SMART Recovery (SMART) is a science-based programme to help people manage their recovery from any type of addictive behaviour. This includes addictive behaviour with substances such as alcohol, nicotine or drugs, or compulsive behaviours such as gambling, sex, eating, shopping, self-harming and so on. SMART stands for ‘Self Management And Recovery Training’.
SMART began in 1994 in the United States. It has grown into a worldwide network of self-help meetings, both face-to-face and online, where participants can get help from others in recovery. SMART operates as a non-profit organisation in many countries including the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia.
There is no single approach to recovery that is right for everyone. Research into various recovery methods and therapies suggests that mutual aid can help recovery and so can treatment – a combination of the two is probably even better for many people.
SMART Recovery helps participants decide whether they have a problem, builds up their motivation to change and offers a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery. This is the SMART Recovery 4-point programme:
1. Building and maintaining motivation
2. Coping with urges
3. Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours
4. Living a balanced life
People can stay with SMART as long as they wish. There is no requirement to make a lifetime commitment to the programme, just to their recovery and leading a healthier life.
Many people find that continuing to participate in SMART after they have recovered helps them avoid lapses or relapses. Some will volunteer to train as facilitators and set up further meetings. Others simply continue to attend meetings and share their experiences with others.
Within SMART, labels are not thought to help with recovery and are avoided. People are not called ‘addicts’, ‘alcoholics’, ’druggies’, ’overeaters’, ’sex addicts’ or other disparaging label within meetings.
SMART Recovery will not be able to help with every kind of problem and participants are encouraged to seek professional help when needed.
There are degrees of addictive behaviour and almost everyone will experience this, to some degree, at some point in their life. For some, addictive behaviour will overwhelm their life and SMART Recovery can be an important and effective part of their recovery journey.