The Smart Recovery Model: How it Can Help You
Many addiction treatment programs and providers agree that building a new support system that helps you stay connected to your goals and empowers you in your recovery journey is an essential part of maintaining long-term sobriety. Many treatment programs get clients connected to 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. While these programs work for some, many people dislike the 12 step model as it does not align with their recovery needs or belief system.
What is Smart Recovery
SMART Recovery stands for Self Management and Recovery Training. The SMART approach is secular and science-based, using cognitive behavioral therapy and non-confrontational motivational methods to help those struggling with alcohol addiction and other substance use disorders. It is not a 12 step program. SMART Recovery program helps people recover from all types of addictive behaviors, including gambling addiction, sex and love addiction, and food addiction.
The purpose of SMART’s program, as stated on their website, is to “support individuals who have chosen to abstain, or are considering abstinence from any type of addictive behaviors (substances or activities), by teaching how to change self-defeating thinking, emotions, and actions; and to work towards long-term satisfactions and quality of life.”
The SMART Recovery approach focuses on teaching individuals self-empowerment and self-reliance. The program encourages individuals to recover to live satisfying lives.
Group meetings and SMART literature teach individuals tools for self-directed growth. The meetings held by the SMART program are educational and are in an open discussion format. Unlike many 12 step meetings, SMART advocates for the appropriate use of prescribed medications and psychological treatments. The SMART program’s literature and ideologies change as scientific knowledge of addiction recovery evolves and changes.
More About SMART
The SMART Recovery Model is a Four Point Program. The modality is used to help individuals gain independence from addiction and substances, and other harmful activities. The Four Point Program of specific techniques and tools to manage the following needs:
Point 1: Building and Maintaining Motivation
Point 2: Coping with Urges
Point 3: managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
Point 4: Living a balanced life
The SMART program uses a variety of tools to help people of all gender identities and walks of life gain independence in their recovery. Program participants are encouraged to learn these tools, put them into real-life applications, and progress sequentially through the four points. The tools that the SMART program employs are as follows:
- Stages of Change
- Change Plan Worksheet
- Cost/Benefits Analysis Decision Making
- Coping with Urges
- Coping with emotional upsets
- Destructive Images and Self Talk and Refusal Model
- Hierarchy of Values
- Role-Playing and Rehearsing
- Unconditional Self Acceptance.
The SMART program is organized and straightforward and taught by trained facilitators. The principles are primarily aimed to help people change their behaviors, Some of the program participants have had addiction problems, and some have not. SMART is an educational and mental health program. The atmosphere of SMART meetings is knowledge-based but often can be described as fun and connective. SMART recovery does not encourage clients to stay living and talking about their past. The program enables clients to know they cannot change their history, so discussions are focused on applying the tools and skills to the present moment to lead a more productive life.
SMART programming does not label members as “addicts” or “alcoholics” or as having a “disease.” These labels are considered discouraging and unproductive. Recovery is not seen as a lifelong process in SMART. The program empowers people in knowing that real, lasting change can be made in thinking and behavior by taking charge of their own lives. SMART Recovery does not focus on having individuals admit” powerlessness” like in the 12 step models of treatment. SMART’s program messaging lets individuals know that recovery looks different for everybody, and it is up to the individual to decide what is best for them.