SMART RecoveryDrug abuse and addiction have become major social issues around the globe. Programs for the treatment of addiction have developed innovative new methods for effective recovery treatments that provide lasting results. Those seeking addiction treatments can find a variety of options that suit their situation and preferences best. One choice is the organization called SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training).  SMART Recovery is a program which employs scientific approaches such as motivational, cognitive, and behavioral techniques evolving from real case instances, but as a secular approach that represents a unique addiction treatment.

SMART Recovery was incorporated in 1992 as the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network (ADASHN). In 1994 the organization began operating as SMART Recovery. It is an international, not-for-profit organization. It represents a philosophy of self-empowerment involving methods such as motivational interviews, or Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), in combination with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) methodologies like Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

Stages of Change

SMART Recovery recognizes that individuals may be at various stages of substance abuse/addiction.

These are defined as:

  1. Pre-contemplation – participants may not be convinced that they have a problem.
  2. Contemplation – participants evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of their lifestyle choice.
  3. Determination – the resolve to undergo personal changes.
  4. Action – seeking new ways of handling addictive behavior.
  5. Maintenance – after several months the participant should have made progress and seeks ways to secure these gains.
  6. Graduation – after a participant has sustained lifestyle improvements for a longer period, they have the option of “graduating” from the program.

It’s recognized that relapses at any point are a common occurrence and are treated as learning experiences.

What Makes SMART Recovery Different?

Participants in SMART Recovery programs are encouraged to focus on a 4-Point Program during recovery treatment.

This encourages people seeking treatment to focus on these main areas:

  1. Controlling urges
  2. Increasing and sustaining motivations to abstain from drug use
  3. Balancing short and long-term satisfaction while seeking a balanced lifestyle
  4. Using problem-solving techniques to effectively manage thoughts, behavior, and feelings.

The “SMART Toolbox” is a collection of behavioral therapy techniques that address these four points. This treatment program does not follow the familiar “12 step” approach pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous, but can be used in conjunction with those programs for additional support.

The SMART Recovery program seeks to realize the following goals through a scientific course of treatment:

  • A sense of self-empowerment and self-reliance
  • Support, open discussion, encouragement, and education in combating drug addiction
  • Recognition of addiction as a destructive pattern with physiological factors and consequences
  • Adapt and improve techniques as new scientific knowledge and methods appear
  • Teach the importance of personal responsibility in creating change

The validity and effectiveness of treatment through the SMART Recovery program is recognized by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, the NIH (National Institutes of Health), the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), and the American Academy of Family Physicians.