If you or someone you love is seeking a recovery program that swaps out science for spirituality and is rooted in a logical approach to self-help, then SMART Recovery may be the right program to explore.

SMART (which stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training) Recovery states that the mission of their abstinence-based non-profit organization is “to empower people to achieve independence from addiction problems with our science-based 4-Point Program®.” SMART approaches recovery from the perspective that thinking creates feelings which leads you to act out; with a cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy called REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy), the SMART program teaches members to “manage the beliefs and emotions that lead you to drink and use.” Much like other recovery support groups, members connect with other SMART Recovery members through face-to-face and online meetings.

A Science-Based Approach

SMART Recovery emphasizes their four points of “awarenessand change:”

1)     Enhancing motivation;

2)     Refusing to act on urges to use;

3)     Managing life’s problems in a sensible andeffective way without substances; and

4)     Developing a positive, balanced, and healthylifestyle.

Their website describes SMART as a “mental health and educational program, focused on changing human behaviors.” The program concentrates on motivation as the most important element in almost everything we, as humans, do; they seek to empower participants to identify their motivators for drinking and using, to reduce the negative emotions that may contribute to those motivations, and to increase self-acceptance which therefore motivates people to remain abstinent.

SMART Recovery does not consider addiction a disease, doesn’t require members to have sponsors, nor does it entail attending meetings for life. The program shies away from terms and labels such as “addict” or “alcoholic,” because they believe it can undermine motivation; SMART sees addiction as “a behavioral problem that can be corrected, not a condition that defines a person’s identity.”

SMART Recovery meetings have assigned leaders who are trained to facilitate these groups, although they are not required to be in recovery. With 2,800 meetings in 23 countries, the SMART Recovery program is growing, and appeals to many people who want a different approach than traditional 12-step meetings. If you’d like explore the SMART philosophy or find a meeting near you, you can learn more here.

Sally Anderson

Licensed Professional Counselor

Sally Anderson, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has provided clinical services in the area of Substance Abuse for 7 years. Having worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings, Sally loves to assist clients navigate their path to recovery by helping them find meaningful connections. Her approach to sobriety includes helping clients develop deeper insight into their addictions and working with them to gain the tools to navigate life’s challenges without alcohol or drugs. Sally uses her own experiences with recovery along with clinical interventions, to help people develop richer lives filled meaning and purpose.