficulties in recovery. The primary tool used in SMART Recovery is the ABC method of problem-solving. The ABCs help us gain awareness of our mistaken beliefs that lead to problem emotions and behaviors. Near the end of the meeting, the “hat” is passed for donations, which are encouraged but not required.

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