Jan 28, 2015 | By Tim Stoddart

Everything You Need to Know About SMART Recovery


What is smart recovery

What is SMART Recovery?

Although 12-step programs have helped many people recover from substance abuse and addiction, the methodology of surrendering one’s self to a higher power and the generally non-scientific approach has come under some critical scrutiny. Attendance of these programs is usually a compulsory part of a drug court sentence, yet the success rate of 12-step programs is fairly low, anywhere from 10-20 percent. The one component of 12-step programs that is thought to be most effective is the support and camaraderie found within the group of recovering individuals.

SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) Recovery combines a strong support community with evidence-based methods of counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational techniques. The program is organized in a secular manner and focuses on helping addicts remain abstinent from drug or alcohol use. This is not a 12-step program; this is a group-facilitated, self-help program that focuses on the future development of healthy coping mechanisms, as opposed predicating a treatment program on the hope for divine intervention to cure addiction.

The Methodology of SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery uses non-confrontational motivation counseling as an impetus for change in an addicted individual. The program does not use the 12 steps that comprise Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other similar programs. Instead, SMART Recovery focuses on 4 areas for the recovering individual to foster change within:

  • Building Motivation
  • Coping with Urges
  • Problem Solving
  • Lifestyle Balance

Throughout the journey to sobriety, SMART Recovery recognizes various stages of change that an addict experiences. These are:

  • Pre-contemplation – This is the time before an addict may even recognize their problem with drugs or alcohol.
  • Contemplation – The addict weighs the benefits and drawbacks of continuing their addictive behavior.
  • Determination and Preparation – The addict commits to fully engaging in SMART Recovery exercises.
  • Action – The addict actively seeks out ways to address their addictive behavior.
  • Maintenance – After participation in treatment, the addict’s behavior has changed, and they seek to maintain these changes.
  • Relapse – Not all recovering individuals experience this stage. However, SMART Recovery recognizes relapses as an important part of the change cycle, seeing it as an important learning process if properly handled.
  • Termination – After a long-lived period of sobriety, this final stage is when the recovered addict may choose to move on from the SMART Recovery program.

Why SMART Recovery Works

The science based, self-empowering ethos behind SMART Recovery has helped countless people learn to live satisfying, sober lives. It is recognized by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Center for Health Care Evaluation, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), US Department of Health and Human Services and the American Society of Addiction Medicine as an effective and valid resource for addiction recovery.

SMART Recovery works by providing the addicted individual with an effective mental and emotional toolbox to address the issues from which substance abuse arises. During the SMART Recovery process, addicts learn to self-correct problematic thoughts, actions and emotions that contribute to the cycle of substance abuse. Through community, solid therapeutic concepts, counseling techniques and education, this program continues to evolve and advance the field of chemical dependency treatment. Those wanting to learn more about the program can visit SMARTRecovery.org for tools, meeting information and online resources.

8 responses to “Everything You Need to Know About SMART Recovery

  • There’s like one meeting in the whole Chicago area, compared to thousands of 12 step.. I new a guy in my sober house who wanted to try it but couldn’t even find group or leader….

    • SMART Recovery is now being Valparaiso, IN …. It’s truly amazing the connection in Culture of Recovery with SMART Recovery. The 4-Points program offers to tool and techniques for each program point:
      1. Building and Maintaining Motivation
      2. Coping with Urges
      3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
      4. Living a Balance Life
      Many participants utilize these points in every aspect of their lives and with their loved one to utilize in their lives.

  • i would like to use some of the Smart Recovery techniques in my intensive outpatient program for substance abuse and mental health .

  • I’m so glad to see something that doesn’t require ” My name is ________, and I’m an alcoholic.” Because I’m not!

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