Saturday, October 21, 5:00 pm EST
As concerned significant others, families and friends, our intimate connection should make us natural allies, but we often don’t know how to talk with each other or work together when it comes to addiction, with all the emotional intensity that brings to relationships.
SMART and CRAFT work beautifully together to encourage healthy, productive efforts towards an improved quality of life for everyone, and we are particularly proud of our association with Dr. Meyers, and the growth of our efforts to help SMART Recovery Family & Friends based on CRAFT, Community Reinforcement and Family Training.
Robert Meyers has pioneered the study of how families can help support those with addiction and is a creator of CRAFT, the scientifically validated and widely acclaimed alternative to “intervention,” as we widely think of it. His book, Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening, co-written with Brenda Wolfe in 2003, has already become a classic.
Dr. Meyers is an internationally renowned speaker and gives CRAFT training workshops around the world. He has been in the field of addiction treatment for 38 years and long affiliated with the University of New Mexico. He is currently director of Robert J. Meyers, Ph.D. & Associates.
SMART Recovery is pleased to continue to offer its Special Event Webinars and subsequent podcasts free to everyone who may have interest in topics related to addiction and recovery, in addition to our extensive community of participants, facilitators, professionals, and friends, and of course, the family and friends of loved ones. SMART celebrates its 23rd anniversary; we hope you’ll join our warm community of support!
Review of Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide to Controlling Your Drug and Alcohol Use (2nd ed.) by P. Denning and J. Little published by Guilford Press 2017
Book review by A.Tom Horvath, Ph.D.
Although harm reduction is commonly used in other countries, this approach to coping with problematic addictive behavior is unfortunately uncommon in the US. The authors are two US harm reduction leaders. They founded the Center for Harm Reduction Therapy in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000. This book is intended for persons considering change. The authors have also written a book for professionals, the acclaimed Practicing Harm Reduction Therapy, now in a 2nd edition.
To provide an overview of this impressive work I will extensively quote it. In response to the question “What is Harm Reduction?” they provide the following three paragraphs (p. 197)
“Harm reduction is a way to help people change their substance use without demanding immediate and lifelong abstinence. It uses many creative strategies to keep people alive and safe while they figure out how to develop a healthier relationship with drugs. For some people, that means abstinence; for others that means moderate or safer use.”
“Harm reduction takes a health perspective rather than a moral or legal perspective, on drug use. Drug use is not bad. It is normal human behavior, and most people don’t get into trouble with it. Drug misuse is a habit that has gotten out of hand, or it is a signal of other co-occurring problems.”
“Harm reduction attends to every aspect of health—physical, mental and emotional, social and economic. It is nonjudgmental, compassionate, and pragmatic—it starts where the person is, stays with the person through the entire process of change, and never ever kicks anyone out.”
The sections of this book are:
Preface: How did we get here?
For SMART meeting leaders many of the chapters or appendices alone would be sufficient reason to purchase this book. In particular the quick reference to drugs (the 1st appendix) includes a section, for each drug or drug class, on the “beneficial effects.” This section is consistent with how SMART conducts a cost-benefit analysis (CBA), and provides essential information for understanding the user’s motivations.
SMART meeting leaders will find the entire book to contain familiar language and a familiar motivational perspective. Chapter 7 includes specific mention of the Stages of Change (p. 131) and provides an extended presentation that weaves together the underlying concepts of the Change Plan Worksheet and the Cost Benefit Analysis. Chapter 8 includes Triggers (p. 145), as well as classic harm reduction steps to reduce harm while not stopping or reducing use.
Some SMART meeting leaders might view SMART’s abstinence approach as very different than a harm reduction approach. I suggest the alternative perspective that all approaches to problematic addictive behavior involve making changes that are appealing in the long term but not so appealing in the short term. The extent to which each person is willing to honor the long term over the short term varies person to person, and time to time in the same person. Harm reduction provides a unifying framework for helping anyone, at any moment, in their personal change process.
It falls outside of SMART meeting guidelines to discuss classic harm reduction methods (like changing your route of administration). However, we do focus on “stopping,” which is also a unifying framework. Anyone who wants to honor the long term over the short term will need to “stop” something, to some extent, at some point. The harm reduction approach is larger than, and includes, the SMART approach. It would benefit any SMART meeting leader to be familiar with this larger perspective.
In full disclosure, the back cover of this book includes the following quote from me: “A highly informative, practical, passionate and moving guide…The stories on these pages are reminders of the power of the human spirit.” I’m pleased to say that, after reading this book a second time (for this review), this quote seems even more applicable.
We invite SMART-related blog entries from all interested readers. Entries should have strong pertinence to SMART. Queries are welcome. Send manuscripts or queries to email@example.com
Things were a little touch-and-go as to whether SMART’s 2017 Annual Conference: Rising Strong would be able to occur in Ft. Lauderdale on September 22-24. But much like the conference theme and SMART’s unstoppable growth, Rising Strong took place as scheduled. The Conference was well attended and received great ratings from the volunteers, meeting participants and treatment professionals who attended.
SMART remains grateful for the financial support of our sponsors, Synergy Recovery Center/Synergy Executive, and the Florida branch of NAADAC.
The President’s Address by Dr. Joe Gerstein, and Guerrilla Tactics for the Hostile, Difficult, Disengaged, and Over-Engaged Participant Part 2 by Dr. David Saenz were the two favorite presentations of attendees.
SMART’s new 5-Year Strategic Plan was debuted at the Conference, and included in many of the comments during Dr. Gerstein’s President’s Address. A copy of the Strategic Plan can be found here.
“Great conference, well organized and concise, no wasted time. I learned things I will use and facilitate meetings a little differently.” Dan Piddington, Synergy Recovery Center and SMART Facilitator
Also enjoyed were new results from the Peer Alternatives to Addiction (PAL) study, presented by Dr. Sarah Zemore, and a research review by Dr. William Campbell of the Checkup & Choices app, which when used in conjunction with SMART meetings, is shown to enhance recovery outcomes.
Organizational-related presentations — including an update on SMART Recovery International; BMore SMART, a program for growing SMART in inner cities; and SMART coming alive on Prince Edward Island, Canada — were each well received.
“Totally enjoyed the fellowship and enthusiasm of members from all over the U.S., Australia, Canada, and England. SMART continues to be supported by science, hard to argue with data. I learned some new skills from other facilitators. Dr. Joe continues to inspire.” Michael Weiner, Treatment Professional
Dr. Don Sheeley received the 2017 Joseph Gerstein Award for Outstanding Service. While not able to attend because of a conflict, Dr. Sheeley expressed it was an honor to learn of his selection following the meeting.
“The conference was very helpful and informative. I got to meet many fellow travelers in the world of recovery from old destructive behaviors and the men and women who work hard to support me. My passion to bring SMART to as many as possible continues to just rise up!” James R. Moore, SMART Facilitator, West Palm Beach, FL
Sunday’s Motivational Interviewing Workshop, led by Dr. Lori Eickleberry was extremely well received, with ratings of 9 out of 10 for every question on the evaluation form. Comments included: “One of the best workshops re: usefulness & practical application & helpful key skills”, and “Lori was fantastic and did wonderful within the time allotted.”
Special thanks to the GALLERYone DoubleTree Hotel for working hard to ensure the Conference could take place, though many of their guestrooms and some meeting space had water damage from Hurricane Irma.
Networking and reconnecting with the SMART community are always atop the list of things most enjoyed by Conference participants. It’s really an event not to be missed – start planning now to join us in the fall of 2018. Stay tuned for dates and location.
Partnership Presents at Hilton Foundation and Legal Action Center Discussion on Adolescent Substance Use
A Diverse and Welcoming Support Community
When I recognized and accepted my sex-related addiction in March 2015 (2 1/2 years ago), I started looking for resources to help in my recovery. I knew that in addition to a good therapist, I would need at least one good group. For various reasons, the 12-step approach didn’t appeal to me, so I looked for alternatives, and ended up finding SMART Recovery.
From the website, I learned that SMART emphasizes personal choice and empowerment, and uses a rational thought-based approach toward recovery It’s backed by scientific research and updated as new research and discoveries are made. On the site I also found a lot of information about the organization, detailed information about the program (including “how-to” pages), and an amazing amount of reading material about addiction and recovery in general.
For a science-minded person like me, who’d always thought I was very logical and rational but was mystified and frustrated at how illogical, irrational, and powerless this addiction had made me, it seemed like a great fit. The only catch was that even though the site talked about addiction in general, the materials seemed to focus an awful lot on substance addiction (primarily drinking). Would I fit in?
More importantly, would I be welcome? At the time, I had a tremendous amount of shame – more than most people with addictions because mine was … you know … SEX!
I walked into that first meeting very tentatively, but resolved to stay. The facilitators recognized that I was new and made me feel very welcome, as did the people I sat next to. At the start of the meeting, there was a “check-in” – people saying their name, why they were there, and a little bit about what was going on with them at the time. My turn came, and I looked down at the table, with a knot in my gut, and said “Hi, I’m Rob. I’m a sex addict. This is my first meeting.” and talked a bit about how I’d come to be there …
From around the table came a chorus of “Welcomes” and “We’re glad you found us”s and so on. The facilitator said “Thank you for sharing – if it’s OK, we’d like to come back to you after check-in and hear more about your story.”
I’ve been going back to that meeting, 1 or 2 times per week, ever since.
I have learned that I am not an addict – I have an addiction.
I have learned to use numerous tools (thought/writing exercises) to help me motivate myself to change, to deal with challenging urges, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to live a balanced life. I use these tools every day, not only in relation to my addiction, but in other areas of my life.
I have learned to stop using self-defeating and self-limiting language and instead use language that reinforces my power of choice in my life.
I have learned to notice when I am thinking in irrational ways and how to challenge that thinking and turn it into rational thoughts.
I have learned how to safely be vulnerable.
I have learned how to get back up when I fall.
I have found a community of people who are genuine, honest, and caring, and I’ve made some very good friends.
I have stayed sober/clean/unusing/whatever term you want.
I’m not going to say that SMART Recovery did this for me or to me, because that’s not the case. I did this. But I did it in large part because of SMART Recovery, because of what I learned through SMART Recovery.
One final note. SMART Recovery meetings are facilitated by volunteers, not medical professionals. Many facilitators are people people like myself who have gone through recovery. I have such respect for this organization and gratitude for what it has helped me to do that this summer I decided to take the online training class to become a facilitator. I am proud to have done so and to be able to give something back to this incredible organization.
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Joins the Fashion and Music Industries to Help Address Substance Use Disorders
Hi my name is Anna. I got into cocaine and later heroin when I got into the club scene. My friends and I had a great time in our late teens and 20's. However things took a turn for the worse after I was not the cute young girl in the club anymore. I decided I did not want to be defined by drugs or the clubs. I have been living for Jesus ever since. Sharing my struggle and my glory which is revealed in him.