How Can SMART Recovery Help?

SMART Recovery is a mutual support organisation that focuses on evidence-based treatments for alcoholism recovery. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training.

SMART’s approach offers an alternative to the spiritual approach adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). SMART assists not only those directly affected by alcoholism but also their family members and friends.

Like AA, SMART Recovery meetings are available in most UK cities and large towns.

Whilst AA is based on the 12 Steps, SMART’s approach is based on cognitive behaviour therapy and rational emotive behavioural therapy. SMART disagrees with the disease theory of addiction, preferring to believe that addiction is a choice. SMART adopts this approach in order to empower its members.

It’s also worth noting that SMART is not exclusively set up to assist those affected by alcoholism. SMART is also targeted to people suffering from drug addiction and behavioural addictions (such as food addiction, sex addiction and gambling addiction).

How may SMART Recovery help me?

SMART Recovery’s primary aim is to assist you in feeling self-empowered. Whilst other support groups will tell you that addiction is a disease and not a choice, SMART takes the opposite viewpoint by insisting that your addiction is a choice and so something that’s within your power to control.

During SMART meetings, you will be assisted in developing strategies to help you beat cravings. The importance of living a healthy and balanced life is also stressed. Many people attending SMART Recovery meetings will do so after completing residential/inpatient rehab. It’s during this period that SMART Recovery meetings will be most beneficial in helping you avoid relapse.

Some of the issues covered during SMART Recovery meetings include:

  • How to develop patience with your recovery
  • How to ensure rational and healthy beliefs are not overcome with self-destructive thoughts and emotions
  • How to resist cravings to return to drug and alcohol use
  • How to recognise and control addiction triggers and impulses
  • How to set goals and milestones that are achievable
  • How to develop a sense of self-responsibility for your actions and how to grow self-discipline and self-motivation for your recovery

It’s also important to stress that you will not be reprimanded by your SMART Recovery group if you experience a relapse. In fact, SMART Recovery views relapse as part of your recovery journey. If relapse occurs, the group will assist you in getting back on track. This is because SMART Recovery views relapse as a mistake and not as a failure on your behalf.

The ABC model

SMART Recovery has established an exercise known as the ABCs. It’s actually the ABCDE model, but ‘ABCs’ clearly is a more catchy name. The ABCs assist you in alternating thoughts and feelings that arise from stressful experiences. Doing so allows you to choose an alternative course of action that does not involve substance misuse.

Below, we shall outline the ABC model:

A: Activating Experience

The activating experience is what is thought to give life to addiction triggers. During SMART Recovery sessions, you will be assisted in identifying experiences that activate your addiction triggers.

B: Beliefs

SMART Recovery teaches that beliefs arise from the activating event. You will be encouraged to analyse the beliefs that arise from the activating event so you are better able to challenge them to stop destructive behaviour from arising in the first place.

C: Consequences

Consequences arise from actions you take as a result of activating events and beliefs.

D: Disputes

Disputes are about disputing your beliefs. You are encouraged to identify negative beliefs and convert them into questions and answers. Doing so will allow you to objectively analyse why certain events course you to act in self-destructive ways.

E: Effects

Effects are the positive results you are able to generate from substituting negative thoughts and beliefs with positive alternatives. In time, you will be able to establish positive behavioural patterns that replace destructive behaviours that encourage alcohol abuse.

SMART Recovery’s 4-Point Programme

The 4-Point programme is an essential element of SMART’s approach to helping its members sustain their recovery. Below, we take a look at each aspect of the 4-Point Programme:

Here’s a closer look at the individual points of the 4-Point Program:

Point 1: Build and maintain motivation

When you are new to recovery, building and then maintaining motivation for your recovery is key if you are to avoid relapse. When you are new to recovery, temptation and cravings will still play an influential role in your life and you need to remain motivated to ensure you do not give into these negative forces.

SMART Recovery helps members brainstorm creative ways to charge their motivation for their recovery. Some common ways of doing so are to attend mutual support groups, take up a hobby and to attend therapy sessions. The number of ways to stay motivated is only limited by your imagination.

Point 2: Cope with urges

Urges will undoubtedly serve to threaten your recovery once you have completed rehab. SMART Recovery assists you in recognising urges and then developing the skills to cope with them. You will also develop avoidance strategies to help prevent you from exposing yourself to situations where you may not be able to overcome urges to drink alcohol, use drugs or engage in certain behaviours.

Point 3: Manage thoughts, feelings and behaviours

Perhaps the most important task of SMART Recovery is to assist you in substituting negative thoughts and beliefs with healthier and more productive alternative. Undergoing this process is also about teaching you that you do have a choice in the way you perceive events that arise during your life. This process does take practice, but in time you will master the art of positive thinking thanks to a number of evidence-based treatments offered through SMART Recovery.

Point 4: Live a balanced life

Point 4 is the ultimate aim of SMART Recovery. All of the preceding steps are merely a means of achieving a healthy and balanced life. However, living a balanced life is not just about your thinking. It’s also about how you spend your time, the food that you eat and the company that you choose to keep. SMART Recovery will assist you in each of these aspects so that a healthy and balanced life is achievable.

Final thoughts…

SMARTs huge growth over the last decade is a testimony to the fact that it works. Perhaps SMARTs key benefit is instilling the belief that you do have a choice when it comes to how you live your life and how you process the world that’s going on around you.

We recommend you combine SMART Recovery with other recovery groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s impossible to say which approach will be best suited to your needs until you try each approach out for yourself.

SMART Recovery also maintains a vibrant online recovery community. We encourage you to check out SMART Recovery’s website here to assess these online resources and to locate a SMART Recovery meeting in your area.

We recommend that you read through the above questions and answers carefully. If you require further information, contact our advisors today and for free on 0800 111 4108.  Alternatively, you may also contact us through this website and a member of our team will respond shortly.