SMART Recovery: What You Need to Know


Staying free from drugs, alcohol, or other addictive behavior can be extremely difficult. The stigma of being labeled an alcoholic or an addict adds to the complications of living a sober life. SMART Recovery is an alternative solution for many who are struggling with these issues.


SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. This nonprofit organization is based on the premise that individuals can (and at some point, should) be empowered to be in control of their own impulses. SMART offers free face-to-face peer support as well as online discussion groups. Online services always have someone available to assist you. Publications with informative information to help abstain are also available at low cost.


SMART’s approach is based on scientific methods that have been proven to motivate addicted individuals and reshape their attitudes about the behavior that can trigger a relapse. Some of the principles of SMART are taken from Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). The idea is to help with the area of rational thinking and help individuals take responsibility for the decisions they make. The focus is on the here and now. Although our past may have influenced some of our decisions, the future can still be written. We can’t change the past, but we CAN make changes to have the best today and tomorrow. In this way, permanent recovery is possible from overindulgence in:


  • Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine
  • Illegal drugs, over the counter drugs, and prescription medication
  • Gambling, sexual behavior, overeating, and excessive spending


SMART Family & Friends is an online or face-to-face support group for Concerned Significant Others (CSOs) of those who are struggling with abstinence. The Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) program is a scientifically-based intervention designed to help significant others (CSOs) positively influence their loved one to accept treatment and/or support. The CRAFT program has been shown to be effective with better success rates than many other programs.


An adaptation of the handbook has been designed for use in a group setting for teens and youth who are experiencing addictive behavior.


The basis of your recovery in the SMART program starts with abstinence, completely avoiding the substance or behavior that triggered the addiction. Individuals learn four key points while in the program:


  • How to stay motivated to abstain
  • How to cope with cravings
  • How to address thoughts and behaviors that may lead to temptation
  • How to lead a balanced life without harmful substances or behaviors


SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) Recovery combines a strong support community with evidence-based methods of counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and motivational techniques.


Participants are encouraged to share personal experiences regarding what helps them the most to steer clear of tricky situations. The meetings are non-confrontations – they are simply to raise cognitive awareness and to motivate everyone who attends.


Volunteers who believe in the concepts of SMART become facilitators by donating their time to organize and lead the discussions. There are also volunteers who are advisors and are available to assist the facilitators, especially in the event of a crisis.


All persons seeking support should be made aware of all the treatment and support options available. Being involved and having choices is an important part of long