If you’re new to recovery or looking for a way to expand your recovery toolkit and connect with like-minded others, SMART Recovery could be of great help to you. You can access their meetings and their recovery community free of charge.
SMART are an organisation that has gained in popularity over the years, resulting in it being accessible on a global level.
The four-point recovery programme that the organisation deliver is free to anyone with the desire to overcome a substance misuse problem and make substantial changes towards a better life. SMART Recovery provides an additional recovery path to AA meetings.
SMART also welcome anyone who needs help in overcoming difficulties they have faced as a result of another person's substance misuse.
The ultimate goal of the SMART programme is for its participants to achieve a sustainable lifestyle, free from destructive behaviours and addictive substances.
What is SMART Recovery?
SMART Recovery is a science-based programme. It uses proven methods of treatment and educates its participants on addiction. The charity is a secular organisation and is not affiliated with any religion. Their teachings do not conflict with the beliefs of those belonging to any religious group.
As a non for profit registered charity, SMART Recovery relies solely on donations from its members to help keep the organisation running.
SMART use an evidence-based approach to treating people who suffer from addiction. The techniques that they deliver have been shown to work, regardless of the substance or activity involved.
The SMART Recovery community is always continually growing and evolving. This is thanks to the SMART ethos of helping others. They encourage their members to help each other as part of their personal growth and recovery programme.
SMART focuses on changing the self-destructive thoughts and behaviours that have led a person to abuse substances. The organisation aim to help members to develop a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. This is achieved by teaching members methods that focus on self-empowerment, behaviour modification and healthy decision-making.
SMART in SMART Recovery stands for:
Self-Management & Recovery Training
What is a SMART facilitator?
The meetings held by SMART are led by certified facilitators who volunteer to train for the position. Most of the facilitators are people who have already benefited from applying the SMART programme to their own lives.
Facilitators have to undergo extensive training before taking on the role of facilitator. Many facilitators have the added benefit of having great insight into the illness of addiction.
How does the SMART Recovery programme work?
SMART works by following a 4-point simple programme of recovery. The programme helps its members to move away from old self-destructive behaviours and apply new healthier methods. Learning healthier coping strategies is an important part of recovery from addiction.
The facilitator at SMART meetings guides members in the development of self-empowerment and implementing positive change. The ultimate goal is to live a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.
Facilitators learn additional treatment methods, including cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT) and non-confrontational motivational therapies.
The 4-point addiction recovery programme
The four-point programme that SMART use addresses the key areas of addiction that are related to thought and behaviour.
SMART Recovery’s 4-point programme consists of:
- Building and maintaining the motivation to change
- Coping with urges to use alcohol or drugs
- Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours
- Living a positive, balanced and healthy lifestyle
The organisation likes to avoid the use of terms such as ‘addict’ and ‘alcoholic’. The belief is that these labels are by nature self-limiting. By removing labels that have a negative association, members are then free to realise their full potential and embrace their own individuality.
The 4-point programme covers topics that are traditionally problematic for those suffering from addiction. These topics include self-awareness, motivation, personal growth, belief systems, relapse prevention, emotions, and unhealthy behaviours.
Who uses the SMART Recovery Community?
It is common for treatment professionals that work within institutions and the criminal justice system to refer their clients to the SMART community. SMART offers a very flexible and supportive programme that appeals to so many.
As well as the general community being able to access SMART, their programme is also popular with prisons and in-patient rehabs (closed institutions). Local drug and alcohol teams also allow SMART meetings to be held within their premises. They will often refer their clients to attend.
SMART Recovery currently offers around three thousand weekly meetings. Their treatment programme is currently accessible in over twenty countries.
Who can attend SMART Recovery Meetings?
The programme is completely free for anyone who wants help with an addiction. Dedicated meetings and communities for families, friends, teens and military personnel are also available.
Addictions SMART Recovery can help with, include :
- Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction
- Prescription drug abuse and addiction
- Opiate abuse and opiate addiction
- Cocaine abuse and addiction
- Polysubstance abuse and addiction
- Tobacco addiction
- Food addiction
- Gambling addiction
- Sex addiction
- Shopping addiction
This above list is by no means inclusive.
SMART Recovery is very flexible, its science-based programme means it can be adapted to treat any addictive substance or behaviour.
Who benefits from attending SMART Recovery?
Members of the SMART community are free to engage in other recovery practices, in addition to SMART Recovery. SMART feel that there is no single right way to recover and so they place no restrictions on what their members choose to access.
SMART does not view relapse as a personal failure and recognises that it does happen. Instead, members who relapse are encouraged to view the experience as an opportunity for personal growth and to formulate a better recovery.
SMART offers many benefits to those who want to be part of a recovery community and who have a scientific mind. Its teachings do not require you to believe in anything other than yourself and your own spiritual or religious leanings (if you have any).
How SMART Recovery can help you
If you suffer from a substance misuse problem or an addiction and want to access free, structured help, SMART Recovery could be for you.
SMART Recovery can help you with:
- Connection - SMART encourage its members to support and help each other. They place a focus on building a personal supportive network of like-minded others.
- Managing your emotions - SMART recovery will introduce you to several evidence-based methods which will help you to better manage your emotions. By applying practical methods of emotional regulation through self-empowerment techniques, there will be no need to use substances. SMART believe in freedom of choice and will show you ways in which you can avoid or curb addictive behaviours.
- Impulse control - The organisation applies proven methods of resisting the urge to act on impulse. Thought processes can lead to impulsive behaviours and unhealthy choices, so it makes sense to start with treating the thinking.
- Relapse prevention - SMART Recovery places lots of emphasis on relapse prevention. They teach proven methods of avoiding relapse, including spotting the early warning signs.
- Motivation to better your life - The charity believes in realistic goal setting and breaking goals down into small, practical steps. By doing this SMART members can learn to set achievable goals. Each member's goals are personal but should be focused on achieving a healthier recovery from addiction, and improving their overall quality of life.
- Self-empowerment - SMART Recovery helps its members to gain confidence in listening to their own intuition. Techniques are taught to members, showing them how to tap into their inner intuition and strength. This helps in building self-esteem and self-empowerment.
Connecting to SMART Recovery
The easiest way to join SMART Recovery is to refer yourself. Alternatively, we have SMART meetings you can attend within our community hub on zoom. You can request that a professional make the referral for you.
Before going to a SMART meeting, it is a good idea to make contact with the facilitator taking the meeting. You can then discuss any concerns you have and reserve your space ahead of attending.
SMART Recovery can be accessed through face-to-face meetings, online meetings or through attending training. Handbooks are also available to order from their website.
Much like SMART, we at Recoverlution believe in freedom of choice when it comes to choosing the path of recovery from addiction. There is no one size fits all, hence why we are partnered with SMART Recovery. It is about finding what works for you as an individual. This may mean using one particular recovery programme, or treatment method or using a combination of different treatment methods.
UK SMART Recovery (UKSR) & SMART Recovery International: https://smartrecovery.org.uk