SMART 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 feel connected as they take their journey to recovery. And many alternatives to AA have popped up. It is the most extensive alternative recovery program today. It is a self-help support group rooted in a scientific foundation that believes one should learn how to be self-reliant and not be powerless. The program assumes that each individual finds their road to recovery.
The motivational interviewing principles found in motivational enhancement therapy and use techniques from Cognitive Behavior Therapy are available in the program. The program emphasizes four main areas that they refer to as the 4-point program in their recovery process. The 4-point program;
- Buildings & maintaining motivation
- Coping with urges
- Managing feelings, behaviors, and thoughts
- Living a balanced life
The program recognizes that the participants may be in any of the six stages of change and different exercises are helpful at the various stages. The Stages are;
- Pre-contemplation – 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 – They acknowledge they have a problem and seek solutions to the problem. They struggle to understand their situation and the solutions available.
- Preparation – In this stage, people have started planning to make adjustments before changing their behavior.
- Action – They start making behavior changes as they learn how to overcome the tendencies of their unwanted behavior. They begin to get new insight and develop new skills.
- Maintenance – Action is not the end of change. There must be a solid commitment to avoid relapse.
- Graduation – They express confidence and enjoy self-control. Grads have adopted a new self-image consistent with the desired behavior and lifestyle.
Method of change
Processes refer to activities that affect change. The method of change is;
- 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 issue by weighing the 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 an intimate environment to avoid problem-causing events.
- Rewards – the affirmation of the desired behavior by others and yourself
- Helping relationships – receiving care and support from influential people in your life.
Differences to AA
- Discussions, where people collaborate to solve a problem, are involved in the SMART meeting
- Each addict finds their path to recovery. No one solution fits all
- It does not focus on beliefs but rather on rational analysis and taking action
- Religious and spiritual beliefs are not essential in solving the problem of addiction
- Addiction is not a life-long sentence
- Meetings are self-help groups rather than support groups