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How SMART Recovery Offers Different Path to Overcoming Addiction

The decision to overcome addiction starts with the person who is battling dependence on drugs and/or alcohol. And if the decision to get clean didn’t necessarily start with the person, it certainly will end with him or her making an effort to live clean and sober.

Some people will seek out professional substance addiction treatment in a traditional setting, such as a drug rehabilitation center, while others will seek out alternative methods. One of them is the approach offered by the international nonprofit SMART Recovery, which believes each person finds their own path to recovery from addiction.

“SMART” stands for “Self Management for Addiction Recovery.” According to the organization, SMART Recovery is a recognized resource for substance abuse and addiction recovery by the several organizations, among them the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Here, we offer an overview of what SMART Recovery is about and who can benefit from this program.

What is SMART Recovery’s mission?

SMART Recovery is clear about what its mission and purpose are. Its mission is to “offer no-fee, self-empowering, science-based, face-to-face, and online support groups for abstaining from any substance or activity addiction.”

Its purpose is to support people who have either chosen to abstain or are considering abstaining from addictive behaviors (substances or activities), by teaching them how to change self-defeating thinking, emotions, and actions. In addition, they want to teach people how to work toward long-term satisfactions and quality of life.

What kind of addictions does SMART Recovery help participants address?

People who struggle with a variety of addictions and addictive behaviors may find the SMART Recovery approach helpful. Among them are substance abuse, alcohol abuse, illicit and prescription drug abuse, gambling, and sex addiction. The organization writes on its website, “We assume that there are degrees of addictive behavior, and that all individuals to some degree experience it. For some individuals, the negative consequences of addictive behavior (which can involve several substances or activities) become so great that change becomes highly desirable.”

What is the SMART Recovery approach about?

Program participants learn tools for addiction recovery based on scientific research. They also take part in a global community that includes “free, self-empowering, science-based mutual help groups.”

The SMART Recovery approach does the following, according to the program’s website:

Teaches self-empowerment and reliance on oneself
Provides meetings that are educational, supportive; participants also can join open discussions.
Encourages people to recover from addiction and alcohol abuse
Teaches techniques to facilitate self-directed change
Advocates the appropriate use of prescribed medications and psychological treatments

How does SMART Recovery differ from 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous?

SMART Recovery also says its approach to addiction recovery evolves as scientific knowledge in addiction recovery evolves and that it differs from other recovery groups, such as 12-step programs, among them Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and others. SMART moves away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to recovery and encourages participants to find an approach that suits their own needs and preferences.

Who could benefit from SMART Recovery?

People who want an alternative to the 12-step program model, particularly the spiritual aspect of such groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, may be interested in giving SMART Recovery a try. Twelve-step programs typically require people to admit they are powerless over their addictions and behaviors. SMART Recovery focuses on self-reliance and aims to empower participants to examine problematic behavior, such as psychological dependence on drugs and alcohol, and address it.

What is the SMART Recovery 4-Point Program?

The 4-Point Program is designed to help people gain their independence from addiction and addictive behaviors. Participants can use tools and techniques for each point offered in the program, which includes:

Point 1 – Building and Maintaining Motivation

Point 2 – Coping With Urges

Point 3 – Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

Point 4 – Living a Balanced Life

Participants are encouraged to use this framework to create their own recovery plan. They do not necessarily have to go in the order that the points are listed in, but they are encouraged to study a specific point that applies to their current needs.

Does SMART Recovery work?

Some people prefer the SMART approach over 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, because of its secular focus and its embrace of science as well as it focus on relying on one’s self. While results are unique to each person, research seems to support some find success in alternative recovery support groups. SMART highlights research examining choice in addiction recovery. To find a SMART Recovery group in your area, click here.

Need addiction treatment? Give us a call

It is important that people with alcohol and/or dependence find a rehab program they can trust to meet their specific needs. SMART Recovery is one to address addiction, but if you’re interested in entering a rehabilitation facility, call California Highlands Addiction Treatment today at 888-969-8755 for a free consultation and assessment. One phone call can put you or your loved one toward the first step in the journey of lifelong sobriety.