SMART Recovery vs. a 12-Step Program

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD) or substance abuse disorder (SUD), you may be comparing a 12-step, faith-based program with Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART) recovery programs.

Twelve-step programs require surrendering to a higher power and then using spiritual principles on the path to sobriety. SMART recovery, on the other hand, uses science-backed tools that put the individuals in control of their choices – and their recovery.

Just because SMART programs are science-based, however, doesn’t mean they are the superior choice for everyone. Both types of programs have pros and cons, and either one may be a better option for certain people. By understanding a little bit about both programs, you can take an active role in your recovery by embarking on the program that resonates with you.

What Is SMART Recovery?

The name of the program might have you believe it’s the wise choice for AUD or substance addiction. SMART Recovery is a leading approach to recovery that empowers individuals with a 4-point program and personalized support from therapists and peers.

The four points in a SMART program are:

  • Building and maintaining motivation
  • Coping with urges
  • Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  • Living a balanced life

SMART Recovery encourages participants to reach out to one another, as well as their therapists, for ongoing support, motivation and encouragement. SMART Recovery empowers individuals to take control of their own choices and gives them the tools to make better decisions that do not involve drug or alcohol use.

The Role of Family in SMART Recovery

Since community support is so important in a SMART Recovery program, family members can play an important role in helping the patient in recovery by avoiding enabling behaviors that may have been patterns in the past.

The Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) is an online support program designed to give family members and friends the tools they need to help their loved one stay sober.

What Is a 12-Step Program?

Programs such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are faith-based, 12-step programs. Both programs require relinquishing control to a “higher power” and are typically non-denominational and, in fact, not centered on any specific faith.

Beachside Rehab also offers programs centered around the Christian faith. Whether you are currently practicing or want to renew your relationship with God as part of your new sober lifestyle, 12-step recovery and a faith-based approach to sobriety may help.

Proven 12-step programs focus on acceptance of your condition, hope for positive change, and faith in a higher power that you can make that change with help from your peer support group, counselors, and, most importantly, from above. Tenets of the program include the Serenity Prayer, which asks God for “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Unlike SMART programs, which encourage you to change your circumstances and take back control of your life, 12-step programs acknowledge that there are elements outside your control.

The Role of Family in 12-Step Recovery

Family members can also play a role in recovery by understanding that they cannot change their loved one’s behavior, only their reactions to it. Recovery for both the addict and the loved one involve finding meaning in their life through faith and prayer.

Which Program Is Right for You or Your Loved One?

If you have an analytical mind and believe that you are in control of your decisions, SMART Recovery could be the wise choice. On the other hand, if you have a strong grounding in Christian spirituality and believe your situation is beyond your control, a 12-step recovery program may help. Both programs offer counseling, support, and guidance every step of the way.

Beachside Rehab in West Palm Beach, Florida provides inpatient and outpatient detox, rehab, and holistic recovery, including 12-step and SMART recovery options. Call 866-349-1770 to speak with a trained admissions counselor.