Trusted Content

SMART Recovery Mutual Support Meetings

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

March 6, 2019

SMART, or Self-Management and Recovery Training, is a treatment program that focuses on empowering individuals to find the motivation to have a meaningful and successful recovery. These programs are designed for those who are looking for a more personalized recovery than what the traditional 12-step programs can give them.

While many people undergoing care for substance abuse and addiction may find that traditional, 12-step methods of treatment meet their expectations, others will be at a loss when entering a facility that does not cater to their own, individual desires and personal traits during recovery. The truth is, every single person has different needs in terms of recovery from substance abuse. We all differ in emotional, psychological, and experiential ways that make for the need of customized treatment methods.

With so many styles of therapy and programs available in the country for those in need of treatment, many will find that SMART Recovery is a great option to explore for their mutual support-based meetings.

Living The SMART Life

SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. Its focus as a program lies in helping individuals find new ways of managing their lives, thinking differently about their behaviors, and discovering motivation for rebuilding life during recovery. This idea of empowerment differs from many other styles of treatment which teach individuals that they are powerless against their addiction. SMART instills in meeting attendees that they will be able to rely on their own positive behaviors and change their thought processes as their addiction evolves, eventually coming to a point of true recovery.

One thing that sets SMART Recovery apart from traditional modes of treatment and support is that it is not offered in a common rehab setting. SMART is led through a network of support meetings, similar to AA, but without the 12 steps. It is only able to be led by those who are trained in its program principles and tools.

SMART is also helpful for those suffering from mental health issues, particularly those who have been dual diagnosed with addiction and a co-occurring mental illness. Working through life skills training and coping techniques, those with mental instability, emotional problems, or serious mental illness can gain new perspective on life and begin to live on a much healthier path.

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The SMART Recovery 4-Point Program

SMART Recovery relies heavily on its 4 Point Program® for effectively managing and coping with addiction recovery. The 4 Points of SMART are:

Building and maintaining motivation:

The first step in recovery is finding motivation to change. Being involved in an addictive lifestyle necessitates being able to recognize this as a problem when entering recovery, seeing how it’s affecting life, and applying motivation to propel oneself toward a point of recovery. SMART recognizes that those who lack the tools and motivation to change their behaviors cannot effectively change their lives.

Coping with urges:

SMART Recovery Executive Director Shari Allwood said to me, “Urges don’t kill you, they dissipate over time.” This can be applied to the 4 Points of SMART Recovery when you allow yourself to find change and move beyond the urges that once were gratified by using. You do not need to use and being able to overcome the urge to do so will give you the opportunity to have less frequent and less bothersome urges as time passes.

Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors:

In active addiction, thoughts and feelings are more often than not, irrational. Irrationality leads to negative behaviors as contemplation of action is compromised. In SMART, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is utilized and applied to the management of thoughts. Similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, REBT focuses on finding resolutions and solving problems when behaviors and actions are at their worst.

This point is important in that is forms a foundation for new life skills learning. It allows for individuals in SMART to realize how their thoughts relate to their behaviors, and how rational thought can be applied when moving forward toward a new and healthy lifestyle.

Living a balanced life:

The last point in SMART is living a balanced life and finding new rewards in life that differ from those that caused addiction. Balancing activities and not focusing too heavily on one aspect of a daily routine can help when recovering from addictive actions. Balance can be learned and maintained throughout life to keep sobriety on track.

Setting SMART Recovery Apart From Other Programs

Sometimes people in active addiction are hesitant to join programs that seem to push upon them ideas and beliefs that go against the ways in which they’d like to live their lives. While coming to believe in a higher power, for instance, can have its benefits for those who are looking for healing and desiring to find a reason for sober living, others aren’t going to be successful in their journey if these beliefs aggravate their lifestyle.

The aggravation of one’s lifestyle, after all, is a common trigger point for addiction and can often cause worse problems rather than leave an individual at peace. Unlike traditional AA or 12-step programs, SMART Recovery does not push the idea of needing a higher power or God-like influence in order to recover. On the same note, the program also doesn’t push for the opposite or work against anyone who lives through their faith.

SMART Recovery also promotes an end point to addiction recovery, never instilling in participants that the program lasts a lifetime or needs to be adhered to forever in order to stay sober. In SMART Recovery, once you feel confident in your sobriety, you move on from the program and no longer attend meetings unless you feel they would be beneficial as a refresher if you encounter stresses in life where a return to meetings would be helpful.

Perhaps even more important to make note of is the fact that SMART Recovery programs never lead with a failing attitude. The participant is NOT powerless in their addiction. Participants have the ability to change their own lives and do not need to lay down and submit to the control of addictive substances.

You’re never a failure in the program, being made to believe that you’re not working it correctly. Rather, if you haven’t achieved a new way of thinking and learned new skills to help you live a healthy life, you just continue in the program until you’re successful. It’s that simple.

That being said, some people easily work through more than one program, even combining AA with SMART Recovery to take from each what one feels works for their individual circumstances. Every person is different in this world, and with that, every addiction is, as well.

SMART Recovery Meetings

As a mutual support group, participants will find that meetings in their community may be available daily or weekly, while immediate needs can be met with online meetings, message boards, and a 24/7 chat room.

There are no sponsors in SMART, so being able to meet online and speak with those trained in facilitating meetings can help when times are tough. With SMART growing, mutual support from like-minded individuals can be found easily online and even in person during meetings held across the country.

Further reading in between meetings may help a struggling individual get through trigger points and cravings on their own. The SMART Recovery Handbook, as well as other publications, are available online or in print versions to anyone interested in gaining new perspective on recovery.

Get The Help You Need Today

At RehabCenter.net, we pride ourselves on finding new and successful ways in which to help those in need find peace and recovery from their addictions. We offer connection to SMART Recovery meetings and would be happy to help you find the best SMART meeting for your needs. For a list of current meetings, click here.

Visit SmartRecovery.org for more information about SMART Recovery. Your addiction doesn’t need to be forever, so begin learning to heal your life and start fresh today.

To View “SMART Recovery” Infographic Click HERE

SMART Recovery Infographic

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