There are many roads to recovery. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12-Step treatment programs. Though both programs are effective, this is a similar recovery program that may be better suited for you. It’s called Self-Management for Addiction Recovery Training (SMART). While it is not nearly as large of a program as AA, there are more than 1,000 groups in the United States.
SMART was founded in 1994 by Joe Gerstein and other experienced psychologists. The nonprofit organization works to remove the spiritual aspect of 12-Step treatment programs and the overall aspect of being in recovery for the rest of your life. Instead, SMART Recovery places the focus on evidence-backed steps. It utilizes the most recent medical research on substance abuse and addiction to help individuals overcome behaviors of compulsion by altering their thoughts and putting those actions into practice.
SMART Recovery meetings are completely free and are mainly focused on abstinence. They focus on assisting members with the development of tools that will change the patterns that have already been developed in their lives that have led to their addictions. Using these tools, the SMART Recovery program aims to assist individuals in leading meaningful, satisfying lives.
Alternatively, the SMART Recovery program doesn’t singularly focus on drugs and alcohol. The program meetings are also for individuals who struggle with certain addictive behaviors. For example, addictions to shopping, gambling, exercise, eating and more. As this program gains popularity throughout the U.S., it has also gained web-based support communities. These are particularly beneficial to those who need support when in-person meetings aren’t available. Additionally, there are support programs for family members.
While the SMART Recovery program may use certain terms like “abuse” and “addiction,” it is not required for individuals to refer to themselves as substance abusers or addicts at meetings. In fact, research has shown that individuals in the early stages of their recovery may prefer to avoid using these types of terms. AA and 12-Step programs, however, require that individuals refer to themselves as “addicts,” and the reason for this is because this certain “step” is a way to accept responsibility for their problem. Unfortunately, this keeps some individuals from entering into the program that could actually help them.
Additionally, the SMART Recovery program focuses on the fact that there IS an end date to your recovery. While it is true that individuals struggling with a drug or substance abuse battle may need a long time to overcome their compulsive behaviors surrounding addiction and relapses, it is possible for it all to come to an end. SMART Recovery focuses on that. Within the program, you will learn that you can eventually reach a stage of full recovery rather than remaining in a stage of recovery for the rest of your life. The SMART Recovery program believes that you can and will reach a point where SMART meetings aren’t useful for you any longer. The goal is for you will have overcome your addiction through self-exploration and mindful effort. When this time comes, congratulations!!
The SMART Recovery program utilizes a specific toolset based on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
These tools include the following:
At a SMART meeting, you can expect to focus on at least one of the aforementioned tools, and they will be applied to the problems the group has experienced within the previous week. The group will then create a plan that focuses on better overall habits as well as sensible ways of thinking for the upcoming week.
While it is true that the SMART Recovery program is not nearly as popular as AA and the 12-Step program, it is a support group that is recognized by numerous medical organizations, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and the Center for Health Care Evaluation.
Because of the nature of SMART Recovery meetings, its websites specifically states this studies do not address the direct effectiveness of the meetings. However, some studies indirectly show that this type of supportive therapy can be beneficial for individuals needing to conquer an addiction.
Looking at scientific psychological research, there are two types of individuals as follows:
Locus of control refers to who is in charge of a person’s future. This may something external (the focus of most 12-Step programs that are based on religion) or it may be something internal, such as themselves (the focus of the Smart Recovery program).
These types of individuals include the following:
SMART Recovery understands that each person has a different history and varied preferences when it comes to their treatment, and this may allow individuals to gain more benefit from certain aspects of the program (such as meetings over online support or vice versa).
As mentioned previously, the “addict” label is required in AA and 12-Step programs. This often keeps people from wanting to join. Labeling of that type is not required or even warranted at SMART meetings. Instead, these meetings center on what each person encountered in the week prior and what can be changed to be healthier in the upcoming week. There is absolutely no judgment—even when relapse is involved. The only focus is to get healthy.
The Smart Recovery program permits prescription medications (sometimes monitored), including maintenance therapies such as psychiatric medications and buprenorphine.
Those individuals may include the following:
The SMART Recovery program is relatively new, but it is gaining an increasing foothold in the U.S as a new form of supportive group treatment that offers a variety of different therapy methods and goals - all for the goal of including more people that need help to enter into a program and stay on track during their recovery.
If you are struggling with addiction, contact us at Shadow Mountain Recovery so we get you on the road to a healthier you.