4 Reasons to Try SMART Recovery If 12 Step Meetings Aren’t Your Thing

Today we are highlighting treatment resources for substance abuse and addictions. While the general public may be aware of Twelve Step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), there are other alternatives. SMART Recovery® is one such organization that is gaining popularity.

This is taken directly from their website:

SMART Recovery® is the leading self-empowering addiction recovery support group. Our participants learn tools for addiction recovery based on the latest scientific research and participate in a world-wide community which includes free, self-empowering, science-based mutual help groups.

The SMART Recovery® 4-Point Program® helps people recover from all types of addiction and addictive behaviors, including: drug abuse, drug addiction, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, prescription drug abuse, sexual addiction, and problem addiction to other substances and activities. SMART Recovery® sponsors face-to-face meetings around the world, and daily online meetings. In addition, our online message board and 24/7 chat room are excellent forums to learn about SMART Recovery® and obtain addiction recovery support. If you’re new to SMART Recovery®, get started with our introduction here.”

As someone who has been to literally hundreds of NA meetings over the past ten years but who is also a trained mental health counselor, SMART Recovery® appeals to me in ways that NA does not. For the record, if NA or AA work for you, then by all means keep doing it. But for me, some of the ideals that NA holds sacred are the ones that I find most difficult to accept as a practicing clinician. Here are 4 ways that SMART Recovery® is different:

1. It’s okay to have a mental illness.

When I was new to recovery, I just assumed that everybody who was in recovery also had a mental illness. This is called dual-diagnosis – basically, you are an addict AND you suffer from something like depression, anxiety, or bipolar. I was surprised to learn that this wasn’t the case. It’s probably a matter for debate, but I knew any number of recovering addicts who claimed that they had never experienced any mental health issues – aside from the addiction, of course, which invariably had ruined their lives. Moreover, I soon found that those addicts who did suffer from a mental illness were reluctant to admit it in the rooms. You would certainly talk about it with your sponsor, but these kinds of topics were considered controversial in a general meeting.

I never could understand why that seemed to be the case. I suspect it has something to do with NA’s belief in a Higher Power and the power of The Program. The idea is, if you’re working the program the way you should, your sanity should be restored and you get to be a productive member of society. Extremists in the groups would inevitably claim that you were not working the program to the best of your ability if you were still depressed or manic any of the other things that come with a mental illness. I suppose this is true for some, but it was certainly not the case for me.

SMART Recovery®, on the other hand, completely recognizes mental illness as a real thing, sometimes separate from the addiction but often times linked. They acknowledge “possible psychological factors” and members are treated accordingly. This just makes sense to me.

2. They support evidence based use of psychological treatments and the legal use of prescribed psychiatric medication.

This might be the single biggest difference between SMART Recovery® and NA. Both NA and AA make a point of separating themselves from “professional services.” It’s even against their guidelines to have trained clinicians involved in meetings. NA, for example, believes that “the therapeutic benefit of one addict helping another is without parallel.” That sounds great, and for many it’s true. Except when you think about it, you’re talking about one sick person, with no training, helping another sick person. Admittedly, this does work for many, but why is it a bad idea to use evidence based therapy or even prescribed medications in the fight against addiction and co-occurring mental illness? Many members of NA despise the very idea of medication, for any reason. Some would go as far as to say you are not working an honest program if you are using any drug, prescribed or otherwise. total abstinence from everything.

While it is perhaps not a good idea for a recovering heroin user to take narcotic pain killers when Advil would do, this belief gets a bit more murky when you start looking at mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. These are conditions which can absolutely be managed with medication and therapy, bu the bottom line is that some schizophrenics are completely unable to function without their medication. In an example like this, abstinence from all substances seems like a horrible idea. I attended NA meetings for years, and was under a doctor’s care the entire time for both severe anxiety and depression. I was prescribed medication for both. I told exactly zero people in NA about that part of my life. Not because I was ashamed, but because I didn’t want to be accused of “relapsing” when all I was doing was taking legally prescribed medications. This ended up being a major reason I eventually stopped attending meetings. Even as a licensed counselor, I’m hesitant to talk with people about psychotropic medications, as I’m not a medical doctor. I simply don’t think it’s a good idea to have completely untrained people give medical advice about anything. But that’s unfortunately what sometimes happens in the rooms of NA.

3. NA sees addiction an simple; SMART Recovery recognizes its complexity.

NA touts it’s program as a simple program for complicated people. That sounds like a great idea. Except that addiction is a complicated disease that gets further complicated when you try to oversimplify it.

Consider the following: Not all addicts are built the same way. I know many addicts in recovery who claim they can get addicted to anything – heroin, crack, sex, soap operas, you name it. I know others who had their one drug of choice and who never really had problems with anything else. I was one of those types of addicts. I had what can best be described as a psychological addiction to marijuana. In my past, I’ve tried many other drugs. None of them really interested me. To this day, I have a beer occasionally, but I can’t remember the last time I ever got drunk. I’ve also never been arrested or in trouble with the law, which for many addicts is the norm. All I’m saying is that we are not all alike. SMART Recovery® recognizes this. SMART Recovery® accepts that this is a complicated, multi-faceted disease. Some addicts require medication; some don’t. Some addicts require hospitalization; some don’t. Some addicts need therapy; others need accountability, direction, structure, or all of these things, or none.

4. SMART Recovery is based on science, not spirituality.

The following is taken from the SMART Recovery® FAQ section: SMART Recovery® has a scientific foundation, not a spiritual one. SMART Recovery® teaches increasing self-reliance, rather than powerlessness. SMART Recovery® meetings are discussion meetings in which individuals talk with one another, rather than to one another. SMART Recovery® encourages attendance for months to years, but probably not a lifetime. There are no sponsors in SMART Recovery®. SMART Recovery® discourages use of labels such as “alcoholic” or “addict.”

If you’ve never been to a 12 Step meeting, the differences might not be obvious to you. But the differences are profound. At an NA meeting, if I speak, I’m supposed to say “Hi my name is Randy, and I’m an addict.” It’s weird if you don’t. NA’s position is that we have to accept who we are, and I do agree with that. But is it possible that we can change? I think it is. But if I went to an NA meeting and said “Hi my name is Randy and I used to be an addict,” rest assured there would be drama.

Furthermore, the basic assumption with NA (and AA, for that matter) is that you attend those meetings FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Even if that is the right thing to do, how realistic do you suppose that is? Certainly some people do end up doing this, as addicts have a bad habit of dying young. SMART Recovery® on the other hand recognizes that at some point treatment has to stop. It’s just the way things are. Professional counseling these days is centered around brief therapies that are really not supposed to last for more than six months. If you’re seeing the same therapist five years later, you really have to ask yourself if any work is actually being done. Wouldn’t the same thing be true with NA?

Finally, powerlessness was an issue that I always had with NA. It’s also a HUGE part of their philosophy. We have to admit that we are powerless. Only then can we admit we need help. That’s true, but the problem is that people tend to use powerlessness as an excuse for all sorts of things. SMART Recovery® advocates self-reliance, which is the cornerstone of any modern treatment modality. If we are to get better, we will need to lean on others at first, but eventually, we are going to have to lead our own lives. In addition to this being a more realistic way of looking at things, it also has the benefit of being tue.

If you have found success in the rooms of NA or AA, then by all means, I want to encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. It’s obviously working for you, so why change it? But if you are like me, and parts of NA or AA just don’t sit well with you, or you prefer a more scientifically-based approach to substance abuse treatment, check out SMART Recovery®. It’s free, they offer meetings both online and in person, and they even have an online chat feature if you have any questions or concerns. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, use whatever tools you have to fight this cunning and elusive disease. Check out SMART Recovery®.

Incipio Smart Feather Case – Best Smart Cover Compatible Cases for iPad 2

While Apple’s cover is a must-have for your iPad 2, not only because it puts your device to sleep when not in use to help preserve the battery, but because of its ability to clean and protect your iPad 2. While the Smart Cover does a great job, the only part of your iPad 2 that is protected is the screen. What you need is more protection for your entire iPad 2. Who wants dents, scratches, dirt and dust to find their way to your device? If you are looking for a great protective case that is compatible with your Smart Cover, then consider the Incipio Smart Feather Case for iPad 2.

By choosing the Smart Feather case, you can achieve a look of sleek and sexy versus big and bulky, with the assurance of dual protection from both the Smart Cover and case. The case protects the intricacies of your iPad 2, while the Smart Cover does its job to protect your screen.

Because the custom-designed Smart Feather is made to fit all the contours of the iPad 2, you’re guaranteed a snug and strong hold. The Smart Cover magnets adhere to the iPad 2 near each of the two side corners, and the Smart Feather in turn fits to the Smart Cover’s magnetic anchor and clasps, matching its magnetic hold with nothing to block the connection. This double magnetic adhering system gives you a practically unbreakable connection between case and cover.

The Smart Feather covers the hinges of the other cover, so remember this when removing your iPad 2 from the case in order to be able to remove your cover properly.

As for the design of the Smart Feather case itself, the slick design measures less than 1 mm thick and weighs right around 2 ounces. It is constructed of a hard shell polycarbonate material that is rigid with a slight flex. The outer shell, while being form-fitting and protective, offers a soft touch matte finish, giving the case a smooth feel. The polymer coating provides durability and protection from dents and scratches.

The perfectly placed custom-cut holes allow full access to your iPad 2’s camera lens connection and it even works so well with the Smart Cover that you can leave the cover on when you use the iPad 2 dock! Now that is a custom fit of two products that truly complement and support each other.

This is the ultimate case if you are after a clean and simple look. When you coordinate colors of the Smart Cover and case, you can achieve a seamless all-in-one case look.

You will turn heads with the combination of style and practicality you will get when you pair the Smart Cover with Smart Feather case for your iPad 2.

Smart ForUs – Another Unintelligent Concept?

Embracing a never-say-die business strategy and attitude with regards to the smart fortwo brand, smart GmbH a division of Daimler is once again displaying yet another smart concept vehicle. For those who have followed the smart car brand, know smart GmbH is the smart fortwo’s manufacturer. This time around, they’ve revealed the worlds very first eco-friendly pickup truck – the electric powered smart For-Us concept motor vehicle.

This is a tiny mini-micro truck follows in the smart fortwo tradition and designed to carry two-passengers. However, it is substantially larger than the company’s mainstay – the smart fortwo coupe. The increased bulk makes the For-Us approximately three feet longer, rendering it just a few inches short of a Mini Cooper. Additionally, the pickup bed of the For-Us is sized and setup to transport 2 all-new smart electric bikes, while being able to charge them – on the move. This makes the For-Us much like the Geely IC current model.

The quirky and appealing smart For-Us utilizes the identical lithium-ion battery along with the same electric drive in the smart ED electric-powered car due this spring.

But the question about this smart offer is becoming a recurring concern – Is this one more terrific smart concept car that will never make it to the street?

smart GmbH has produced or attempted manufacturing no fewer than 8 distinct models. These have consisted of the smart crossblade, forfour, Roadster as well as the 4-door forfour. None of these models is manufactured any longer and can only be assessed as total financial calamities.

Additionally, there were the engaging concepts of the smart concept vehicles. Beginning with the crosstown, the formore SUV, forvision, and finally the ForspeED. All came and exited without a plan for implementation or success. As a result, all must be considered as failed attempts for the automaker to grow and diversify.

The core auto for smart, has always been the original fortwo design. We believe, like the majority practical consumers – why not get the first one right? It would then be possible to proceed to greater and improved models.

Mercedes-Benz USA is now in charge of sales and service for the fortwo in the USA. Plans were for a re-launch of the smart car U.S. with potent marketing campaigns behind it. However, it appears the company is providing us with yet another reproof concept flop which was displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit called the For-Us.

Mercedes-Benz (Daimler) is coming off its best year in the past decade, but their smart GmbH division remains a challenge – The initial smart car was manufactured and sold nearly 13-years ago.

Even diehard smart followers are confused about the future of smart. Lots of people are beginning to question exactly how “smart” the smart car is, and how creative will Mercedes-Benz USA marketing get in promoting this model entry? Will they finally put the appropriate amount of marketing muscle and dollars behind the line to make it a success?

Busting the Smart Car Safety Myth – Two Reasons Smart Cars Are Safer Than You Think

One of the first reactions every smart car owner gets from people who see the tiny car on the street is, “How safe is it?” It’s a reasonable question; after all, the smart fortwo car is what is known as a micro mini car. In fact, it is just a bit over half the size of the ultra small BMW Mini Cooper. It’s also about half the weight of the Mini Cooper.

So that might lead anyone to believe it couldn’t possibly be safe, especially in the U.S., where our roads and highways are dominated by pickup trucks and SUVs. But actually, nothing could be further from the truth… the smart car is extremely safe, and here is why that particular myth is just wrong.

When Mercedes Benz first designed this car for the United States, safety was their driving concern. They knew Americans would never buy such a small car without a stellar safety record. Safety is built into every aspect of the smart car design, and all of the safety features are available as standard items, not as upgrades, as they often are in larger vehicles.

Smart car safety design is structured around two things: protection and control.

1. Smart For Two Cars Offer Superior Protection.

The foundation of protection in the smart fortwo car is the “tridion safety cell”, a sort of steel roll cage that surrounds both driver and passenger. In smart car crash tests, the tridion safety cell held up even at impacts of 70 miles per hour. In addition to the safety cell, there are also side braces for each door.

Secondly, there are 4 air bags built into the smart fortwo, one on each side and two in the front. High-mounted, safety-designed bucket seats have built-in headrests to protect your head and neck during a collision and integrated seatbelts containing belt tensioner and belt-force limiter technology.

A wheel-absorbing impact design assists with smart safety during a front or read end collision. Front and rear bumpers provide further protection in such accidents. In addition, the steering column collapses during crashes to protect the driver from injury.

2. Smart Cars Also Provide Safety Through Top-Notch Driver Control.

As if all those protective safety features weren’t enough to convince you that these cars are safe on the road, Mercedes also built in a number of control features to enhance safety even further.

An anti-lock braking system, which protects against swerving, assists you with added force where needed and even enables stability on slippery surfaces, makes the driver’s job dead easy. There is also a hill start assist to prevent you from rolling backwards when starting up on a hill and a traction control system to help with safety on wet roads.

In summary, smart car safety is assured. Even independent testing authorities agree that this car is safe. The smart fortwo car earned the highest front and side crashworthiness ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It also received high marks in crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), including a top five-star crash test rating for side impact protection and roof strength.

Mercedes believes in the safety of their U.S. version of the small car so much that they created a whole website about it, called SafeAndSmart.com. On that site, you can find not only more technical information about smart car safety, but also dozens of stories submitted by people who survived major accidents in these cars and walked away with no injuries. So don’t believe everything you hear about smart cars being “death traps.” It is just not true.

Smart Phones – Are They Really A Smart Decision

First, there was the standard land line phone system; then came the cell phone – a convenient little portable item that everyone adopted a “must have” attitude toward. Progress didn’t stop there, however. Now, we have the Smart Phone – the answer to the on-the-go lifestyle that demands immediate access to whatever electronic needs that we happen to have, in addition to the ability to phone our family and friends for a chat whenever the whim presents itself.

To be sure, Smart Phones are capable of extraordinary electronic feats, but convenience – especially that of the technological variety – always comes at a cost, and this one comes with quite a hefty one. The bottom line is that, if you plan to buy a Smart Phone, then plan on paying a visit to the loan officer of your local bank on the way to the store. These electronic marvels are designed to bring true computer capability right to the palm of your hand, but most people will have to put some serious thought into the type of financial commitment that they’ll have to make in order to become the proud owner of a brand new bouncing baby Smart Phone.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Smart Phone

Just like anything else, Smart Phones have their bright and dark sides and, depending upon how much you’re willing to compromise, they’ll either be a great investment for you, or not at all worth the money that you’ve invested.

Pros

  • For those who, until now, had been carrying around a mobile phone and PDA, this combines the two into one unit, without losing any of the capability of either format.
  • This is definitely a multi-media friendly device, offering the opportunity to enjoy both audio and video files – or both, if you prefer – without a lot of hoopla.
  • Cell phone software companies have taken quite kindly to the Smart Phone and are fully supportive of it when it comes to developing software that’s compatible with these units – especially those in the game and entertainment industries.
  • If accessories are your thing, then you’ll love the number of add-ons that you can purchase to go with your new Smart Phone – including those which utilize Bluetooth technology.

Cons

  • Unless you have very good vision, you might have trouble reading the screen on the Smart Phone – it’s smaller and the resolution isn’t as sharp as that of a Pocket PC.
  • Text messaging and other text-related capabilities are compromised as a result of the limited text-entry that’s intrinsic to these devices.
  • Unlike the Pocket PC, Smart Phones are missing some applications that are critical to some users. Among these are Microsoft products, such as Pocket Excel and Pocket Word.
  • You may be told that you’ll have nationwide coverage, but the reality is that coverage of that type only includes larger cities with higher populations. As a result, there’s quite a menu of non-service areas.

Smart Phone Features

Much like a mini-computer with telephone capability, these devices are often seen as handy little items for meeting most or all of the needs of those who are on the run, but want to have access to their PC and phone service, regardless of where they roam.

  • Cell phone service is certainly one of the major perks of the Smart Phone – complete with voice mail. Just as in the case of mainstream cell phone varieties, specific service plans can be purchased for these, depending upon your particular needs and preferences.
  • Internet connectivity is also an available Smart Phone feature, allowing you to retrieve wireless e-mail messages and gain access to search engines and other online goodies. Just pop open your flip phone and jump onto the web.
  • If you’re interested in games, the Smart Phone offers those, as well. A variety of computerized games can be played – either online or through special software – just as if you were using your home PC.
  • Office functions, such as certain Windows or other Microsoft programming, are also available, allowing you to create and store files for future use.
  • If you’re bored and have a bit of extra time on your hands, you can even gain access to online movies through the video feature that the Smart Phone has to offer. Or, if you prefer, you can listen to your favorite tunes as a result of the audio features.
  • Photography is also an option when you invest in a Smart Phone. Just as with the mainstream camera phones, these devices offer instant pictures that can be viewed on-screen immediately after they’re snapped. These units, however, are more than just cell phone cameras, so if you’re looking for something more, think “Smart Phone”.

Smart Phone Pricing

Although these have been compared to PDAs on a certain level, Smart Phones are definitely more sophisticated – and more compact. As compensation for these conveniences, however, you must be willing to pay a hefty price. Typically starting at about $600 and ranging into the thousands, Smart Phones may be all the rage, but if you’re planning to buy one simply for the novelty of it all, then you should save your money and stick with something a bit less progressive.

Keep in mind that additional costs will be incurred in order to establish phone service and gain internet connectivity. That equates to the price of the unit plus the additional charges for basic services and any special features that you choose to opt for – all of which can add up to an exorbitant amount of money.

The best way to keep down your expenses is to take the time and effort to do some online research before you make a commitment to buy a Smart Phone or specific service plan that you’ll need in order to fully utilize all of the features that it offers. By simply typing “smart phone comparison” into the keyword area of any major search engine, you’ll have cost and feature comparison information at your fingertips, which will help you to determine which one is right for you – if, indeed, any of them are. Is investing in a Smart Phone a wise decision? Only you can decide.

The Difference Between Being Smart, Educated, and Intelligent

I’ve always been intrigued by the subject of intelligence. As a child my mother would refer to me as “smart,” but I quickly noticed that all parents refer to their children as smart. In time I would discover that all children are not smart, just as all babies are not cute. If that were the case, we’d have a world full of beautiful, smart people – which we don’t.

Some of us are smart; but not as smart as we think, and others are smarter than they seem, which makes me wonder, how do we define smart? What makes one person smarter than another? When do “street smarts” matter more than “book smarts”? Can you be both smart and stupid? Is being smart more of a direct influence of genetics, or one’s environment?

Then there are the issues of education, intelligence and wisdom.

What does it mean to be highly educated? What’s the difference between being highly educated and highly intelligent? Does being highly educated automatically make you highly intelligent? Can one be highly intelligent without being highly educated? Do IQs really mean anything? What makes a person wise? Why is wisdom typically associated with old age?

My desire to seek answers to these questions inspired many hours of intense research which included the reading of 6 books, hundreds of research documents, and countless hours on the Internet; which pales in comparison to the lifetime of studies and research that pioneers in the fields of intelligence and education like Howard Gardner, Richard Sternberg, Linda S. Gottfredson, Thomas Sowell, Alfie Kohn, and Diane F. Halpern whose work is cited in this article.

My goal was simple: Amass, synthesize, and present data on what it means to be smart, educated and intelligent so that it can be understood and used by anyone for their benefit.

PRENATAL CARE

With this in mind, there was not a better (or more appropriate) place to start than at the very beginning of our existence: as a fetus in the womb.

There is mounting evidence that the consumption of food that’s high in iron both before and during pregnancy is critical to building the prenatal brain. Researchers have found a strong association between low iron levels during pregnancy and diminished IQ. Foods rich in iron include lima beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, seafoods, nuts, dried fruits, oatmeal, and fortified cereals.

Children with low iron status in utero (in the uterus) scored lower on every test and had significantly lower language ability, fine-motor skills, and tractability than children with higher prenatal iron levels. In essence, proper prenatal care is critical to the development of cognitive skills.

COGNITIVE SKILLS

Cognitive skills are the basic mental abilities we use to think, study, and learn. They include a wide variety of mental processes used to analyze sounds and images, recall information from memory, make associations between different pieces of information, and maintain concentration on particular tasks. They can be individually identified and measured. Cognitive skill strength and efficiency correlates directly with students’ ease of learning.

DRINKING, PREGNANCY, AND ITS INTELLECTUAL IMPACT

Drinking while pregnant is not smart. In fact, it’s downright stupid.

A study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found that even light to moderate drinking – especially during the second trimester – is associated with lower IQs in offspring at 10 years of age. This result was especially pronounced among African-American rather than Caucasian offspring.

“IQ is a measure of the child’s ability to learn and to survive in his or her environment. It predicts the potential for success in school and in everyday life. Although a small but significant percentage of children are diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) each year, many more children are exposed to alcohol during pregnancy who do not meet criteria for FAS yet experience deficits in growth and cognitive function,” said Jennifer A. Willford, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Paul D. Connor, clinical director of the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington has this to say about the subject:

“There are a number of domains of cognitive functioning that can be impaired even in the face of a relatively normal IQ, including academic achievement (especially arithmetic), adaptive functioning, and executive functions (the ability to problem solve and learn from experiences). Deficits in intellectual, achievement, adaptive, and executive functioning could make it difficult to appropriately manage finances, function independently without assistance, and understand the consequences of – or react appropriately to – mistakes.”

This is a key finding which speaks directly to the (psychological) definition of intelligence which is addressed later in this article.

ULTRA SOUNDS

Studies have shown that the frequent exposure of the human fetus to ultrasound waves is associated with a decrease in newborn body weight, an increase in the frequency of left-handedness, and delayed speech.

Because ultrasound energy is a high-frequency mechanical vibration, researchers hypothesized that it might influence the migration of neurons in a developing fetus. Neurons in mammals multiply early in fetal development and then migrate to their final destinations. Any interference or disruption in the process could result in abnormal brain function.

Commercial companies (which do ultrasounds for “keepsake” purposes) are now creating more powerful ultrasound machines capable of providing popular 3D and 4D images. The procedure, however, lasts longer as they try to make 30-minute videos of the fetus in the uterus.

The main stream magazine New Scientist reported the following: Ultrasound scans can stop cells from dividing and make them commit suicide. Routine scans, which have let doctors peek at fetuses and internal organs for the past 40 years, affect the normal cell cycle.

On the FDA website this information is posted about ultrasounds:

While ultrasound has been around for many years, expectant women and their families need to know that the long-term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known. In light of all that remains unknown, having a prenatal ultrasound for non-medical reasons is not a good idea.

NATURE VERSUS NURTURE…THE DEBATE CONTINUES

Now that you are aware of some of the known factors which determine, improve, and impact the intellectual development of a fetus, it’s time for conception. Once that baby is born, which will be more crucial in the development of its intellect: nature (genetics) or nurture (the environment)?

Apparently for centuries, scientists and psychologists have gone back and forth on this. I read many comprehensive studies and reports on this subject during the research phase of this article, and I believe that it’s time to put this debate to rest. Both nature and nurture are equally as important and must be fully observed in the intellectual development of all children. This shouldn’t be an either/or proposition.

A recent study shows that early intervention in the home and in the classroom can make a big difference for a child born into extreme poverty, according to Eric Turkheimer, a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The study concludes that while genetic makeup explains most of the differences in IQ for children in wealthier families, environment – and not genes – makes a bigger difference for minority children in low-income homes.

Specifically, what researchers call “heritability”- the degree to which genes influence IQ – was significantly lower for poor families. “Once you’re put into an adequate environment, your genes start to take over,” Mr. Turkheimer said, “but in poor environments genes don’t have that ability.”

But there are reports that contradict these findings…sort of.

Linda S. Gottfredson, a professor of educational studies at the University of Delaware, wrote in her article, The General Intelligence Factor that environments shared by siblings have little to do with IQ. Many people still mistakenly believe that social, psychological and economic differences among families create lasting and marked differences in IQ.

She found that behavioral geneticists refer to such environmental effects as “shared” because they are common to siblings who grow up together. Her reports states that the heritability of IQ rises with age; that is to say, the extent to which genetics accounts for differences in IQ among individuals increases as people get older.

In her article she also refers to studies comparing identical and fraternal twins, published in the past decade by a group led by Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., of the University of Minnesota and other scholars, show that about 40 percent of IQ differences among preschoolers stems from genetic differences, but that heritability rises to 60 percent by adolescence and to 80 percent by late adulthood.

And this is perhaps the most interesting bit of information, and relevant to this section of my article:

With age, differences among individuals in their developed intelligence come to mirror more closely their genetic differences. It appears that the effects of environment on intelligence fade rather than grow with time.

Bouchard concludes that young children have the circumstances of their lives imposed on them by parents, schools and other agents of society, but as people get older they become more independent and tend to seek out the life niches that are most congenial to their genetic proclivities.

BREAST-FEEDING INCREASES INTELLIGENCE

Researchers from Christchurch School of Medicine in New Zealand studied over 1,000 children born between April and August 1977. During the period from birth to one year, they gathered information on how these children were fed.

The infants were then followed to age 18. Over the years, the researchers collected a range of cognitive and academic information on the children, including IQ, teacher ratings of school performance in reading and math, and results of standardized tests of reading comprehension, mathematics, and scholastic ability. The researchers also looked at the number of passing grades achieved in national School Certificate examinations taken at the end of the third year of high school.

The results indicated that the longer children had been breast-fed, the higher they scored on such tests.

TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Thomas Sowell, author of Race, IQ, Black Crime, and facts Liberals Ignore uncovered some fascinating information that every parent should take note of. He writes:

There is a strong case that black Americans suffer from a series of disadvantageous environments. Studies show time and again that before they go to school, black children are on average exposed to a smaller vocabulary than white children, in part due to socioeconomic factors.

While children from professional households typically exposed to a total of 2,150 different words each day, children from working class households are exposed to 1,250, and children from households on welfare a mere 620.

Yes, smart sounding children tend to come from educated, professional, two-parent environments where they pick-up valuable language skills and vocabulary from its smart sounding inhabitants.

Mr. Sowell continues: Black children are obviously not to blame for their poor socioeconomic status, but something beyond economic status is at work in black homes. Black people have not signed up for the “great mission” of the white middle class – the constant quest to stimulate intellectual growth and get their child into Harvard or Oxbridge.

Elsie Moore of Arizona State University, Phoenix, studied black children adopted by either black or white parents, all of whom were middle-class professionals. By the age of 7.5 years, those in black homes were 13 IQ points behind those being raised in the white homes.

ACCUMULATED ADVANTAGES

At this juncture in my research it dawned on me, and should be fairly obvious to you, that many children are predisposed to being smart, educated, and intelligent, simply by their exposure to the influential factors which determine them long before they start school.

An informed mother, proper prenatal care, educated, communicative parents, and a nurturing environment in which to live, all add up to accumulated advantages that formulate intellectual abilities. As you can see, some children have unfair advantages from the very beginning.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of top-selling book Outliers, wrote that “accumulated advantages” are made possible by arbitrary rules…and such unfair advantages are everywhere. “It is those who are successful who are most likely to be given the kinds of social opportunities that lead to further success,” he writes. “It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention.”

With that in mind, we turn our attention to education and intelligence.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WELL EDUCATED?

Alfie Kohn, author of the book What Does It Mean To Be Well Educated? poses the question, does the phrase well educated refer to a quality of schooling you received, or something about you? Does it denote what you were taught? Or what you remember?

I contend that to be well educated is all in the application; the application and use of information. Information has to be used in order to become knowledge, and as we all have heard, knowledge is power.

Most people are aware of the floundering state of education in this country on some level. We tell our children that nothing is more important than getting a “good” education, and every year, due to government budget shortfalls, teachers are laid off, classes are condensed, schools are closed, and many educational programs – especially those which help the underprivileged – are cut.

The reality is, we don’t really value education. We value it as a business, an industry, political ammunition, and as an accepted form of discrimination, but not for what it was intended: a means of enriching one’s character and life through learning.

What we value as a society, are athletes and the entertainment they offer. The fact that a professional athlete makes more money in one season, than most teachers in any region will make in their careers, is abominable. There’s always money to build new sports stadiums, but not enough to give teachers a decent (and well-deserved) raise.

Ironically, the best teachers don’t go into the profession for money. They teach because it’s a calling. Most of them were influenced by a really good teacher as a student. With the mass exodus of teachers, many students are not able to cultivate the mentoring relationships that they once were able to because so many are leaving the profession – voluntarily and involuntarily – within an average of three years.

At the high school level, where I got my start, the emphasis is not on how to educate the students to prepare them for life, or even college (all high schools should be college-prep schools, right?), it was about preparing them to excel on their standardized tests. Then the controversial “exit” exams were implemented and literally, many high schools were transformed into testing centers. Learning has almost become secondary.

This mentality carries over into college, which of course there’s a test one must take in order to enroll (the SAT or ACT). This explains why so many college students are more concerned with completing a course, than learning from it. They are focused on getting “A’s” and degrees, instead of becoming degreed thinkers. The latter of which are in greater demand by employers and comprise the bulk of the self-employed. The “get-the-good-grade” mindset is directly attributable to the relentless and often unnecessary testing that our students are subjected to in schools.

Alfie Kohn advocates the “exhibition” of learning, in which students reveal their understanding by means of in-depth projects, portfolios of assignments, and other demonstrations.

He cites a model pioneered by Ted Sizer and Deborah Meier. Meier has emphasized the importance of students having five “habits of mind,” which are: the value of raising questions about evidence (“How do we know what we know?”), point of view, (“Whose perspective does this represent?”), connections (“How is this related to that?”), supposition (“How might things have been otherwise?”), and relevance (“Why is this important?”).

Kohn writes: It’s only the ability to raise and answer those questions that matters, though, but also the disposition to do so. For that matter, any set of intellectual objectives, any description of what it means to think deeply and critically, should be accompanied by a reference to one’s interest or intrinsic motivation to do such thinking…to be well-educated then, is to have the desire as well as the means to make sure that learning never ends…

HISTORY AND PURPOSE OF IQ

We’ve always wanted to measure intelligence. Ironically, when you look at some the first methods used to evaluate it in the 1800s, they were not, well, very intelligent. Tactics such as subjecting people to various forms of torture to see what their threshold for pain was (the longer you could withstand wincing, the more intelligent you were believed to be), or testing your ability to detect a high pitch sound that others could not hear.

Things have changed…or have they?

No discussion of intelligence or IQ can be complete without mention of Alfred Binet, a French psychologist who was responsible for laying the groundwork for IQ testing in 1904. His original intention was to devise a test that would diagnose learning disabilities of students in France. The test results were then used to prepare special programs to help students overcome their educational difficulties.

It was never intended to be used as an absolute measure of one’s intellectual capabilities.

According to Binet, intelligence could not be described as a single score. He said that the use of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) as a definite statement of a child’s intellectual capability would be a serious mistake. In addition, Binet feared that IQ measurement would be used to condemn a child to a permanent “condition” of stupidity, thereby negatively affecting his or her education and livelihood.

The original interest was in the assessment of ‘mental age’ — the average level of intelligence for a person of a given age. His creation, the Binet-Simon test (originally called a “scale”), formed the archetype for future tests of intelligence.

H. H. Goddard, director of research at Vineland Training School in New Jersey, translated Binet’s work into English and advocated a more general application of the Simon-Binet test. Unlike Binet, Goddard considered intelligence a solitary, fixed and inborn entity that could be measured. With help of Lewis Terman of Stanford University, his final product, published in 1916 as the Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon Scale of Intelligence (also known as the Stanford-Binet), became the standard intelligence test in the United States.

It’s important to note that the fallacy about IQ is that it is fixed and can not be changed. The fact is that IQ scores are known to fluctuate – both up and down during the course of one’s lifetime. It does not mean that you become more, or less intelligent, it merely means that you tested better on one day than another.

One more thing to know about IQ tests: They have been used for racist purposes since their importation into the U.S. Many of those who were involved in the importation and refinement of these tests believed that IQ was hereditary and are responsible for feeding the fallacy that it is a “fixed” trait.

Many immigrants were tested in the 1920s and failed these IQ tests miserably. As a result, many of them were denied entry into the U.S., or were forced to undergo sterilization for fear of populating America with “dumb” and “inferior” babies. If you recall, the tests were designed for white, middle class Americans. Who do you think would have the most difficulty passing them?

Lewis Terman developed the original notion of IQ and proposed this scale for classifying IQ scores:

000 – 070: Definite feeble-mindedness
070 – 079: Borderline deficiency
080 – 089: Dullness
090 – 109: Normal or average intelligence
110 – 119: Superior intelligence
115 – 124: Above average (e.g., university students)
125 – 134: Gifted (e.g., post-graduate students)
135 – 144: Highly gifted (e.g., intellectuals)
145 – 154: Genius (e.g., professors)
155 – 164: Genius (e.g., Nobel Prize winners)
165 – 179: High genius
180 – 200: Highest genius
200 – higher ?: Immeasurable genius

*Genius IQ is generally considered to begin around 140 to 145, representing only 25% of the population (1 in 400).
*Einstein was considered to “only” have an IQ of about 160.

DEFINING INTELLIGENCE

Diane F. Halpern, a psychologist and past-president of the American Psychological Association (APA), wrote in her essay contribution to Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid that in general, we recognize people as intelligent if they have some combination of these achievements (1) good grades in school; (2) a high level of education; (3) a responsible, complex job; (4) some other recognition of being intelligent, such as winning prestigious awards or earning a large salary; (5) the ability to read complex text with good comprehension; (6) solve difficult and novel problems.

Throughout my research and in the early phases of this article, I came across many definitions of the word intelligence. Some were long, some were short. Some I couldn’t even understand. The definition that is most prevalent is the one created by the APA which is: the ability to adapt to one’s environment, and learn from one’s mistakes.

How about that? There’s the word environment again. We just can’t seem to escape it. This adds deeper meaning to the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” It means recognizing what’s going on in your environment, and having the intelligence adapt to it – and the people who occupy it – in order to survive and succeed within it.

There are also many different forms of intelligence. Most notably those created by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University.

Dr. Gardner believes (and I agree) that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We esteem the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live.

He felt that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on IQ testing, was far too limited and created the Theories Of Multiple Intelligences in 1983 to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults.

These intelligences are:

Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Not associated with Dr. Gardner, but equally respected are:

FLUID & CRYSTALLIZED INTELLIGENCE

According to About.com, Psychologist Raymond Cattell first proposed the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence and further developed the theory with John Horn. The Cattell-Horn theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence suggests that intelligence is composed of a number of different abilities that interact and work together to produce overall individual intelligence.

Cattell defined fluid intelligence as “…the ability to perceive relationships independent of previous specific practice or instruction concerning those relationships.” Fluid intelligence is the ability to think and reason abstractly and solve problems. This ability is considered independent of learning, experience, and education. Examples of the use of fluid intelligence include solving puzzles and coming up with problem solving strategies.

Crystallized intelligence is learning from past experiences and learning. Situations that require crystallized intelligence include reading comprehension and vocabulary exams. This type of intelligence is based upon facts and rooted in experiences. This type of intelligence becomes stronger as we age and accumulate new knowledge and understanding.

Both types of intelligence increase throughout childhood and adolescence. Fluid intelligence peaks in adolescence and begins to decline progressively beginning around age 30 or 40. Crystallized intelligence continues to grow throughout adulthood.

SUCCESSFUL INTELLIGENCE

Then there’s Successful Intelligence, which is authored by intelligence psychologist and Yale professor, Robert J. Sternberg, who believes that the whole concept of relating IQ to life achievement is misguided, because he believes that IQ is a pretty miserable predictor of life achievement.

His Successful Intelligence theory focuses on 3 types of intelligence which are combined to contribute to one’s overall success: Analytical Intelligence; mental steps or components used to solve problems; Creative Intelligence: the use of experience in ways that foster insight (creativity/divergent thinking); and Practical Intelligence: the ability to read and adapt to the contexts of everyday life.

With regard to environment, Mr. Sternberg writes in his book Successful Intelligence: Successfully intelligent people realize that the environment in which they find themselves may or may not be able to make the most of their talents. They actively seek an environment where they can not only do successful work, but make a difference. They create opportunities rather than let opportunities be limited by circumstances in which they happen to find themselves.

As an educator, I subscribe to Mr. Sternberg’s Successful Intelligence approach to teaching. It has proven to be a highly effective tool and mindset for my college students. Using Successful Intelligence as the backbone of my context-driven curriculum really inspires students to see how education makes their life goals more attainable, and motivates them to further develop their expertise. Mr. Sternberg believes that the major factor in achieving expertise is purposeful engagement.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

In his best-selling 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman reported that research shows that conventional measures of intelligence – IQ – only account for 20% of a person’s success in life. For example, research on IQ and education shows that high IQ predicts 10 to 25% of grades in college. The percentage will vary depending on how we define success. Nonetheless, Goleman’s assertion begs the question: What accounts for the other 80%?

You guessed it…Emotional Intelligence. What exactly is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence (also called EQ or EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Many corporations now have mandatory EQ training for their managers in an effort to improve employee
relations and increase productivity.

TACIT KNOWLEDGE aka “STREET SMARTS”

You’ve heard the phrase, “Experience is the greatest teacher…”

In psychology circles knowledge gained from everyday experience is called tacit knowledge. The colloquial term is “street smarts,” which implies that formal, classroom instruction (aka “book smarts”) has nothing to do with it. The individual is not directly instructed as to what he or she should learn, but rather must extract the important lesson from the experience even when learning is not the primary objective.

Tacit knowledge is closely related to common sense, which is sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. As you know, common sense is not all that common.

Tacit knowledge, or the lessons obtained from it, seems to “stick” both faster and better when the lessons have direct relevance to the individual’s goals. Knowledge that is based on one’s own practical experience will likely be more instrumental to achieving one’s goals than will be knowledge that is based on someone else’s experience, or that is overly generic and abstract.

BEING BOTH SMART AND STUPID

Yes, it’s possible to be both smart and stupid. I’m sure someone you know comes to mind at this precise moment. But the goal here is not to ridicule, but to understand how some seemingly highly intelligent, or highly educated individuals can be so smart in one way, and incredibly stupid in others.

The woman who is a respected, well paid, dynamic executive who consistently chooses men who don’t appear to be worthy of her, or the man who appears to be a pillar of the community, with a loving wife and happy kids, ends up being arrested on rape charges.

It happens, but why? I found the answer in Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid. Essentially, intellect is domain specific. In other words, being smart (knowledgeable) in one area of your life, and stupid (ignorant) in another is natural. Turning off one’s brain is quite common especially when it comes to what we desire. A shared characteristic among those who are smart and stupid, is the difficulty in delaying gratification.

Olem Ayduk & Walter Mischel who wrote the chapter summarized: Sometimes stupid behavior in smart people may arise from faulty expectations, erroneous beliefs, or merely a lack of motivation to enact control strategies even when one has them. But sometimes it is an inability to regulate one’s affective states and the behavioral tendencies associated with them that leads to stupid and self-defeating behavior.

The central character in this book who many of these lessons regarding being smart and stupid revolve around is Bill Clinton and his affair with Monica Lewinksky.

WISDOM & CONCLUSION

My great grandmother, Leola Cecil, maybe had an 8th grade education at the most. By no stretch of the imagination was she highly educated, but she had what seemed like infinite wisdom. She was very observant and could “read” people with startling accuracy. Till the very end of her life she shared her “crystallized intelligence” with whomever was receptive to it.

She died at the age of 94. I often use many of her sayings as a public speaker, but most importantly, I use her philosophies to make sure that I’m being guided spiritually and not just intellectually. Many of us who are lucky enough to have a great grandparent can testify that there is something special about their knowledge. They seem to have life figured out, and a knack for helping those of us who are smart, educated and intelligent see things more clearly when we are too busy thinking.

What they have is what we should all aspire to end up with if we are lucky: wisdom.

Wisdom is the ability to look through a person, when others can only look at them. Wisdom slows down the thinking process and makes it more organic; synchronizing it with intuition. Wisdom helps you make better judgments regarding decisions, and makes you less judgmental. Wisdom is understanding without knowing, and accepting without understanding. Wisdom is recognizing what’s important to other people, and knowing that other people are of the utmost importance to you. Wisdom is both a starting point, and a final conclusion.

Top 20 Qualities of Smart People

In today’s competitive world, it pays to be smart. No matter how smart you are, I am sure there is something you could “get smarter” about. Below are some qualities of smart people. As you read the list, ask yourself: Am I as smart as I could be in this area? How could I get smarter?

1. Make Decisions Intuitively
Smart people listen to and follow their intuition. They know how intuitions and insights come to them and are tuned-in internally to make wise decisions.

2. Are Self-Aware
Smart people are aware of who they are— strengths, weaknesses, personality, values, etc. As Confucious once said, “He who knows others is wise, he who knows himself is enlightened,” they know that the most important (and interesting) thing to know about is “self.”

3. Use Active Reflection
Smart people reflect on and learn from past experiences, finding out what works and what doesn’t, and then adjusts their course of action as needed. They think about things before jumping in, and also take the time after-the-fact to actively reflect to fully understand what happened or didn’t happen.

4. Think Out-of-Box
Smart people can easily entertain new ideas, thoughts, and ways of doing things. They crave progressive and forward thinking information, concepts, and people. They often come up with new and radical ideas on a regular basis.

5. Have An Open-Mind
Smart people are open to different perspectives and see potential where most people don’t. They would agree with what the quote, “A mind is like a parachute, it only functions when it is open.” They are comfortable with paradoxes and can relate to many sides of an issue or opinion.

6. Are Responsive
Smart people recognize and respond quickly to opportunities and people. They act and react fast, and take care of what needs to be taken care-of, well ahead of schedule.

7. Are Resourceful
Smart people don’t have to know it all, but they do know where to go to get whatever information, resources, training, education that they need. They are well-networked and have people to call on for resource referrals.

8. Question Authority
Smart people think for themselves. They do not blindly believe things so-called “experts” say, in fact, they ask deep questions to discover their own truth.

9. Upgrade Their Brain
Smart people stay smart because they are committed to being a lifelong learner. They continuously learn new things, and stay current with their skills, attitudes, and beliefs.

10. Have a Sense of Humor
Smart people do not take themselves or life too seriously. They recognize the importance of finding the fun in the irony and the comedy of everyday life.

11. Take Risks
Smart people are willing to try out new things, knowing that if it doesn’t work out as intended, failure is often cleverly disguised as a learning opportunity. They “swing out there” often, and it usually pays off.

12. Trust Themselves
Smart people believe and trust themselves first and foremost. They don’t have to check with others to make decisions, they instinctively know what is right for them and they go for it!

13. Write and List Things on Paper
Smart people have a well-developed life strategy that includes a written life vision/mission, purpose, and goals statement. They also write lists—one for “have to’s” and one for “want to’s.”

14. Are Productive
Smart people get things done, through whatever organizational/time management system that works for them. They make the most of each day and take action on important life tasks each and everyday.

15. Use Discernment
Smart people are able to discern (see clearly) other’s reasons and motives, so they selectively choose who and what to align themselves with. They surround themselves with only the highest quality people, programs, and places.

16. Read, Read, Read
Smart people tap into the collective brain power of others by reading books, magazines, articles—anything that is helpful for their own development. They are also able to filter out the information that fits for them and let the rest go.

17. Value Learning
Smart people value the process of learning for learning’s sake. They do not just learn for a specific end—to get a certificate, degree, title, etc. They learn because it is intrinsically rewarding for them.

18. Teach Others
Smart people are the teachers of the world, who share their knowledge with other people. They put themselves out there so the rest of us can benefit, and in exchange, their own learning grows and develops because they are actively talking about, researching, and understanding their subject.

19. Reinvent Themselves
Smart people do not like to stay the same, they love to grow and develop. They often play with their image, brand, company name, and expand or change it entirely. To stay ahead of the game, they often reinvent themselves time and time again.

20. Are Students of Life
Smart people not only know about specific subjects and topics, but also about what it means to be a human being at this time in our evolution. They are insatiably curious and want to know more about becoming bigger and brighter, as a result they naturally evolve.

As Lao Tzu said, “To gain knowledge, add things everyday. To gain wisdom, remove things everyday.” This is so true, our brain is like a computer and in order for it to function at a higher level, we must always be adding, while simultaneously taking away information that no longer serves us. Think about it, what do you want to remove from your database? And, what new software program will you replace it with?

4 Reasons to Try SMART Recovery If 12 Step Meetings Aren’t Your Thing

Today we are highlighting treatment resources for substance abuse and addictions. While the general public may be aware of Twelve Step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), there are other alternatives. SMART Recovery® is one such organization that is gaining popularity.

This is taken directly from their website:

SMART Recovery® is the leading self-empowering addiction recovery support group. Our participants learn tools for addiction recovery based on the latest scientific research and participate in a world-wide community which includes free, self-empowering, science-based mutual help groups.

The SMART Recovery® 4-Point Program® helps people recover from all types of addiction and addictive behaviors, including: drug abuse, drug addiction, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, prescription drug abuse, sexual addiction, and problem addiction to other substances and activities. SMART Recovery® sponsors face-to-face meetings around the world, and daily online meetings. In addition, our online message board and 24/7 chat room are excellent forums to learn about SMART Recovery® and obtain addiction recovery support. If you’re new to SMART Recovery®, get started with our introduction here.”

As someone who has been to literally hundreds of NA meetings over the past ten years but who is also a trained mental health counselor, SMART Recovery® appeals to me in ways that NA does not. For the record, if NA or AA work for you, then by all means keep doing it. But for me, some of the ideals that NA holds sacred are the ones that I find most difficult to accept as a practicing clinician. Here are 4 ways that SMART Recovery® is different:

1. It’s okay to have a mental illness.

When I was new to recovery, I just assumed that everybody who was in recovery also had a mental illness. This is called dual-diagnosis – basically, you are an addict AND you suffer from something like depression, anxiety, or bipolar. I was surprised to learn that this wasn’t the case. It’s probably a matter for debate, but I knew any number of recovering addicts who claimed that they had never experienced any mental health issues – aside from the addiction, of course, which invariably had ruined their lives. Moreover, I soon found that those addicts who did suffer from a mental illness were reluctant to admit it in the rooms. You would certainly talk about it with your sponsor, but these kinds of topics were considered controversial in a general meeting.

I never could understand why that seemed to be the case. I suspect it has something to do with NA’s belief in a Higher Power and the power of The Program. The idea is, if you’re working the program the way you should, your sanity should be restored and you get to be a productive member of society. Extremists in the groups would inevitably claim that you were not working the program to the best of your ability if you were still depressed or manic any of the other things that come with a mental illness. I suppose this is true for some, but it was certainly not the case for me.

SMART Recovery®, on the other hand, completely recognizes mental illness as a real thing, sometimes separate from the addiction but often times linked. They acknowledge “possible psychological factors” and members are treated accordingly. This just makes sense to me.

2. They support evidence based use of psychological treatments and the legal use of prescribed psychiatric medication.

This might be the single biggest difference between SMART Recovery® and NA. Both NA and AA make a point of separating themselves from “professional services.” It’s even against their guidelines to have trained clinicians involved in meetings. NA, for example, believes that “the therapeutic benefit of one addict helping another is without parallel.” That sounds great, and for many it’s true. Except when you think about it, you’re talking about one sick person, with no training, helping another sick person. Admittedly, this does work for many, but why is it a bad idea to use evidence based therapy or even prescribed medications in the fight against addiction and co-occurring mental illness? Many members of NA despise the very idea of medication, for any reason. Some would go as far as to say you are not working an honest program if you are using any drug, prescribed or otherwise. total abstinence from everything.

While it is perhaps not a good idea for a recovering heroin user to take narcotic pain killers when Advil would do, this belief gets a bit more murky when you start looking at mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. These are conditions which can absolutely be managed with medication and therapy, bu the bottom line is that some schizophrenics are completely unable to function without their medication. In an example like this, abstinence from all substances seems like a horrible idea. I attended NA meetings for years, and was under a doctor’s care the entire time for both severe anxiety and depression. I was prescribed medication for both. I told exactly zero people in NA about that part of my life. Not because I was ashamed, but because I didn’t want to be accused of “relapsing” when all I was doing was taking legally prescribed medications. This ended up being a major reason I eventually stopped attending meetings. Even as a licensed counselor, I’m hesitant to talk with people about psychotropic medications, as I’m not a medical doctor. I simply don’t think it’s a good idea to have completely untrained people give medical advice about anything. But that’s unfortunately what sometimes happens in the rooms of NA.

3. NA sees addiction an simple; SMART Recovery recognizes its complexity.

NA touts it’s program as a simple program for complicated people. That sounds like a great idea. Except that addiction is a complicated disease that gets further complicated when you try to oversimplify it.

Consider the following: Not all addicts are built the same way. I know many addicts in recovery who claim they can get addicted to anything – heroin, crack, sex, soap operas, you name it. I know others who had their one drug of choice and who never really had problems with anything else. I was one of those types of addicts. I had what can best be described as a psychological addiction to marijuana. In my past, I’ve tried many other drugs. None of them really interested me. To this day, I have a beer occasionally, but I can’t remember the last time I ever got drunk. I’ve also never been arrested or in trouble with the law, which for many addicts is the norm. All I’m saying is that we are not all alike. SMART Recovery® recognizes this. SMART Recovery® accepts that this is a complicated, multi-faceted disease. Some addicts require medication; some don’t. Some addicts require hospitalization; some don’t. Some addicts need therapy; others need accountability, direction, structure, or all of these things, or none.

4. SMART Recovery is based on science, not spirituality.

The following is taken from the SMART Recovery® FAQ section: SMART Recovery® has a scientific foundation, not a spiritual one. SMART Recovery® teaches increasing self-reliance, rather than powerlessness. SMART Recovery® meetings are discussion meetings in which individuals talk with one another, rather than to one another. SMART Recovery® encourages attendance for months to years, but probably not a lifetime. There are no sponsors in SMART Recovery®. SMART Recovery® discourages use of labels such as “alcoholic” or “addict.”

If you’ve never been to a 12 Step meeting, the differences might not be obvious to you. But the differences are profound. At an NA meeting, if I speak, I’m supposed to say “Hi my name is Randy, and I’m an addict.” It’s weird if you don’t. NA’s position is that we have to accept who we are, and I do agree with that. But is it possible that we can change? I think it is. But if I went to an NA meeting and said “Hi my name is Randy and I used to be an addict,” rest assured there would be drama.

Furthermore, the basic assumption with NA (and AA, for that matter) is that you attend those meetings FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Even if that is the right thing to do, how realistic do you suppose that is? Certainly some people do end up doing this, as addicts have a bad habit of dying young. SMART Recovery® on the other hand recognizes that at some point treatment has to stop. It’s just the way things are. Professional counseling these days is centered around brief therapies that are really not supposed to last for more than six months. If you’re seeing the same therapist five years later, you really have to ask yourself if any work is actually being done. Wouldn’t the same thing be true with NA?

Finally, powerlessness was an issue that I always had with NA. It’s also a HUGE part of their philosophy. We have to admit that we are powerless. Only then can we admit we need help. That’s true, but the problem is that people tend to use powerlessness as an excuse for all sorts of things. SMART Recovery® advocates self-reliance, which is the cornerstone of any modern treatment modality. If we are to get better, we will need to lean on others at first, but eventually, we are going to have to lead our own lives. In addition to this being a more realistic way of looking at things, it also has the benefit of being tue.

If you have found success in the rooms of NA or AA, then by all means, I want to encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. It’s obviously working for you, so why change it? But if you are like me, and parts of NA or AA just don’t sit well with you, or you prefer a more scientifically-based approach to substance abuse treatment, check out SMART Recovery®. It’s free, they offer meetings both online and in person, and they even have an online chat feature if you have any questions or concerns. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, use whatever tools you have to fight this cunning and elusive disease. Check out SMART Recovery®.

Why Smart People Live Better Lives!

We know it to be true! They do live better lives!

But, why?

There seems to be no clear answer at first!

What is it about these “smart” people that makes life seem so carefree and limitless?

We know for certain that no one’s life is truly that wonderful! Right?

I think?

Nothing about this phenomenon seems to make any logical sense at first glance!

But, wait, things aren’t always as they first seem.

When you analyze the situation closely, you can discover exactly what’s really going on here!

So, what EXACTLY is it about these people that makes life so great for them?

It’s not that smart people work harder, we all know that!

Come on….

I think almost every one of us can easily remember an event that took place in our lives that was challenging and required some level of hard work from us, right?

Remember the time you studied for 2 solid weeks for that nearly impossible calculus exam.

Only to earn a C, while you happen to notice that the “smart” student next to you gets a 90%, even though right before the exam, he informed you he didn’t have the chance to even study for it!

Ever notice how smart people seem more attractive or appealing in almost a mysterious, indescribable way?

Now, how can that be?

Intelligence does not = Attractive

WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON?

No one can just look at you and know that you are “smart,” right?

Or wrong?

Maybe it’s not so hard after all!

In my analysis of the overall situation, I have come to some really cool and interesting conclusions that I would love to share with everyone!

Why do I want to share it with everyone?

Because, this is info that we all can use to live better lives.

You don’t have to be “smart” to live smart!

So, just what is it that creates that difference in quality of life for smart people?

As I stated previously, it is not that smart people simply work harder than the rest.

To be completely accurate, we know that smart people very often seem to work far less in comparison to a the “average, normal” person.

So, what is it that makes the difference?

You ready?

The difference is that smart people make more effective and efficient progress through their efforts!

Another way to conceptualize this is that smart people are receive greater, more significant rewards for the efforts that they have put in.

Let me be more succinct…

SMART PEOPLE GET RESULTS.

And they tend to get used to getting results!

So, what happens next, that “smartness” starts to be desired in every aspect of the smart person’s life.

Now, let’s more accurately call the smartness what it is, results!

A smart person gets results.

And, smart people begin to want and strive for getting those levels of results from every aspect of their lives.

It is no longer good enough to bank the same, invest the same, work the same, vacation the same, interact with people the same.

The smart person seems to almost get addicted to getting those effective and efficient results

And, they start to want that type of performance in every area of their lives

Work, play, leisure, etc

Wow, I guess that makes sense then, smart people get results, the more results they get, the happier, maybe even better their lives seem to be.

Now, what you might be wondering is…..

What if I don’t believe I’m a smart person?

Is my life doomed to be a life of misery, burdened by constant limitation? What hope is there for me?

Well, I have a positive answer for you…..

No, it doesn’t mean you are doomed.

You can start living smarter too!

Learn the tips smart people use in their daily lives!

Get free tips from smart people to improve your life, who can beat that?

That’s free info to living a more productive, effective, efficient, fulfilling, better life!

I don’t know about you, but…I’ll take it!