SMART Recovery is a scientifically based program designed to help individuals abstain from abuse of substances and other compulsive and addictive behaviors such as gambling, sex, eating, shopping, and self-harm. SMART Recovery is based on principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET). SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training.
SMART Recovery is organized around a 4-Point Program that provides participants with a variety of ways of managing their addictive behaviors in order to achieve recovery. These four points are:
> Building and Maintaining Motivation
> Coping with Urges
> Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
> Living a Balanced Life
SMART is characterized by several key features that include the following:
> There is no “higher power,” religious, or spiritual component. Spiritual beliefs are neither encouraged nor discouraged; it is up to the individual to decide what is helpful to his or her personal recovery.
> Participants are not considered powerless; instead, SMART Recovery emphasizes increasing self-reliance. Participants are given many tools and techniques to empower themselves in their recovery.
> Meetings are not leaderless, they are structured and run by trained volunteers.
> Interaction among members during a meeting, or “cross-talk,” is encouraged. Members are encouraged to talk with one another, rather than to one another.
> Participants are encouraged to attend for months or years, but not necessarily a lifetime.
> There are no steps and no sponsors.
> Members are supported in taking psychiatric medications prescribed by licensed healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable about addictive medications, if they feel that this is helpful.
> Members are supported in seeking psychotherapy from licensed professionals while attending meetings if they feel that this is helpful.
> While SMART is an abstinence-based program, participants are not required to be sober in order to attend meetings. Participants are welcomed at any of the 5 stages of change.
> Some participants like to attend SMART meetings and 12 Step meetings or other recovery programs such as LifeRing or Women or Men for Sobriety at the same time. Some participants try SMART and then leave to try other recovery programs. SMART is not effective for everyone. Individuals who do not respond to SMART are encouraged to explore other recovery programs. What is most important is for the individual to find their own path to recovery.
SMART Recovery is recognized by:
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
US Department of Health and Human Services
The President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
The American Academy of Family Physicians
The Center for Health Care Evaluation
The Bureau of Prisons
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP)
SMART Recovery meetings are held in many areas in the United States and in several foreign countries. In addition, there are online meetings. There are treatment programs that are based on the SMART Recovery model. To learn more about SMART Recovery and to find a meeting or treatment program, visit the SMART Recovery website at www.smartrecovery.org.