This post is the first of the “New Era” of this website. I recently gave a talk at a gathering here in Ajijic outlining my plans for a new book, “Recovering in Chaos,” and a podcast of the same name. Below is the text of that talk in its entirety, making this a much longer post than usual. Sorry for that, but here are the reasons that I see for writing the book and doing the podcast.
I wrote Powerless No Longer because I couldn’t not write it. I saw a need to do what I could to spread the word about cognitive recovery in an environment that at the time was overtly hostile to the idea that there might be a better way to approach addiction than the traditional 12-step modality. Today, most of that hostility has dissipated, at least in the professional community, primarily due to hundreds of studies done in the last five years demonstrating the efficacy of cognitive tools.
One result of this is the exponential growth of SMART Recovery, the leading self-help group using evidence-based methodologies. When I became involved with SMART in 2006, there were perhaps 200 meetings in the US and Canada, period. Today, the story is a little different. There are now 2,500 meetings on six continents, and over a hundred scientific peer reviewed papers on various aspects of the SMART program.
This growth is due to several factors, one of the important ones being the acceptance of cognitive methods in the battle against addiction by the professional community, but one of the primary drivers has been the surge in the need for recovery programs of all types due to the significant recent uptick in overdoses and addictive problems in general.
The tentative title of my new book and podcast is Recovering in Chaos. First I’ll explain why I chose the title, then I’m going to try and make the case that the exploding addiction and overdose problems in the US aren’t totally due to the factors we’re told they are. Lastly, I’ll talk about potential solutions, but unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about the possibilities.Continue reading
Three years have passed since the publication of Powerless No Longer, and it’s time to make some long-overdue changes. Despite my best efforts to keep the book a secret, it continues to sell. Each and every month I’m amazed by the number of copies that are purchased all over the world, in either electronic, hard copy, or audio format.
A lot of this has been due to the decision by SMART Recovery® to place the book on its “recommended reading list,” and it’s a good thing they did because that’s about all the marketing it has been subject to. That is going to change, beginning now.Continue reading
Researchers estimate that that 90% of those who recover from addictive behavior experience at least one relapse along the way. We can increase the odds in our favor through awareness of the warning signs, along with the process of examining the underlying beliefs. In 1982, two researchers, Terence T. Gorski, and Marlene Miller, identified a set of warning signs that typically lead to relapse. Further research has validated these changes in attitudes and behaviors, and proven they are accurate predictors. As you read this list, realize these changes occur gradually. Recognizing them early in the cycle will allow you to see beneath the behaviors, and modify the beliefs that drive them.
“Listen closely to yourself and dispute the thoughts that don’t serve you—even if those thoughts are true…. For example, you might think, ‘Writing a novel is hard. Selling a novel is hard.’ Yes, both thoughts are true, but they don’t serve you. The only thought that serves you is, I’m off to write a novel!” (emphasis mine)
We are used to practicing REBT to help us dispute and change our irrational belief systems. The paragraph above jumped out at me because I think we forget sometimes that the beliefs that keep us chained to our addictive behaviors, can actually be true, as in the example above. Of the three main tests that we apply to our beliefs, only one of them has to do with the belief being true or false. To review the tests, they are:
If the belief fails any one of these tests, we should dispute it. In the example above, the writer should dispute the beliefs because they conflict with the goal of finishing a novel. I think that oftentimes we concentrate upon the first test, the “truth” test, and forget that even “true” beliefs can fail to pass one or both of the last two tests. Remember that the goal of the REBT process is to help us deal with life’s problems without resorting to our self-defeating addictive behaviors, and sometimes these behaviors are driven by our belief that the problems we’re facing are insurmountable, when the truth is they are not. Yes, it is hard to write a novel, and it’s also hard to change our behaviors, but that’s no reason to stop trying and give up.