“Top Five Answers Are on the Board”
If you found yourself on a quiz show and the topic was “names of substance use disorder recovery programs” (we admit this would be an odd category), how many could you name?
There’s an excellent chance you could name one—and a pretty good chance you could name two.
The sure thing: Alcoholics Anonymous.
The likely thing: Narcotics Anonymous.
SMART Recovery and Alternatives
Those two programs—complete with the 12-Step approach to lasting recovery—are easily the best known to the general public. They show up in our pop culture all of the time (though not always by name), so most everyone has at least a passing familiarity with them.
But that doesn’t mean they are the only recovery programs available—or the only ones that can truly help someone in recovery from a substance use disorder. Not even close.
Take, for example, SMART Recovery, an alternative to 12-Step programs that might be especially appealing to those who are not entirely comfortable with the religious underpinnings of AA and NA or who value an ethos of self-reliance.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes SMART, well, smart for some people.
Unpacking an Acronym
SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. It is a non-profit organization that—like AA and NA—provides free support groups all around the country for those in recovery. SMART Recovery is science-based and secular and focused on helping participants completely abstain from using drugs or alcohol.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy (which focuses on helping in dealing with irrational beliefs that have a negative impact on thoughts, emotions, and behaviors) are central to SMART Recovery—as is a focus on individual choice-making.
Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) is a global community of mutual-support groups. At meetings, participants help one another resolve problems with any addiction (to drugs or alcohol or to activities such as gambling or over-eating). Participants find and develop the power within themselves to change and lead fulfilling and balanced lives guided by our science-based and sensible 4-Point Program®.
From 12 Steps to 4 Points
You no doubt noticed that SMART Recovery has a 4-Point Program rather than the more familiar 12-Step programs associated with Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous. What are the 4 Points?
- Point One: Building and Maintaining Motivation to Abstain – The program encourages participants to make a list of priorities and to carefully compare the benefits and costs of sobriety versus substance use. Referring back to the cost/benefit list can be an effective way to stand firm against temptation—which brings us to the second point.
- Point Two: Coping with Urges – Cravings are an unfortunate fact of recovery, so learning techniques and thought processes designed to help you fend them off is a key part of SMART Recovery.
- Point Three: Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors – Fostering a sense of self-acceptance and working toward intentional management of difficult emotions are also central to the program. Knowing how thoughts and feelings lead to behaviors is a first step toward managing all of them.
- Point Four: Living a Balanced Life – We mentioned that the first point often includes making a list of priorities. That list is important to the fourth point as well. Identifying priorities and then setting realistic goals and making plans to accomplish them can lead to life that is more balanced—and substance-free.
SMART Recovery Program
As we have noted, SMART Recovery is built around ideas of personal agency—self-empowerment, self-directed change, self-reliance, and the like. The program emphasizes personal accountability as a key concept that provides a foundation for ongoing sobriety. It is important to keep in mind that these ideas of personal responsibility and accountability are not the same as the faulty idea that you can overcome a substance use disorder by the strength of your willpower alone. Instead, SMART Recovery offers an alternative to AA’s notion that “a Power greater than ourselves” is necessary for long-term sobriety.
Make the Smart Move and Get the Help You Need
When it comes to helping people regain their sobriety and move forward into recovery with confidence, we don’t mind telling you that we are pretty darn smart. At Bel Aire Recovery Center, we have the expertise and experience necessary to create personalized treatment plans that help those we serve get sober and stay sober. But you won’t have a cold and clinical experience at Bel Aire because we offer compassionate care grounded in our commitment to treat each person as an individual. If you are ready to get help overcoming a substance use disorder, the smart move is to contact us right away.