Many people who have attended inpatient or outpatient treatment for substance abuse and addiction find aftercare helpful in maintaining sobriety and for ongoing support as they transition back to their lives after treatment. While 12-step programs like Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous remain the most popular alternatives for aftercare and ongoing peer support after treatment, SMART Recovery is a growing option for group support on a regular basis.
Principles of SMART Recovery
SMART Recovery is a free program that has 2,200 groups meeting worldwide, including in Colorado, as well as online groups for those that cannot attend a face-to-face meeting or do not have a group in their area. SMART’s group meetings are based on cognitive behavioral techniques and use evidence-based principles to help participants remain sober and manage their recovery.
The four principles of SMART’s program are building and maintaining motivation, coping with urges, managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and living a balanced life. Tools and techniques are presented, and participants are encouraged to practice them until they become natural habits that support a balanced life in recovery.
Some of these tools include role-playing, cost-benefit analysis, and change planning worksheets. SMART’s program understands that not everyone responds in the same way to triggers and other obstacles to recovery, and encourages participants to use the tools that work best for them.
Differences from 12-Step Programs
There are some differences between SMART Recovery and other group-based recovery programs, particularly 12-step programs. SMART Recovery is not centered around a belief in a higher power but focuses on self-directed methods for overcoming addiction. SMART Recovery groups are also discussion-based, whereas 12-step programs focus on one person sharing his or her story at a time while the rest of the group listens.
SMART’s program focuses on each person finding his or her own path to recovery, which their materials say can include other groups like NA/AA, Women for Sobriety, or LifeRing Secular Recovery. While 12-step programs are centered on following the 12 steps, SMART Recovery is focused on finding what works for the individual, including other programs outside itself.
Online message boards and 24/7 chat rooms are additional resources that can be a help to participants and offer support even when meetings are not in session. These resources may function similarly to 12-step program’s sponsors, who can provide support and help between meetings.
Administration of the Program
SMART Recovery meetings are led by a facilitator, who is a trained volunteer with the organization. Because SMART Recovery is non-profit, its facilitators and other local personnel are all volunteers, which is something it shares with 12-step programs and others like it. Facilitators may be licensed therapists or counselors, but they do not deliver therapy or counseling as part of SMART Recovery programs.
If you or any of your loved ones are struggling with substance abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol, Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is a Colorado drug rehab facility that provides comprehensive treatment that is customized to each person’s needs. Contact us today for more information about your treatment options and needs.