DISARMing Addiction: Your Weapon Against Urges and Cravings
Recovery from addiction is often visualized as a battlefield where one's inner demons are the foe. These inner enemies come armed with deceptive allure, masquerading as friends or saviors, promising relief, pleasure, or escape. But, as anyone on the journey to recovery knows, yielding to these false promises leads only to more suffering. SMART Recovery arms individuals in this battle with an arsenal of tools, one of the most potent being DISARM - Destructive Images and Self-talk Awareness and Refusal Method
DISARM is a crucial component of the SMART Recovery program, enabling individuals to combat one of the most challenging aspects of recovery: the powerful urges and cravings that drive addictive behavior. This method involves a two-step process: first, becoming aware of the destructive images and self-talk that feed these urges, and second, refusing and replacing them with constructive, realistic thoughts and images.
- Awareness: Seeing Through the Enemy's Disguise
Addictive urges often present themselves through inner voices and images that make substance use or harmful behavior seem appealing, necessary, or inevitable. These can be thoughts like "I need this to relax," "I can't have fun without it," or "Just one more time won't hurt." DISARM requires us to recognize these thoughts and images for what they are: deceptive enemy tactics aimed at dragging us back into the cycle of addiction.
This step requires mindfulness and honesty. It's about being present in the moment, acknowledging these thoughts and images without judgment, and understanding their true destructive nature.
- Refusal: Developing Your Counterattack
Once these destructive thoughts and images are recognized, the next step is to refuse them. This refusal isn't merely about saying "no," but it's about countering these deceptive messages with the truth about the substance or behavior and its consequences.
If the inner voice says, "It will make you feel better," your refusal may remind you of the aftermath of indulgence, the shame, the health problems, or the broken relationships. If it says, "You can't have fun without it," remind yourself of the genuine, fulfilling joy experienced in moments of true connection and clarity—moments untainted by the haze of addiction.
Personifying the Enemy: Naming the Addictive Voice
A transformative strategy in the DISARM process is personifying your addictive voice — giving it a name like "the salesman," "thief," "jerk," or "devil." This technique allows you to externalize the addiction, making it something outside of yourself, an entity that doesn't speak for you, but rather seeks to harm you.
Why is this helpful? By naming the addictive voice, you create a psychological separation: "This is not me. This is [the salesman] trying to trick me." It helps in recognizing that these urges are not integral parts of your character and don't align with your true goals and values. This separation weakens the hold these destructive thoughts might have on you and enhances your ability to dispute and refuse them with logic and reason. It's easier to say no to "the thief" trying to steal your happiness than to a vague feeling that seems to originate from within yourself.
Staying Armed with DISARM
Like any other skill, using DISARM effectively takes practice. It involves a continuous process of self-evaluation, reflection, and reinforcement of positive self-talk. Journaling these deceptive thoughts/images and their realistic counterarguments can be incredibly beneficial. It not only tracks your progress but also serves as a tangible reminder of your strength whenever you're faced with future urges.
Moreover, the community aspect of SMART Recovery can be instrumental in fortifying your DISARM strategy. Sharing your experiences with others can provide new insights and strategies that you hadn't considered, and hearing others' stories of successful DISARM application can be incredibly motivating.
Conclusion: Your Ever-Ready Weapon
Remember, the journey to recovery isn't about being free from urges but about being equipped to combat them effectively. DISARM isn't a one-time tool; it's a weapon that needs to be kept sharp through consistent application and community support. In the heat of battle, it's your ready defender, empowering you to see through the enemy's disguise and stand strong in your truth. With DISARM, you're not just surviving the battle against addiction; you're mastering it.
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.