What is SMART recovery?

What is SMART recovery?

SMART Recovery (Self Management and Recovery Training) is an international non-profit organization which provides assistance to individuals seeking abstinence from addictive behaviors. The approach of smart recovery is secular and science-based using non-confrontational motivational, behavioral and cognitive methods. Meeting participants of smart recovery learn recovery methods derived from evidence-based addiction treatments.

Smart recovery emphasizes four areas which they call the 4-point program in the process of recovery. The 4-point program of smart recovery includes: building motivation, coping with urges, problem solving and lifestyle balance. The smart recovery tools used are various types of therapy including cognitive behavioral therapy. Smart recovery does not use the twelve steps like AA or NA and is actually listed as an alternative to AA and the twelve steps. Even though smart recovery is listed as an alternative it is also suggested as a supplement to a twelve step program.

Smart recovery was incorporated in 1992 as the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network, the organization began operating in 1994. SMART recovery is recognized by the American Academy of Family Physicians, as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). NIDA and NIAAA are agencies of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Smart recovery meetings are free for all wishing to attend, and are intended to be informational as well as supportive. Over 800 weekly smart recovery group meetings led by volunteer facilitators are held worldwide.

Smart recovery meetings are also held in correctional facilities in many states including: Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

In smart recovery there are stages of change, seven of them and these changes are essentially how the smart recovery program works.

  • Stage one of smart recovery change: pre-contemplation: at this stage of smart recovery the participant may not realize that they have a problem.
  • Stage two of smart recovery change: contemplation: the participant of smart recovery evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of the addiction by performing a cost/benefit analysis.
  • Stage three of smart recovery change: determination and preparation: the participant completes a change plan worksheet.
  • Stage four of smart recovery change: action: The participant in smart recovery begins to seek out new ways of handling their addictive behavior. This can include self-help, the support of addiction help groups or professional guidance from a counselor etc.
  • Stage five of smart recovery change: maintenance: At this stage a few months of smart recovery have gone by and the participant in smart recovery‚Äôs behavior has been changed and now seeks to maintain their gains.
  • Stage six of smart recovery: Relapse: although it is not inevitable, relapses even in smart recovery are normal and part of the change cycle and if they are handled well can serve as a learning experience in overcoming addiction.
  • Stage seven of smart recovery change: termination: once the participant in smart recovery has sustained a long period of change they may choose to move on with their lives and graduate from smart recovery.

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