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
Kenneth Anderson, the Executive Director of HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol, will be interviewing me on his Blogtalk Radio site at 8 PM Eastern tonight. The subject matter will be my book, Powerless No Longer. If that time is inconvenient, I will post a link to the podcast here tomorrow.
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
In February, I had the opportunity to address a group here in Ajijic on the topic of neuroplasticity, and how it applies to addiction and an ageing population. The video is in three segments, and totals about 40 minutes in length. The talk was given on the 19th of February, following three weeks that were unseasonably chilly here, and we even had a little rain, if anyone is curious about the references to the weather in the first part of the talk.
The venue was our Sunday morning “Open Circle” gathering. Each week we have a speaker on a different topic, typically someone local with specialized expertise in a certain area. They let me speak anyway, and, in fact, they let me come back on April 22nd to talk about Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, which I’ll be posting here in a week or so.
Enjoy the video! When you reach the end of the first segment, click on the little white box to start the second segment. Rinse, repeat.