Conquering Addictive Behaviors: The Power of the DEADs Tool in SMART Recovery
In the journey toward recovery from addictive behaviors, individuals often encounter moments of intense urges or cravings that can jeopardize their progress. SMART Recovery, a program that supports individuals in overcoming addictive behaviors through self-empowerment and self-reliance, offers a potent tool known as "DEADs" to effectively manage these urges. This article delves into the DEADs tool, elucidating its components and illustrating its critical role in the path to recovery.
DEADs is an acronym that stands for "Deny," "Escape," "Accept," and "Dispute." This tool is designed to equip individuals with strategies to combat the immediate demands of addictive urges, providing practical steps to diminish their power and influence.
The first step involves denying the urge the attention it craves and the power it holds. By refusing to negotiate or engage with the urge, individuals can prevent it from growing stronger. Denying doesn't mean ignoring the urge completely; rather, it's about not giving it the focus that it demands. Techniques can include engaging in a distracting activity or mentally commanding the urge to stop.
Sometimes, the most effective way to deal with an urge is to physically remove oneself from the triggering situation or environment. Escape can mean leaving a place, a conversation, or even a particular social setting that exacerbates the urge. By doing so, individuals can significantly reduce the urge's intensity and influence.
Acceptance involves acknowledging the presence of the urge without judgment or immediate reaction. Through acceptance, individuals learn that urges are a normal part of the recovery process and that they can be experienced without succumbing to them. Techniques such as mindfulness and meditation can facilitate this acceptance, helping individuals to observe their urges as transient thoughts that do not necessitate action.
The final component, disputing, entails challenging the irrational beliefs and thoughts that often accompany urges. By disputing these thoughts, individuals can weaken the urge's perceived importance and inevitability. This step often involves a rational and logical evaluation of the consequences of giving in to an urge, thereby helping to realign focus with long-term recovery goals.
The Role of DEADs in Recovery
The DEADs tool is instrumental in helping individuals navigate the often unpredictable nature of urges experienced during recovery. By offering a structured approach to understanding and responding to these intense feelings, DEADs empowers individuals to take control of their reactions and decisions. It's not about eradicating urges completely; rather, it's about developing a healthy, sustainable way to manage them.
Recovery from addictive behaviors is a journey fraught with challenges, but with tools like DEADs, individuals are better prepared to face these hurdles. DEADs doesn’t just offer a temporary reprieve from urges; it instills a lasting skill set that individuals can rely on throughout their recovery journey. By denying the urge power, escaping triggering situations, accepting the urge without judgment, and disputing irrational beliefs, individuals can reclaim control of their lives and continue steadfastly on their path to recovery. The strength of SMART Recovery lies in these practical, science-based tools, designed to foster self-empowerment and independence in the face of addiction.
The ABC Model is a good way of understanding how we can help change our feelings and behaviour by challenging our thinking.
When to Use This Tool
The ABC Model is a good way of understanding how we can help change our feelings and behaviour by challenging our thinking. It helps us uncover beliefs that are not helping us /contributing to the behaviour we are trying to change.
This exercise may be done in the group setting but can also be very useful for participants to look at between meetings.
How To Use This Tool
When working with urges: To analyze a lapse/relapse or to develop coping statements for an anticipated lapse/relapse.
In the event of a lapse, the question to ask is not “What made me do that”, but rather, “How did I talk myself into it?” It is not the urge (A) that causes the lapse (C). It is our beliefs (B); our irrational self-talk.
With emotional upset:
The ABC Model can also be used to work with emotional upset or frustrations that may occur at any point in the recovery journey. The ABCs allow us to discover our unhelpful beliefs which contribute to emotional upsets. Disputing helps us eliminate our irrational thinking so we can both feel better and do better. In SMART Recovery we teach that we feel the way we think; it’s not unpleasant events that disturb us, it’s the way we think of them. By changing our thinking, we change how we feel.
Identifying and Disputing Unhelpful Thinking.
Disputing is a process of challenging the way we think about situations. It’s about trying to look at thoughts more accurately. Disputing unhelpful thinking can help us make more informed decisions about thoughts instead of just acting on them. Balanced thinking leads to effective new beliefs.