What Is SMART Recovery?
SMART Recovery is a secular program that utilizes the power of support groups without incorporating a 12-step structure. They do not embrace the disease concept of addiction, but do recognize that biological and environmental factors can play a role in its development. Their acronym stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training, emphasizing their focus on behavior modification techniques inspired by cognitive behavioral therapy. Since much of their program is rooted in ongoing scientific research on the nature of addiction, SMART Recovery is subject to change as our understanding of addiction grows. That said, they do utilize a structured 4-point program that revolves around motivation, overcoming urges, solving problems and maintaining a balanced lifestyle.
Who Would Prefer SMART Recovery?
The ideal participant in SMART Recovery would be someone who seeks to develop greater responsibility and self-control while enhancing their understanding of the science behind addiction. Meetings offer not only support, but also information. Therefore, while there are many who prefer SMART Recovery to 12-step programs, some AA and NA members do also attend SMART meetings to bolster their understanding of addiction and provide themselves with additional self-improvement tools. Those who question the disease concept and prefer to think of addiction as merely dysfunctional behavior may feel at home in SMART Recovery, especially if they prefer a secular approach to recovery. Much like AA, there are no dues or fees for SMART membership, so the best way to determine whether it works for you may be to simply attend a meeting and see how you feel about it.
Is It Easy to Find Meetings?
According to their website, SMART Recovery hosts more than 1400 meetings in 49 of the United States, as well as DC. Unfortunately for those who might be interested, this number is not nearly large enough to ensure a SMART presence in your community. They do, however, offer online meetings in addition to a 24-hour chat room. This means that those who do not live in the vicinity of a SMART meeting may still connect with other members and learn more about the program. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the number of SMART Recovery meetings in America more than doubled between 2014 and 2017. This rapid growth rate means that the lack of a presence in your area could possibly be short-lived. Those who wish to set up their own meeting may also find helpful resources on the SMART Recovery website.