Opening Insights: Addiction Realities
Addiction and dependency are the modern-day pandemic - alcohol, drugs, technology, sex, gambling, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, work and the list goes on.... While recovery has always been predominantly focused on the individual suffering from the "disease," it is well known that addiction is a CULTURAL/FAMILY DISEASE.
Addiction is a combination of nature and nurture. While addicts share a common gene deficiency, activation of that gene is conditional on environment factors. Addictions and dependencies occur over time as people learn how to adapt and survive to certain situations and stimuli, however dysfunctional.
Fire and gunpowder do not sleep together.
While individual treatments and interventions may prove beneficial for addicts, the real challenge of long-term sobriety and recovery occurs when people return to their old environments/culture. This is evidenced by the addiction pandemic and high recidivism rate amongst addicts. Additionally, the stress that addiction causes to the community and the family are immense and leave many Loved Ones (LO) feeling helpless and powerless.
When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.
In order to most effectively support recovering addicts, many families, communities and organizations engage in recovery programs to learn how to best support the recovering addict.
Let's explore some recovery answers, before we examine a pathway to recovery resolution.
Informational Insights: SMART vs INTELLIGENT
Before healing others, heal thyself.
SMART Recovery® has gained popularity over the years amongst people seeking alternatives to 12 Step Recovery. Developed by a group of addiction psychologists in 1994, the approach blends behavioral, emotive, cognitive and motivational therapies to provide a somewhat structured and, what they state as, evidence-based approach to addiction recovery for individuals and families.
Points on SMART Recovery®:
- SMART Recovery® provides personal support.1
- Purpose: To help individuals gain independence from addictive behavior and lead meaningful and satisfying lives. To support the availability of choices in recovery.2
- Mission: To offer no-fee, self-empowering, science-based, face-to-face and online support groups for abstaining from any substance or activity addiction.2
- Vision: Think SMART Worldwide!2
- SMART stands for Self-Management And Recovery Training.1
- The name reflects the program's focus on helping people find the power, conviction and tools to abstain completely from harmful addictive behavior.1
- It is a skill-based, self-help program for individuals struggling with dependencies of all kinds. An alternative to 12-step models such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon, SMART Recovery® uses well-established techniques from modern psychology to equip individuals with practical skills and tools.3
- SMART empowers you to develop a path to recovery that works for you — the power of choice.1
- People receive much of this support at free weekly meetings where they share their experiences with others in recovery, drawing upon SMART tools and principles.1
- SMART's 4-Point Program®:
- Building and Maintaining Motivation to abstain completely from any harmful addictive substance or behavior.1
- Coping With Urges to engage in addictive behavior.1
- Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors effectively to avoid unnecessary anxiety and irrational decisions to relapse.1
- Living a Balanced Life as we learn to replace our addictive behavior with health, creative and fulfilling activities.1
- The program recognizes that being in a close relationship with someone struggling with an addiction can be a frustrating, painful and sometimes lonely journey, in which it is easy to lose one's bearings.4
- Provides support and tools for people who are affected by the addictive behavior of someone close to them. The program aims to help participants develop more effective coping strategies and find a greater sense of fulfillment in their own lives.4
- Rather than focusing on their Loved Ones (LO), the SMART Recovery® for Family & Friends (F&F) program invites participants to spend some time concentrating on themselves and their goals, an area they may have been neglecting for some time. This includes looking at some of their habitual responses to their LO, exploring whether these are helpful or not, and providing tools and strategies for making changes.4
- SMART Family & Friends explores ways that participants can look after themselves better, even in difficult and stressful circumstances, and establish healthy relationships with their Loved One.4
SMART Recovery® for Family & Friends offers a Handbook that has two goals:5
- Providing self-management and life-skills tools to those struggling with the challenges of living with, and caring about, a Loved One (LO) who has an addiction;
- Supporting F&F in their goal of interacting with their LOs in ways that would maximize the possibilities that their LOs would choose recovery.
SMART Recovery® for Family & Friends Meeting Guidelines:6
- The focus of SMART Family & Friends is on you and your life, rather than on your Loved One (LO)... we will be inviting you to concentrate on your responses to their behavior.
- Your Loved Ones may be concerned about how you will represent them in this meeting. This meeting is about YOU.... meetings are about how to use SMART tools to manage the SELF.
- The group membership and what is said in the group is to remain confidential.
- Treat other group participants with respect. Although you may not necessarily agree with everything everyone says, they are entitled to their opinion. Try not to label, judge or put down other group participants. This includes your LO, whether or not he or she is present! Try to listen with an open mind. "Respect", "Honest" and "Understanding" are the bywords for this meeting.
- Participate as actively as you like.
- Allow one person to speak at a time.
- Stay focused on SMART Family & Friends.
- The group will start and finish on time.
SMART Recovery® Under the Microscope
While SMART Recovery® appears attractive: FREE, "evidence-based" and supportive, like many recovery programs, it offers part of the solution but not the whole solution (true recovery/resolution)!
- Self-Recovery: recovery is a disease of isolation and spiritual bankruptcy. It is a disease of immaturity. If the immaturity issue is not resolved, true emotional sobriety and recovery is never achieved.
- Self-Management: psychologists treat or train people to manage problems, life and anger, instead of learning how to deal with life on life's terms. This system only serves to perpetuate emotional immaturity.
- FREE and non-membership approach: this feature could be seen as beneficial, however, without some form of buy-in, in this day and age it is questionable whether true commitment, participation, contribution and investment will occur.
- Evidence-based: many behavior and cognitive therapies, techniques and tools claim to be "evidence-based" and scientifically proven. While they may have been proven in randomized and controlled studies, the reality is that they provide poor applications to measure short and long-term progress, sentience awareness and application development.
- The Whole Problem, Full Resolution: there are many human dimensions to consider when communicating, engaging and helping people. Hence focusing on a behavioral, emotive and cognitive approach does little to incorporate all the problems of the learned conditioning of the "Shadow Culture," such as:
- Control Issues
- Personality Disorders
- Spiritual Bankruptcy
- Cultural Immaturity
- Emotional Immaturity
- Traumatic Past Experiences
- Additions and Dependencies
When we fail to solve the whole problem, we don't find resolution. Thus, while people may achieve abstinence in recovery programs, long-term recovery is a challenge. If you sober up a horse thief, all you will get is a sober horse thief.
True Intelligent Sobriety
Is sobriety all that we are to expect of a spiritual awakening? No, sobriety is only a bare beginning; it is only the first gift of the first awakening. If more gifts are to be received, our awakening has to go on. As it does go on, we find that bit by bit we can discard the old life - the one that did not work - for a new life that can and does work under any conditions whatever.
Traditional and current recovery programs fall short in their ability to effectively provide a readiness for change, while supporting ALL 5 dimensions of recovery. Recovery programs like SMART Recovery®, Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Group Therapy and Cognitive Therapy, for example, provide people an understanding of the physical (behavioral, emotional and thinking) elements of their recovery or that of a LO. However, they fail to educate and provide people with a holistic understanding of not WHAT to do (behave, feel and think), but rather HOW to support and find resolution for addiction in ALL the dimensions of recovery:
Without an understanding of how to create and support an environment of the 5 Dimensions of Recovery, true long-term recovery is a struggle and the recovering addict will, like many, remain in between two worlds: one within their everyday life and another within their recovery community.
He who hunts two rats catches none.
Living in two worlds, with two contradictory value systems results in stress and conflict - like oil and water, they don't mix. When addicts try to manage and adapt to multiple worlds, like the proverb above says, attempting to "hunt two rats, but catch none," they never truly experience consistency in their recovery - never truly practice the principles in all of their affairs.
 SMART Recovery Family & Friends Handbook: For people affected by the addictive behavior of a loved one. Kindle Edition, Location 54
 SMART Recovery Family & Friends Handbook: For people affected by the addictive behavior of a loved one. Kindle Edition, Location 65
 SMART Recovery Family & Friends Handbook: For people affected by the addictive behavior of a loved one. Kindle Edition, Location 91
 SMART Recovery Family & Friends Handbook: For people affected by the addictive behavior of a loved one. Kindle Edition, Location 104-105
Possibilities for Consideration: The Power of Inclusion
Addiction is not a disease that simply goes away with a pill or a holiday. It is a learned behavior that is a result of a conflict within our belief and value systems. It affects and infects the way we perceive the world, experience the world (attitude), think, feel and act. In order to achieve true long-term sobriety we need an approach that is inclusive of ALL 5 Dimensions of Long-Term Recovery.
When this is in place, recovery is believable and achievable for not just the recovering addict, but their community, family and culture.
- What if you could be a part of a movement to empower yourself and others in your position?
- What if you could be a part of a movement to unite families and communities in the fight against addiction?
- What if you could be a part of bringing addiction intervention, treatment and prevention to businesses, organizations and schools around the world?
- What if you could be a part of securing & ensuring the resolution not only for your Loved One(s), but for others suffering and looking for solutions to the addiction pandemic?
Add Your Insight: Collaborative Recovery - Better Together
Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you.