Recovering from addiction is difficult, but it isn’t impossible, and the recovery process can be made easier by connecting with support groups who offer safe, inclusive environments, like SMART Recovery.
However, for people who do not identify as spiritual or religious, or who are looking for a more science-based approach to recovery, 12-step programs may not feel like the right method of recovery and support. As a result, it is necessary to look at other options for long-term encouragement and recovery techniques.
One option for recovery is SMART Recovery, which is one of the leading recovery groups in the United States dedicated to helping participants learn tools and techniques for self-empowerment. Participants in the group learn tools to aid their recovery process which is based on solid, proven scientific evidence and research, and are encouraged to engage with a global support system.
This system includes free, science-based support services and self-empowerment techniques, a global network of active, engaged participants who are always available, as well as a 4-step recovery process.
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What is SMART Recovery?
SMART Recovery stands for Self-Management And Recovery Training and is a different kind of support group than 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
Instead, it is a 4-point program designed to help people from all walks of life recover from abusive and addictive behaviors. These behaviors can include: substance abuse, drug addiction, drug abuse, gambling addictions, sexual addiction, prescription drug abuse, alcohol abuse, cocaine addiction, and other problematic addictions to destructive or negative substances or behaviors.
SMART Recovery provides opportunities for participants to connect with others via face-to-face meetings all across the world, as well as the chance to receive additional support in the form of online meetings through their website. In addition to real life and digital connections, participants in the program can also access an online message board, a chat room, and forms to learn more about the program and gain access to even more support systems than with 12-step programs.
How does SMART Recovery work?
The SMART Recovery program offers a 4-step program which is supplemented by tools and techniques to assist in your recovery. The steps include:
1. Building and maintaining motivation
These tools teach self-empowerment and self-reliance and encourage members to lean on each other to stay motivated to stay sober.
2. Coping with urges
Support in this area is based on scientific research about addictions and recovery therapies, as well as providing 24-7 access to supportive communities, forums, and daily meetings.
3. Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
By providing safe, science-based support, the SMART program teaches participants the tools and techniques necessary for self-directed change.
4. Living a balanced life
This program is designed to help members find the necessary supports and learn lifestyle behaviors which are conducive to leading satisfying addiction-free lives.
How does SMART Recovery Differ from a 12-Step Program?
SMART Recovery is not a 12-step program. Most 12-step programs operate based on a spiritual or religious foundation, whereas this program focuses on scientific cognitive and behavioral methods. These methods include, but are not limited to, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) which is a comprehensive, active-directive, empirically-based philosophy which focuses on behavioral and emotional tools and techniques to help people lead healthier and happier lives.
Unlike 12-step meetings where participants talk to one another in a formalized meeting, SMART programs encourage members to talk with one another on a more informal basis. Additionally, while many AA or NA meetings encourage members to attend long-term, or even for the rest of their lives, SMART programs are designed to be shorter-term recovery support systems lasting for months or maybe years, depending on the needs of the participant.
Another way that these meetings differ from 12-step programs is that there are no sponsors. SMART groups work together to create shared systems of support instead of relying on individual group members to stay accountable. Also, while 12-step programs often refer to participants as “alcoholics” or “addicts” this program discourages the use of these kinds of titles and negative descriptors.
Does SMART Recovery work for people who are severely addicted?
This method of addictions treatment is not for everyone, but whether the program works for one individual to the next depends largely on the person’s beliefs and their needs.
Since SMART Recovery focuses on rational thinking, it can be accessible to a broad range of people from all walks of life, and can be used to help people from all walks of life. For example, many meetings regularly take place in prisons, homeless shelters, inpatient mental health centers, and other areas frequented by people who are struggling with addiction and behavioral issues due to substance abuse.
Does SMART Recovery have support systems for friends and families of addicted persons?
Yes, the program includes a Family & Friends online support group and a message board which is designed especially for Concerned Significant Others (CSO) and recommended reading includes the book Get Your Loved One Sober. Resources are also available to help family members employ Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) techniques to help their loved one during their recovery process.
If they’re interested, friends and family members are encouraged to attend SMART Recovery meetings to learn about and abstain from negative or maladaptive behaviors that they may have developed in response to their loved one’s addiction. One example would be learning how to stop enabling their loved one’s destructive behaviors, and instead how to provide a firm, supportive environment to help them stay sober.
The SMART Recovery program is a resource for substance abuse and addiction recovery and is recognized by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Center for Health Care Evaluation, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
To learn more about SMART Recovery and why it may be the right choice for yourself or your loved one, contact us today, we’re happy to provide you with more information.
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