There is no shortage of 12-step programs in the United States. These programs come in all shapes and varieties – targeting alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and compulsive behavioral addictions (gambling, porn, etc.). While many people find these programs beneficial for recovery, some may feel like the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t quite meet their needs.
Recovering from addiction is a long road with many different options for treatment. Addiction treatment centers offer a variety of approaches – from traditional therapies to holistic treatment. In recent years, a new alternative to 12-step programs called SMART Recovery has become popular, offering a scientific-based approach to addiction recovery.
What is SMART Recovery?
SMART Recovery stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. It was established in 1994 by clinical psychologist Dr. Joseph Gerstein and Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP, SMART Recovery is a science-based approach to addiction recovery that empowers individuals to take control of their lives and overcome addictive behaviors.
Unlike traditional 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), SMART Recovery does not rely on a spiritual foundation or higher power. Instead, it emphasizes self-empowerment, self-reliance, and evidence-based techniques to achieve sobriety and lead a fulfilling life.
Over the years, SMART Recovery has continued to evolve, incorporating the latest research in addiction science and psychology. It has become a global community of individuals dedicated to helping one another achieve and maintain sobriety.
How SMART Recovery Works
SMART Recovery operates on the principle that individuals have the power to change their addictive behaviors and live a life free from substances or addictive behaviors. It provides a structured framework and tools to help individuals take control of their lives and make lasting changes.
The 4-Point Program
At the core of SMART Recovery is the 4-Point Program, which serves as a guide for individuals on their journey to recovery. Here’s an overview of each point:
- Building and Maintaining Motivation – This point focuses on understanding one’s reasons for change and enhancing motivation. Participants learn to identify their values, set goals, and develop a strong commitment to recovery.
- Coping with Urges – Individuals are equipped with strategies to manage cravings and urges effectively. SMART Recovery emphasizes the use of evidence-based techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral tools, to navigate through challenging moments.
- Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors – Participants explore the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They learn how to identify and challenge irrational thoughts and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
- Living a Balanced Life – The final point encourages individuals to create a balanced and fulfilling life in recovery. It involves setting achievable goals, developing positive relationships, and finding purpose beyond addiction.
ABC’s of the SMART Recovery Program
In addition to the 4-Point Program, SMART Recovery uses the ABC’s to help individuals understand their addictive behaviors:
- A – Activating Event: Identifying the trigger or situation that leads to the urge to use substances or engage in addictive behavior.
- B – Belief System: Recognizing the thoughts and beliefs associated with the triggering event.
- C – Consequences: Understanding the consequences of acting on these beliefs and how they impact one’s life.
By dissecting these elements, individuals can gain insight into their addictive patterns and work towards healthier responses.
Similarities and Differences Between SMART Recovery and 12-Step Programs
The ultimate goal of any addiction treatment program is to achieve and maintain sobriety, but there are similarities and differences between these programs that differentiate them from one another. While the end point may be the same, you can think of the approaches like different paths along the long road – there is no straight line or easy way to achieve long-term sobriety.
How Are SMART Recovery and 12-Step Programs Similar?
SMART Recovery and 12-step programs both aim to support individuals on the road to recovery, offering a sense of community, peer support, and encouraging personal growth and self-improvement. Each program offers these similarities – but they do it in their own way.
How Are SMART Recovery and 12-Step Programs Different?
SMART Recovery is secular and science-based, it does not involve spiritual or religious components like most 12-step programs. 12-step programs also classify addiction as something a person is powerless against, relying on spiritual principles that are structured with an approach requiring participants to complete one step before moving on to the next. SMART Recovery, on the other hand, is built on the principle that addiction is not a lifelong disease and it is a behavior that can be changed through self-management.
SMART Recovery Meetings
SMART Recovery meetings provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences, challenges, and successes in recovery. These meetings can be held in-person or attending SMART Recovery meetings online, making them accessible to people from all walks of life.
During meetings, participants discuss their progress, learn new strategies, and receive encouragement from facilitators and peers. SMART Recovery meetings are based on a structured agenda that aligns with the 4-Point Program, ensuring that participants receive practical guidance and support.
SMART Recovery for Addiction Treatment
SMART Recovery is not limited to standalone meetings; it is also integrated into addiction treatment programs. Many treatment centers recognize the value of evidence-based approaches and offer SMART Recovery as part of their services. Combining the two allows individuals to get the most out of traditional therapeutic methods using SMART Recovery’s empowerment principles, increasing their chances of successful recovery.
Who Can Benefit from SMART Recovery?
SMART Recovery is a versatile program that can benefit a wide range of people who are struggling with addictive behaviors. It is particularly suitable for those who:
- Prefer a secular, science-based approach to recovery.
- Want to actively participate in their treatment and recovery journey.
- Seek a supportive community that emphasizes self-empowerment and self-reliance.
- Are looking for an alternative to 12-step programs or have not found success with them.
SMART Recovery and Addiction Treatment in NC
SMART Recovery offers a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to addiction recovery. It empowers individuals to take control of their lives, build motivation, cope with urges, manage thoughts and feelings, and create a balanced life in recovery. This alternative approach to traditional 12-step programs gives someone who is seeking addiction treatment another option that aligns with their personal goals.
If you or a loved one is looking for SMART Recovery in NC, call Southeastern Recovery Center today to discuss your holistic addiction treatment options. Our experienced staff can guide you through the process of starting an addiction treatment program, and help you decide if SMART Recovery or SMART Recovery meetings are right for you.