SMART Recovery: An Alternative Recovery Program

AA Meetings

There is a common misconception that treatment for alcohol use looks and operates a certain way. Unfortunately, these beliefs and stigmas surrounding specific treatments are causing those who need help to avoid it because they decide it won’t work for them. However, the treatment approaches to helping those with alcohol use disorders are much more involved. For example, AA alone offers an array of different kinds of group therapy meetings and practices.

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) recovery is an alternative approach to treating and overcoming substance use disorders. Finding the proper treatment that will aid you in your pursuit of recovery does not need to be intimidating; it just educates yourself about the different options and determines which one will fit your needs best. Let’s take a closer look at SMART Recovery and why this treatment might be a good fit for you.

What Is SMART Recovery?

SMART is a support group for individuals recovering from alcoholism and other substance use disorders. It functions to help individuals, family members, and friends learn how to rebuild their lives after recovery. The National Center for Biotechnology Information defines SMART as a treatment approach based on cognitive-behavioral therapy and rational, emotional, behavioral therapy. Furthermore, scientific research supports the tools and techniques gained from the therapy that helps you make healthy life choices. SMART Recovery is also available in many cities worldwide, as well as treatment centers. Choice House offers SMART as an option in addition to AA and 12-Step programs.

How Does SMART Recovery Work?

SMART Recovery is all about self-empowerment. Meetings and other support groups provide information on staying motivated after rehab, preventing cravings, and establishing the importance of living a balanced life. Topics covered in SMART include:

  • Showing self-responsibility
  • Replacing self-destructive thoughts with rational thoughts
  • Setting achievable goals
  • Accepting impulses and learning how to resist urges
  • Building patience

SMART is effective at showing you that you have the power of choice in any given situation. You can also attend other meetings such as AA, NA, and 12-step groups in addition to attending SMART.

SMART Recovery Meetings

Meetings are open to anybody. The program is beneficial not only to an individual in recovery but also their family and friends. While there is typically no cost to participate in SMART Recovery, many groups accept donations for the cost of materials. SMART recommends attending at least five meetings before deciding whether or not this approach is right for you. Attending five meetings will allow you enough time to learn more about this program and see how it fits your recovery plan. While SMART provides essential resources for long-term sobriety, it is up to you to practice what you learn in each meeting. Most meetings will offer volunteer opportunities which are great for building connections and self-confidence.

SMART Recovery Meetings for Family and Friends

Most SMART Recovery programs open their doors to the family members and friends who are affected or concerned by a loved one’s substance use. Being open to friends and family of those working to overcome their substance use is a great way to educate those in your recovery network who might not wholly understand what you are experiencing with your substance use disorder. Family and friends alike will receive advice on coping with a loved one’s substance use as well as providing correct motivation to help keep you moving forward in your recovery.

Feeling more understood by friends and family lends a stronger sense of trust and connection that you might not otherwise attain if friends and family weren’t attending your meetings. Building these bonds helps to show that you are not alone and that others understand what you are going through and put your recovery first.

Meetings are More Fluid

SMART meetings are much more fluid and flexible than other AA or 12-step programs regarding core beliefs. Self-empowerment takes precedence over the philosophy of powerlessness. Sessions focus on scientific beliefs rather than spiritual ones. SMART meetings also provide a more compassionate atmosphere because they do not label those in attendance as alcoholics. They also view relapse as resetting your progress; relapse is incorporated into your forward progress and seen as a lesson, not a setback. SMART meetings also allow cross-talk among participants. The spotlight is not concentrated on a single person. At SMART, you will talk with others rather than talking to them and then moving on to the next person.

Meetings do not advocate a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Each participant is encouraged to adopt an approach that suits their own specific needs based on age, sex, duration of use, and psychological profile. You will not need to admit your addiction in front of the rest of the group. SMART also lacks central text, unlike the “Big Book” in AA. SMART does recommend reading, but it is only encouraged, not required.

When deciding which recovery approach you should take, it is essential to understand that both SMART and AA meeting groups can vary significantly in tone, nature, and quality. At Choice House, we believe that the approach to treatment should be ever-evolving and consist of conventional methods that work and alternative methods that work. We also believe that SMART, AA, NA, and 12-Step meetings have a place, and their effectiveness depends on the individual. At Choice House, we have a staff of professionals that will work with you to help you discover the best approach to fit your needs. You will also be in a comfortable space and among other men seeking the best treatment for their recovery. Soon, you will have the connections and confidence to lead your recovery for the long term. It all begins with understanding that the proper treatment exists for you and then taking the first step to getting help. Find out more and call us today at (720) 577-4422.