SMART Recovery – Self Management & Recovery Training – Viable Alternative To 12 Step Recovery Support

SMART Recovery stands for self management and recovery trainingSMART Recovery is an acronym that stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. Addiction has become a widespread epidemic in the United States and people are constantly looking for treatment, support and to fell connected as they take their journey to recovery. And many alternatives to AA have popped up. Smart Recovery is the largest alternative recovery program today. SMART is a self-help support group that is rooted in a scientific foundation that believes one should learn how to be self-reliant and not be powerless. The program believes that each individual finds their own road to recovery.

4-Point Program

The principles of motivational interviewing that are found in Motivational Enhancement Therapy and also uses techniques from Cognitive Behavior Therapy are used in the program. The program emphasizes on four main areas that they refer to as the 4-point program in their process of recovery.

The 4-point program includes;

  • Buildings as well as maintaining motivation

  • Coping with urges

  • Managing feelings, behaviors and thoughts

  • Living a balanced life

The Stages of Change

The SMART Recovery program recognizes that the participants may be in any of the 6 stages of change and different exercises are helpful at the different stages. The Stages are;

Pre-contemplation stage

At this stage the participant does not see the problem. They show up for therapy because they have received pressure from others such as their parents. They resist change and are always blaming other factors for their problem. They feel hopeless.

Contemplation stage

They finally acknowledge they have a problem and they seek ways of solving the problem. They struggle to understand their problem and the solutions available.

Preparation stage

In this stage people have started planning to take action and start making adjustments before they can begin to change their behavior.

Action stage

They start making behavior changes as they learn how to overcome tendencies of their unwanted behavior. They start to get new insight and develop new skills.

Maintenance stage

Action is not the end of change. There must be a strong commitment to maintenance to avoid relapse.

Termination or graduation

They express confidence and enjoy self-control. They have adopted a new self-image that is consistent to the desired behavior and lifestyle.

9  Techniques to Enhance the Stages of Change

Processes refer to activities that are initiated regularly to effect change. They are;

  • Consciousness-raising- this is increasing self -knowledge and knowledge of the problem.
  • Social liberation – external environment considerations that can help in changing
  • Emotional arousal
  • Self-reevaluation – emotional appraisal regarding the problem by weighing pros and cons of change.
  • Commitment – acknowledging that you are the only one that can speak, respond and act for yourself.
  • Countering – planning and substituting unhealthy responses with healthy responses.
  • Environmental control – restructuring of personal environment so as to avoid problem causing events.
  • Rewards – affirmation of the desired behavior by others and yourself
  • Helping relationships – receiving care and support from important people in your life.

Differences Between AA & SMART Recovery

  • Discussions where people collaborate to solve a problem are involved in SMART meeting.
  • In SMART each addicts finds their own path to recovery. There is no one solution fits all.
  • SMART does not focus on beliefs but rather on rational analysis and taking action.
  • In SMART religious and spiritual beliefs are not essential in solving the problem of addiction.
  • Addiction is not a life-long sentence in SMART.
  • Meetings are self-help groups rather than support groups.


SMART Recovery – Online Meeting Directory

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About the author

Robert M. has been in recovery since 1988. He is a sponsor and loyal member of AA. He has been working in the drug and alcohol field for nearly 20 years. During that time, he has written industry blogs and articles for a variety of industry websites including Transitions, Malibu Horizons, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches and Lifeskills of Boca Raton.


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