SMART Recovery

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smart-recoveryWhat Is SMART?

SMART recovery is an addiction treatment program designed to provide individuals an alternative to traditional 12-step approaches to recovery. The program’s name is an acronym, which stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. Participants learn certain skills that alloe them to better manage their cravings and triggers long term.

Instead of a traditional 12-step program, SMART recovery is built around four points:

1. Building and maintaining motivation: This means the patient needs to have to proper motivation and willingness to maintain their sobriety. Pros and cons od sobriety are discussed.

2.Coping with urges: Participants identify triggers that cause cravings and learn how to supress the urge to use drugs and/ or alcohol.

3.Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors: By examining these thoughts and feelings, participants are taught how to prevent relapse. Self-acceptance and management of emotional triggers is learned.

4.Living a balanced life: Participants analyze what is most important to them, and taught howe to set realistic goals for the future.

SMART recovery meetings can be held either in-person or online.

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Why Consider SMART Recovery As A Treatment?

Some people turn to SMART Recovery because the program doesn’t believe in using labels, such as “addict” or “alcoholic.” While people are encouraged to hold themselves accountable for their actions, the program doesn’t serve to cast blame on others. Others may choose it because the program can provide anonymity. A person can participate in online chat rooms without having to identify themselves. This is a helpful advantage for those whose occupational or family situation may not permit them to participate in a more open and in-person environment.

In addition to these benefits, SMART Recovery uses many scientific principles in the structure of the program. Examples include cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. This is a treatment that involves having a person think through their behaviors, both in the past and present. The therapy involves focusing on a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs. By helping a person understand how their thoughts and mindsets affect their behavior and choices, including the decision to pursue sobriety, they are better able to handle the stresses and anxieties of life.

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is another technique involved in the SMART Recovery program. This treatment approach involves helping individuals find and continue their motivations for wanting to live a sober lifestyle. Maintaining sobriety can be a constant challenge for an individual, especially in the early days. By using techniques to help a person find motivation, they are ideally more well-equipped to stay sober.

What Are the Benefits of Participation in this Recovery Program?group-therapy-sessions

The SMART Recovery program is designed to empower individuals to play an active and continual role in their own sobriety. If a person chooses to attend in-person meetings, the meetings are intended to foster honest and open discussions regarding each person’s experiences in pursuing sobriety. The program also supports the use of psychological treatments as well as taking prescribed medications to reduce a person’s dependency on drugs and/or alcohol.

There is a spiritual component that is incorporated into the Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Some of those in recovery may prefer to participate in a program that doesn’t involve a spiritual component. When this is the case, the SMART Recovery program can offer the benefits of support and addiction recovery as a 12-step program can.

The program has been used for those of all ages, including teen and youth programs. Several national organizations have recognized the SMART Recovery program for its usefulness in treating substance abuse. Examples of these programs include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Where can I Find SMART Recovery Programs?

SMART Recovery programs are available across the United States. Visiting the organization’s website and clicking on “Local Meetings” can help you find face-to-face meetings. Many treatment centers also offer SMART Recovery meetings as a part of their programs. The books and treatment materials are also available on the site’s online shop and at some online retailers, for those wishing to start their own local SMART Recovery chapters.


  1. Horvath, P. T. (2012, July 20). If Not AA, Then What? SMART Recovery and the AA Alternatives. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  2. McCance-Katz, B. S. (2013, July 15). A Primary Care Approach to Substance Misuse. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  3. SMART Recovery – Self Management for Addiction Recovery. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

Last updated on April 7th, 2017 at 02:17 pm

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