When to use this tool: The Hierarchy of Values helps participants identify discrepancies between their goals and their current behavior. Although many find it useful in each of the four points, it works best with individuals earlier in their recovery, or with those who are struggling with motivation.
Example of its use in a SMART meeting:
Ask the participant these questions and write down their answers:
- What are the five most important things in your life?
- What are the values in your life you want to maintain and protect, what you work and live for?
After you have written down five values, ask the participants where alcohol/drugs/ activity goes on the list:
- What’s missing?
- Where do alcohol, drugs or the addictive behavior go on this list?
PAUSE to let participants think about this, then say:
- Isn’t it true that when you’re engaged in the addictive behavior, you’re putting it above your goals and priorities, placing it above all these other things that are important to you?
Draw an “X” through the listed values and write down “1. Addictive Behavior” at the top of the list. PAUSE to let this sink in, then say: People don’t usually consider alcohol, drugs, or addictive behavior as the number one priority in their lives. But when we get involved with our addictive behaviors, it affects everything we value. We’re treating these other things as being less important.
DRAW arrows from the addictive behavior down and around to each value listed, and then say:
- When we’re thinking about having a drink or using drugs, we aren’t thinking about the long-term consequences of the behavior. We aren’t thinking of the damage it will cause to the things most important to us. The good news is once we stop, we can put abstinence at the top of this list.
DRAW a line through the alcohol/drugs/activity and write down Abstinence at the top of the list. PAUSE for the participants to consider this, and then say:
- By looking after our Abstinence, we automatically look after ALL of the values that are important to us (point down and around each of the values listed).
- Public-Facing Toolbox Page: www.smartrecovery.org/hierarchy-of-values
- Updated Tool PDF (03/2021): https://www.smartrecovery.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/HOV-105-updated.pdf
- Video Link: https://youtu.be/RW63Ddsgol0