Substance Abuse and Sobriety Support among College Students in Michigan

Substance Abuse and Sobriety Support among College Students in Michigan

Type of Group

The counselling group for the target population is Self-Management and Recovery Training. The group focuses on self-direct change and self-empowerment to encourage addicts to abstain from alcohol or drug. It advocates treatment of substance abuse through the use of psychological treatments and prescription medication. Besides, it allows the contribution of scientific research in helping individuals recover from addiction (Hester, Lenberg, Campbell & Delaney, 2013). SMART Recovery program uses principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy to assist in recovery. The group views dependency on alcohol or drug as a learned behavior that needs modification through interventions (Hester, Lenberg, Campbell & Delaney, 2013). Some of the interventions that the group advocates include identifying the conditioned stimuli that are associated with a particular addictive behavior, avoiding the stimuli and developing contingency management strategies.

The role of the group is to change the thinking pattern, beliefs, and perception of people (Hester, Lenberg, Campbell & Delaney, 2013). Moreover, the existence of social networks promotes awareness among people with dependency thus allowing them to avoid behaviors that may result in relapse and develop useful strategies that will help in recovery. In SMART Recovery group, leaders focus on providing members with the structural environment so that they can examine opinions, thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that led to maladaptive behaviors (Kelly & Yeterian, 2011).

Research Support

The group uses cognitive-behavioral therapy principles to teach recovering addicts specific tools that include the following. First, the group teaches about problem-solving whereby individuals can develop strategies to manage behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. Although students in recovery have to cope with addiction disorder, they tend to face problems such as family social and legal issues (Kelly & Yeterian, 2011). The ability of a person to successfully negotiate a problem have a positive correlation to the outcome of the treatment (Cunningham, 2016). The group helps students manage their feelings and behaviors in both short and long-term. Teaching students problem-solving skills is a significant aspect of treatment. Students can develop coping responses and find it easier to avoid high-risk situations during the early stages of change. The group encourages students to use problem-solving techniques prior to the occurrence of high-risk situations. According to Cunningham (2016), problem-solving techniques are offered during the counseling sessions, and one can practice them on their free time or when they are at home. For instance, in a situation when students are stressed or angry, cognitive restructuring or relaxation training would be an ideal technique to help them cope with stress.

After recovering addicts have identified the problem, he/she has to brainstorm possible solutions. SMART Recovery advocates that recovering addicts should think of many possible solutions to their specific problems (Hester, Lenberg, Campbell & Delaney, 2013). Similarly, at this stage, counselors of the group usually contribute solutions. The next step is to make decisions regarding the solutions outlined. The counselor will ask students to consider the list of solutions and eliminate those they think are unfeasible. Therefore, the counselor will use the remaining list of solutions, evaluate them and determine the probable negative and positive outcomes. The decision-making stage will have to consider the short and long-term consequences of the solutions chosen (Perron, Grahovac, Uppal, Granillo, Shutter & Porter, 2011). After the identification of the preferred solution, the counselor will emphasize on putting them into action. By developing a plan of action, students can rehearse and put the solution into action. It is upon the student to rehearse the solution through cognitive strategies or behavioral acts. Besides, it is essential to understand that SMART Recovery advocates for problems solving skills for counselors to teach students to solve their own problems rather than solving on their behalves.

Second, SMART Recovery encourages lifestyle balance. Students need to balance their momentary and enduring satisfaction. For a person to achieve long-term sobriety, they must endure joy and find purpose in life through practicing a healthy lifestyle and positive habits (Hester, Lenberg, Campbell & Delaney, 2013). One way that students can develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle is by joining cognitive-behavioral groups. In groups such as SMART Recovery, one can get encouragements on lifestyle balance from friends and counselors. Interacting with other recovering addicts is a significant step towards realizing the importance of healthy habits since one will receive encouragement from those who have previously used the technique or are practicing it (Perron, Grahovac, Uppal, Granillo, Shutter & Porter, 2011). For instance, recovering addicts can engage in recreational activities and other physical exercises that support a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, other healthy habits include cooking food and participating in substances-free activities. Healthy habits imply that one lives in a substance-free environment, which is a predictor of long-term recovery. When a recovering addict is busy with recreational activities, he/she will not have time to stay in places that might attempt them to relapse.

Lastly, SMART Recovery is useful in improving and maintaining motivation to abstain. Recovering addicts experience motivational struggles in life such as loss of desire to stay drug-free or change lifestyle (Kelly & Yeterian, 2011). Moreover, motivational problems in a person are portrayed when one denies addiction to alcohol or substance abuse and lack of acceptance. A counselor will recognize the motivational problems of addicts when they fail to accept abstinence as the primary goal of treatment (Kelly & Yeterian, 2011). Therefore, SMART Recovery group helps to provide peer support to recovering addicts so that they can remain abstinent. Members actively participate to ensure everyone benefits. Similarly, since the group reduces feelings of isolation through increased sense of security, one can gain motivation to join them.



Cunningham, P. M. (2016). The Use of Sobriety Nutritional Therapy in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction. Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy, 7(3), 1-5.

Hester, R. K., Lenberg, K. L., Campbell, W., & Delaney, H. D. (2013). Overcoming Addictions, a Web-based application, and SMART Recovery, an online and in-person mutual help group for problem drinkers, part 1: three-month outcomes of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of medical Internet research, 15(7), 1-15.

Kelly, J. F., & Yeterian, J. D. (2011). The role of mutual-help groups in extending the framework of treatment. Alcohol Research and Health, 33(4), 350-355.

Perron, B. E., Grahovac, I. D., Uppal, J. S., Granillo, T. M., Shutter, J., & Porter, C. A. (2011). Supporting students in recovery on college campuses: Opportunities for student affairs professionals. Journal of student affairs research and practice, 48(1), 47-64.



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