Category Archives for Recovery

Determining Your Values

This simple little exercise takes no special training or skills. On a clean sheet of paper, write down the values that are important to you. Don’t try to put them in any particular order, just write them down as you think of them.

They could be groups of people, like friends and/or family. They could be traits like loyalty, honesty, or professionalism. Whatever they are, they’re yours, and there are no right or wrong answers, so write them all down.

When you’re done with your list, and it can be as short or comprehensive as you like, make a short list of the five values, from those on your list, that are the most important to you. Again, write them down in no particular order.Continue reading

What Works

No one group, method, or approach works for everyone. There are, however, a great many studies that have been done concerning what methods and programs actually work in overcoming addictive behavior. If I was starting from scratch, I would have to cite hundreds and hundreds of studies, weight them, and find some format to present the results so that they would make sense to you. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that, as it has already been done for me.

Psychologists at the University of New Mexico, led by Dr. William Miller, tabulated every controlled study of alcoholism treatment they could find. They weighted each study based upon the quality of its research methodology, to arrive at a comprehensive list, which they first published in book form in 1995, and have continually updated since. The book is called Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives.

Notice that these studies specifically addressed addiction to alcohol, not any other drugs or behaviors. As I have mentioned several times in previous chapters, it is the addictive behaviors we are modifying here, and they are virtually identical across the entire range of habits and substances.Continue reading

Self-worth is Not a Variable

Even more important to our emotional health than the language we use to describe everyday situations are the terms we use to characterize the most important person in our lives — ourselves. Every single day, we use words like jerk, dope, fool, moron and even worse to define ourselves. Sometimes we use language like this in our heads, and sometimes say it under our breath or even out loud as though we have sentenced ourselves to ongoing perpetual judgment. The problem is that we create a no-win situation resulting in going through the day with our self-worth rising and falling in relation to how we think our “ideal” self should function. We rate our individual attributes and arbitrary traits, none of which could ever define intrinsic or self-worth, and yet we behave as though they do.

Do you think green is good or bad? You might say something is more or less green, or that green is bad for some purposes, or even that you don’t like green. What you can’t honestly say is that green is intrinsically good or bad. By the same token, we can’t accurately and honestly rate ourselves, our essence as good or bad. We do, though, and cause ourselves great emotional disturbance by doing it.Continue reading

Changing Your Belief System

In this earlier post we discovered how we learn, retain information, and form habits both good and bad. We learned that the brain forms neural networks, based upon our experiences, that these produce thoughts, beliefs, and actions, both healthy and unhealthy, and at times we seem to have little control over them.

Some of our habits and beliefs become really well ingrained from long and frequent usage, and it sometimes seems as though we are powerless to change them. When we combine an intrinsically addictive substance with an unhealthy belief system we have a combination that seems nearly impossible to overcome. People just like us do exactly that, though, as we learned in this post. Perhaps they used the tool I’m about to teach you, but most, like myself, weren’t even aware that it existed.

We are going to be using this tool throughout the rest of the book, so it makes sense to introduce the main points all in one place, so you can refer back to it, if necessary, as you move along. It sounds complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really very simple.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a system of therapy, and a school of thought established by Dr. Albert Ellis in the mid 1950’s. REBT was one of the first cognitive behavior therapies, and one that lends itself well to both professional use and self-help. The basic premise of REBT is that we are not effected emotionally by events themselves, but by how we interpret them based upon our perceptions, attitudes, and the language we use to describe them.Continue reading