Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Cincinnati Reds Bring Partnership Resources to Families in Ohio

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Personal choice and empowerment

A Diverse and Welcoming Support Community

Rob Freundlich, SMART Recovery Meeting Facilitator

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.

Rob Freundlich is a software developer in the greater Boston metropolitan area. He has been attending SMART Recovery meetings at Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA since early 2015 and recently completed the Get SMART FAST training and began facilitating a meeting at Emerson.





Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Parent Coach Training Takes Place in Nashville, Tennessee

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Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Joins the Fashion and Music Industries to Help Address Substance Use Disorders

The post Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Joins the Fashion and Music Industries to Help Address Substance Use Disorders appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids - Where Families Find Answers.


The Science and History of SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery 2017

Guest Blogger, William L. White 

The growth of secular addiction recovery mutual aid groups is an important landmark within the history of addiction recovery in the United States. In recent years, I have helped catalogue (See HERE) the history of groups such as Women for Sobriety, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, LifeRing Secular Recovery, and SMART Recovery, as well as describe the growth of a secular wing of Alcoholics Anonymous (See HERE and HERE).  A related involvement has been serving on SMART Recovery’s International Advisory Council. Dr. Joe Gerstein, founding President of SMART Recovery, recently shared the following update with members of the International Advisory Council. This communication highlights both the growth of SMART Recovery and its increasing recognition by addiction professional and recovery support specialists. It is shared here with permission.

30 August 2017

Dear Member of the SMART Recovery International Advisory Council:

Those of us who are deeply involved in the development and expansion of the SMART Recovery Program into a worldwide phenomenon greatly appreciate your willingness to lend your name and reputation to our endeavors!

SMART Recovery has now clearly entered into the mainstream of the self-help/mutual aid recovery movement with more than 2,400 weekly meetings in 21 countries. The SMART Recovery Program has been endorsed by NIDA, NIAAA, SAMHSA, NADCP, Federal Bureau of Prisons, ASAM, EAPA, AAFP, NICE (UK) and NCHCQR (Australia). SMART Recovery received three mentions in the landmark U.S. Surgeon General’s Report Facing Addiction (2016). The SMART program for correctional facilities InsideOut, funded by NIDA, is now used in more than 200 prisons worldwide.

The SMART Recovery Handbook is now in its 3rd Edition and has been published in 11 languages plus a special edition for Australian Aboriginals. Special editions of the Facilitator Handbook for SMART Recovery and the Family & Friends (F&F) program were developed in Australia and the Participant Handbook in the UK. Our F&F program is based on the highly effective Community Reinforcement And Family Training (CRAFT) system. SMART now hosts about 50 F&F group meetings.

A global SMART corporate entity is in formation: SMART Recovery International, which will hold the SMART Recovery trademarks and copyrights, and administer multinational entities being formed, along with national organizations to support local SMART groups. At the outset, the Board seats will be occupied by US, UK and Australia SMART representatives. We hope to add representatives from Ireland (Eire), Denmark and Canada in the near future.

The smartrecovery.org website is approaching 2,000,000 annual visitors and 200,000 registrants. SMART online meetings are in tremendous demand. The SMART Recovery online, interactive facilitator training program is enrolling a monthly cohort of about 300 people, about two-thirds of them professionals.

SMART’s value in reducing crime was proven in a recent study of inmates in the New South Wales Prison System. Authored by Chris Blatch, et al., this study was published as an Invited Article and the Leading Article in the Journal of Forensic Practice in January of 2016. It followed the reoffending [reconviction] rate of 3,000 inmates with addiction histories within two years of release who were exposed to SMART Recovery meetings compared with 3,000 exquisitely matched controls. Those who attended at least 10 SMART Recovery sessions had reoffending rates reduced by 22% overall and an impressive 43% in violent crimes.

This January, Bill White and Rita Chaney generated a SMART Recovery bibliography, which now runs to more than 100 articles and research papers. Additional research is planned and underway, including significant studies that will evaluate SMART’s effectiveness in providing recovery support/mutual aid in detail and over significant periods of time.

John F. Kelly, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Addiction Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has been serving as SMART Recovery’s Volunteer Director of Research since 2011, vetting proposals for research potentially involving SMART Recovery participants. You might be interested in this article, which concerns the ethics of appropriate mutual aid group referrals: “Addiction, 12-Step Programs, and Evidentiary Standards for Ethically and Clinically Sound Treatment Recommendations: What Should Clinicians Do?” available here: http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2016/06/sect1-1606.html

If and when you come across a scientific study which you think might have pertinence to the SMART Recovery Program, please do send me the reference so that we may consider its potential utility.

Again, many thanks for your generous support of SMART Recovery.


Joseph Gerstein, MD, FACP
President, SMART Recovery

William L. White is an Emeritus Senior Research Consultant at Chestnut Health Systems / Lighthouse Institute and past-chair of the board of Recovery Communities United. Bill has a Master’s degree in Addiction Studies and has worked full time in the addictions field since 1969 as a streetworker, counselor, clinical director, researcher and well-traveled trainer and consultant. He has authored or co-authored more than 400 articles, monographs, research reports and book chapters and 17 books. His book, Slaying the Dragon – The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America, received the McGovern Family Foundation Award for the best book on addiction recovery. Bill’s sustained contributions to the field have been acknowledged by awards from the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, NAADAC: The Association of Addiction Professionals, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the Native American Wellbriety Movement. Bill’s widely read papers on recovery advocacy have been published by the Johnson Institute in a book entitled Let’s Go Make Some History: Chronicles of the New Addiction Recovery Advocacy Movement.



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Seeing Yourself Sober

Benefits of developing a strong mental image of yourself as a non-drinker

Pete Soderman, author of Powerless No Longer

A few years ago, when I decided to quit smoking following a major heart attack, one of the techniques that made it easier was seeing myself as a nonsmoker. I visualized a person with fresh breath, no little holes in his shirt, no nicotine stains on his fingers, and no pack of smokes in his pocket. A person who could answer the phone, read the paper in the morning, have a cup of coffee, deal with stress, and socialize, all without having a cigarette constantly burning nearby. Not just any person either, it had to be myself in a new role.

To some extent, I used the same technique years before when I quit drinking, but not as consciously as I did with smoking. With drinking, I had to first convince myself that there even was a life without alcohol before I could see myself in it. Once I decided there was, I could imagine myself in all sorts of situations, even attending my daughter’s wedding, without a drink.

Let me make something clear at the beginning. I’m not talking about the “Think and Grow Rich,” “Power of Positive Thinking,” or “The Secret” thing here. What I’m talking about has nothing to do with quantum entanglement, spooky action at a distance, collapsing wave functions, or the “energy field” in the universe. If you’re into that kind of thing, you can find plenty of it elsewhere.

Instead, I’m talking about a way to help you change your way of thinking by making it easier to identify and dispute your irrational beliefs. Let me explain.

First, what do I mean by “visualizing yourself as a non-drinker?” Whether we like it or not, we carry around a mental picture of ourselves most of the time. While we are in the early stages of sobriety, we are still picturing ourselves as that confident person at the cocktail party, pouring out witticisms and engaging in scintillating conversations. That might have been true when we first arrived at the party, but it’s a far cry from the person who stumbled out the door when it was over. I don’t know about you, but the guys in our circle of friends when I was drinking, somewhat resented it when I stopped. You see, I was the guy they pointed to when their wives criticized their behavior. “Yeah, but I wasn’t as bad as Pete,” they would say in their own defense.

How about picturing yourself as that confident person at the cocktail party, but with a soft drink, or a club soda, instead of alcohol? How about picturing yourself as a person that people seek-out at a gathering, rather than someone they avoid like the plague. Picture someone who conducts themselves properly, rather than someone who insults the host, spills drinks on the carpet, and hits on the hostess. Picture yourself going through life as the person you are, rather than the person you became when you were drinking. Picture yourself as a person who works through their problems, and deals with stress, rather than one who avoids, postpones, and makes things worse by retreating into an alcoholic haze.

If you can keep that mental picture before you, it makes it easier to dispute some of your irrational beliefs. If you recall, the three questions we use to challenge our beliefs are:

  1. Is my belief based upon fact – would a camera recording the scene see it the same way my thoughts reflect it?
  2. Does my belief help me achieve my short and long-term goals?
  3. Does my belief help me feel the way I want to feel?

If the answer to any of those questions is no, the belief is probably irrational. Now, look at question #2. Whether or not you realize it, by creating a mental picture of yourself as a non-drinker, you have set a goal – something to shoot for, a person you wish to become. If the belief that you are evaluating is one that produces a feeling that leads you to consider drinking, that belief is contrary to the goal you now have in your mind, reinforced by the mental image you have created.

Staying sober is a mind game. You against your learned habit. Your opponent is composed of strongly encoded neural pathways that you can overcome only by encoding new pathways. A strong mental image of yourself as a non-drinker is another tool you can use to help you encode new, healthier pathways, thereby developing new habits. Drinking or using after a period of abstinence is a choice—always. Questioning our belief systems is about making different and healthier choices.


The forgoing is an excerpt from the book “Powerless No Longer” by Pete Soderman, and is the property of the author.

About The Author:
 Pete Soderman is a SMART Meeting Facilitator who co-founded a SMART meeting in Wilmington, NC with Mike Werner, and is currently facilitating a SMART meeting in Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico. He is the author of Powerless No Longer , a book about self-empowered addiction recovery. He also publishes a blog with a focus on how to empower your mind to overcome self-defeating behaviors.




Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Carl Rogers on “The” Model

By Ted Alston, Volunteer Meeting Facilitator

In 2005, William White and Martin Nicolaus wrote that SMART Recovery and other secular recovery groups “were influenced by the work of Carl Rogers and Albert Ellis”1. Ellis gave us the ABC Model and other tools. The influence of Rogers is less direct. I find the writings of Rogers to be tough reads. However, the following quote is clear and may be of interest to students of SMART2.

“We regard the medical model as an extremely inappropriate model for dealing with psychological disturbances. The model that makes more sense is a growth model or a developmental model. In other words we see people as having a potential for growth and development and that can be released under the right psychological climate. We don’t see them as sick and needing a diagnosis, a prescription and a cure; and that is a very fundamental difference with a good many implications” — Carl Rogers, 1978

SMART has no position on the so-called medical model, and Rogers did not find that model necessary. Furthermore, he cautioned against labels.

At different times, Ellis and Rogers were individually recognized as the Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association. From the photos, it is hard to say which psychologist sported the pointiest shirt collar.

1 White W, Nicolaus M. Styles of secular recovery. Counselor 2005;6(4):58-61.
2 The quote is from an interview and was selected by editor David Webb for the preface to Significant Aspects of Client-Centered Therapy, Psychology Classics, Carl Rogers.
Details of the interview are at