When you’re on the addiction recovery path, utilizing various sources of support can help you on your journey. SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is a support group that helps many men and women remain sober and create a better life for themselves.
SMART Recovery is a great option for those who don’t resonate with AA or NA, or those that have an issue with the Higher Power concept found in typical 12-Step meetings. In fact, some will attend SMART Recovery meetings and combine the 12 Steps from the other groups, finding the combination helpful.
SMART Recovery uses a 4-Point Program training that helps those in addiction recovery minimize or overcome their addictive tendencies. Whether they’re addicted to alcohol, drugs, food, porn, sex, gambling, shopping, etc., this self-management recovery group aims to educate and empower you to lead a life free from addiction.
The purpose of SMART Recovery is to help you improve your quality of life by learning how to identify and defeat faulty or irrational thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. The tools used for recovery are based on evidence-based addiction treatment. There’s a big emphasis on self-empowerment, directing members to take full responsibility for their thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours.
SMART Recovery educates members on self-reliance and self-empowerment. You’re challenged to stop pointing fingers and blaming others for the situations you find yourself in. They teach that if you want a good life, you’ve got to do the necessary work to create it.
They also teach using specific techniques and offer tools for members to begin changing. The meetings offer members to freely share their feelings, challenges, and encouragement.
SMART uses 4-Points to teach freedom from addiction. They include:
There are differences between AA, NA and SMART Recovery. First, SMART does not label a person an addict or alcoholic. They do not encourage people to look at themselves or define themselves by such labels. They also do not believe the common belief in AA and NA, that “once an addict, always an addict.” The concept of being powerless over a habit is not endorsed. Rather than think they have to fight urges and cravings for the rest of their lives, they are taught by trained volunteers to examine underlying beliefs and thoughts that may be the root issues. They don’t feel that a person should have to spend the rest of their life having to attend meetings. They feel you should go as long as the meetings are helping you.
SMART is not based on the belief that there is a Higher Power such as God. They let members believe whatever it is that works for them. They also inform members of the various recovery options available to them.
Let’s look more closely at each of SMART’s 4 Point Training philosophies:
When you want to get free from alcohol or drugs, having proper motivation can help. If you don’t know the reasons why you want to remain on the sobriety path, it can be more challenging to resist the temptation to drink or drug. SMART Recovery encourages members to make a list of why they want to remain free from alcohol or drugs. By writing down the pros and cons of using such substances, it can help them set boundaries and be clear about what they really want.
When you stop drinking or drugging, you’ll most likely have to contend with the urge to use every now and then. For some people, this urge can be quite often. How do you cope with such urges? SMART Recovery teaches you to identify what kinds of things trigger such cravings. Then, when you’re aware of those triggers, you can use distraction techniques to overcome them or you can learn to identify irrational thoughts associated with urges.
This is the point where you really get serious with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Thoughts influence feelings and feelings influence behaviours, so if you can become an observer of your thoughts and examine them like a detective, you’ll be more apt to see just what ones are not serving you well. You’ll be able to identify what you’re thinking and feeling better and give yourself permission to feel those negative thoughts momentarily. Then, work through them rather than try to numb them with alcohol or drugs. This takes time and practice but it is quite possible.
Balance is a major key to experiencing peace and joy in life. When you decide to live life sober and free from addictive tendencies, your life goes through some changes. Recovery is a learned experience and learning how to stay in balance is important to sustain recovery. In SMART Recovery, you’ll begin to think about what’s important to you in your life and create goals and strategies for moving toward a life that you love.
Recovery takes time and change can be difficult, but change is necessary for growth. If you don’t like where you are, then you must do things differently. There are many resources available to help you to achieve whatever your goals may be – even stop drinking or drugging. There are books, audios, teachers, classes, Life Coaches, therapists, 12 Step groups, support groups, counsellors, rehabs, and a variety of other resources you can utilize to grow and become successful.
If you haven’t checked out a SMART Recovery meeting yet, see if there’s one in your area and go. If you don’t want to go alone, grab a friend or family member and go. You may find that you really get a lot out of the meetings, and they may help you remain addiction-free and create the kind of life you truly desire.