SMART Recovery is an abstinence-oriented, not-for-profit organization for individuals with addictive problems. Our self-empowering, free mutual support meetings focus on ideas and techniques to help you change your life from one that is self-destructive and unhappy to one that is constructive and satisfying. SMART Recovery does not use labels like “addict” or “alcoholic.” We teach scientifically validated methods designed to empower you to change and to develop a more positive lifestyle. After you have become familiar with SMART and are free of any addictive behavior, we encourage you to become a volunteer, so that we can keep expanding the number of meetings we offer. Addictive behaviors can serve a purpose — to cope with life’s problems and emotional upsets. There can be drawbacks, however: while addictive behaviors may be effective coping methods in the short term, but they may cause harmful problems in the long term.
In SMART we focus on learning coping skills that work well short- and long-term. We base our ideas on what addiction science has shown to be effective. We have adapted these ideas into SMART’s tools for change. We are not much concerned with the past, except to learn from it. We focus on present-day events and the causes of self-destructive behaviors. We concentrate on what to do about them to achieve a positive lifestyle change, especially in the areas of our lives that are related to harmful addictive behavior.
Key Areas of Awareness and Change
SMART Recovery’s approach to behavioral change is built around our 4-Point Program®: (1) Building and maintaining the motivation to change. (2) Coping with urges to use. (3) Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in an effective way without addictive behaviors. (4) Living a balanced, positive, and healthy life.
Motives and Goals
Motivation is a key element in nearly all you do. Consider that all human beings share several primary goals: survival, the avoidance of pain, happiness. Any addictive behaviors you engage in are to pursue these primary goals. We can help you see that you may be meeting these goals short-term but impairing your ability to meet them in the long-term.
What you believe about addiction is important, and there are many beliefs to choose from. You may believe, for example, that you’re powerless, or that after the first drink you lose all control and can’t stop. These beliefs may actually be damaging to you. Similar examples include, “I’ve tried and failed, so I can’t do it. I need alcohol to cope.” Or, “Because I’ve tried to quit and failed, I’m no good.” Those beliefs, and many like them, can’t be justified because the evidence just doesn’t support them. We will help you identify, examine, and modify your beliefs about yourself, your problems, and how to change.
People often engage in addictive behavior to cope with emotional problems, including anger, guilt, anxiety, and low self-esteem. SMART Recovery teaches you how to diminish your emotional disturbances and increase self-acceptance. Then you can have greater motivation and the ability to change and to live more happily.
Changes in thinking and emotions alone are not enough. Commitment and follow-through are essential. We encourage participants to become involved in enjoyable activities that replace their problematic addictive behaviors.
How SMART Provides Help
Our meeting format is straightforward and organized. Our facilitators are trained to follow the SMART Recovery program and principles to help participants change their behavior. Some of them have had addictive problems, and some haven’t. That doesn’t seem to make any difference. Remember, SMART Recovery is a mental health and educational program, focused on changing human behavior. SMART Recovery meetings are serious but often fun. We don’t dredge up the past, about which we can do nothing. We can do something about the present and the future. Our meeting discussions focus on how to apply SMART’s tools for change so that you can go on to lead a more productive and connected life. Near the end of the meeting, the “hat” is passed for donations, which are encouraged but not required.