SMART Recovery: What You Need to KnowIf you (or someone you know and love) have a drug addiction, you will hit “rock bottom.” When that happens, the SMART Recovery program may look like a viable solution to your problem. But, at “rock bottom,” it’s difficult to make a decision that will impact the rest of your life as you know it. Let’s take a look at the SMART Recovery program in detail. What is it? What does its commitment entail? Is it right for you or your loved one? Can you “get clean” once and for all?

What Is SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery is a world-renowned nonprofit organization that focuses on helping people with addiction. Its team includes some of the world’s most prominent doctors.

An acronym for “Self-Management and Recovery Training,” SMART Recovery is an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

These programs all aim to help the addict manage addictions and stay in recovery. But there are also many differences between the programs.

SMART Recovery, AA, and NA all share the ultimate goal of achieving abstinence from drug/alcohol use and abuse. While this should go without saying, these types of programs also provide addicts with the proper tools to manage their addiction.

While addiction can never really be cured, it’s possible to effectively manage it. Moreover, addiction is not a moral or ethical failure on the addict’s part.

The management of addiction must reach the point of abstaining from using drugs/alcohol at all. Abstinence from an addictive substance is, after all, the key to a happy and healthy life.

The AA/NA Approach

SMART Recovery, AA and NA take different approaches to the nature of addiction. Neither Alcoholics Anonymous nor Narcotics Anonymous are medical organizations. So they take a less therapeutic approach to the treatment of the addict. Meetings are often informal and run by fellow addicts from different walks of life.

But there are some AA and NA groups that host meetings specific to different types of addicts. For example, there are some AA and NA meetings exclusive to women, people of color, or LGBTQIA individuals, and so on. Also, some meetings are in foreign languages, such as Spanish, French, Farsi, and Creole.

These meetings that are demographically specific are not intentionally discriminatory. Rather, they exist to give addicts the opportunity to get help from addicts just like themselves.

Additionally, there are different types of meetings one can attend while in AA or NA. There are weekly meetings, during which addicts can share their stories. These meetings are “closed,” meaning that there can be no outside observers or influences.

“Open”meetings are open to addicts and non-addicts alike, which means that other people can come in as observers.

During “speaker meetings,” a speaker from another AA or NA group comes and speaks to the group in attendance. These meetings are sometimes called “gratitude meetings.”

And “twelve-step meetings” encourage attendees to break off into sub-groups and work together on sobriety.

Throughout it all, AA and NA take a faith-based approach to recovery. The second of the “Twelve Steps” says that only a power higher than oneself can “restore” the addict to sanity. The third of the “Twelve Steps” says that addicts needs to turn their life over to God “as we understand him.”

Founders Bill Wilson and Bob Smith were religious, but their programs have offered “no prayer” AA and NA groups since the 1970s.

Finally, AA and NA have been responsible for today’s disease concepts of alcoholism and drug addiction. The initial literature about AA and NA avoided using the word “disease” to describe addiction. But the official stance of the organizations after 1973 is that alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases. Also, the “Big Book” of AA states that alcoholism is a disease that “only a spiritual experience can conquer.”

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SMART Recovery: Its Approach

SMART Recovery takes a different approach to recovery from addiction. From its start, SMART Recovery has made it clear that it’s not an offshoot of AA or NA.

When it was first founded in 1992, the organization’s name was Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network (ADASHN).

From 1994 onward, the SMART Recovery program eschewed the faith-based approach to recovery. This made it the preferred recovery method for both agnostic and atheist addicts.

SMART Recovery counselors prefer to take a scientific approach to recovery. They don’t tell addicts to “turn their life over to God.” As a result, SMART Recovery methods evolve as the scientific understanding of addiction evolves.

According to its website, SMART Recovery “is based on cognitive behavioral therapy and rational emotive behavior therapy.” Those in the program don’t label their addiction as a “disease.” SMART Recovery teaches addicts that doing so is disempowering.

SMART Recovery also does not require that addicts believe in a “higher power” to take part in the program. The counselors prefer to use “common sense” techniques and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

Developed in the 1950s by psychologist Albert Ellis, REBT is a form of cognitive behavior therapy.

REBT places the onus on addicts to change their behaviors and lead a life free of drugs and alcohol. With REBT, it is the addicts’ responsibility to get clean and stay clean. This empowerment enables them to make responsible decisions, and they realize that a misstep is not an irreparable failure.

For example, SMART Recovery counselors believe that drinking does serve a purpose. The purpose is that it allows for temporary relief from life’s problems. But they also recognize that excessive drinking leads to a series of other problems. And those problems include that this type of “coping” is counterproductive.

The addicts then enter SMART Recovery. Here, they learn to manage the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that cause them to act in such a way that is counterproductive to their well-being. As they do so, SMART Recovery empowers the addicts to quit their destructive behaviors.

Who Benefits From SMART Recovery?

The SMART Recovery program is more appealing to some addicts than others for many reasons.
Here are some examples:

  1. Addicts who eschew faith for science prefer SMART Recovery. An agnostic or an atheist addict may feel out of place in an AA or NA meeting that focuses on a “higher power.” But that same addict in SMART Recovery will feel much more comfortable, since there is no reference to a deity of any kind.
  2. If an addict responds well to structure, discipline, and an actionable plan of attack, SMART Recovery may be the right plan. Different people respond to different stimuli. Those who prefer an action plan often choose SMART Recovery.
  3. If addicts accept failure as part of the process, SMART Recovery is right for them. Longtime addicts understand that there’s no such thing as “quitting” drinking. Sobriety is a long marathon, not a short sprint. And along the way, an addict will stumble and, indeed, fall.

But addicts need to be patient with the recovery journey. They must accept impulses as a normal part of the recovery process. And they must recognize “triggers” when they occur. In so doing, addicts can take control of the recovery process. And they will accept that some things are inevitable but necessary for a successful recovery.

  1. Finally, if an addict is self-motivated, SMART Recovery is a good choice. Relapse is not a “failure” in the SMART Recovery program. Rather, proponents see it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and be better the next time. There is no “starting over.” Relapses are simply mistakes. According to the program, this attitude helps with successful abstinence. Addicts who show self-responsibility, self-motivation, and self-discipline will be successful.

Addicts in the SMART Recovery program are also able to set achievable goals. And they will replace self-destructive thoughts with more constructive, healthy thoughts.

Is SMART Recovery Right for You? Come to Transformations Treatment Center to Find Out

People become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol for many reasons. But how they become addicted is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the addicts seek and obtain help for their addiction. And that’s where Transformations Treatment Center comes in.

Our excellent diagnostics, assessments, treatment planning, and medical care are second to none. Transformations Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center helps clients stop their drug and alcohol use. But above all, we teach them how to maintain that lifestyle so they can get their lives and relationships back on track.

Once you do get back on track, we’ll help you with post-rehab programs so you can maintain a positive lifestyle. These post-rehab programs include SMART Recovery. Our continuum of care stretches from detox to an alumni program – we help keep clients on the right path forever. Our specialists are here to guide you through every step of the process. And even if you stumble or outright fall, we’re here to help you get back up.

Because we understand that recovery is not a zero sum game. It is not a “win or lose” situation. It’s a continual practice of good habits. It’s a “rewiring” of your mind to think better of yourself and others – and to want more. It’s a thought process that teaches you to love yourself and those around you. And most of all, it’s the first step in the right direction to benefit the rest of your life.

We’re proud of the treatment center we’ve created and the staff we’ve hired to help clients overcome addiction and move on to lead happy, fulfilling lives. So if you, or someone you love, are suffering from an addiction and are ready to get help, contact us today to get started. Transformations Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center is the place in Delray Beach, Florida, where hurting ends and healing begins.

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