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What is SMART Recovery?
SMART Recovery, short for Self-Management and Recovery Training, is a type of addiction recovery program which aims to help people cope and recuperate from all kinds of addiction, from alcohol abuse to gambling and drug abuse. This program is not the same as the famous 12-step program used by the Alcoholics Anonymous and the Narcotics Anonymous.
The SMART Recovery program is an alternative 12 steps that hold various face-to-face meetings in different venues around the world and also sponsors daily online meetings. Aside from these, they also have a chat room which is open and active 24/7 and online message boards. Both of these are excellent platforms to learn more about the SMART Recovery program and to get support for one’s addiction recovery.
SMART Recovery aims to aid and support people who are in their path to recovery, by empowering them to alter their self-defeating mindset, feelings, and acts; and to proactively work towards improving their quality of life.
In a SMART Recovery program, the approaches used to cope up with addiction include the following:
- Teaching the addicted individual the power of self-reliance and self-improvement.
- Encouraging addicted individuals to overcome their addiction and try living fulfilling lives.
- Introducing tools and strategies to encourage self-directed changes.
- Holds educational and open meetings and discussion to encourage sharing.
- Promotes proper use of prescribed medications and other psychological treatment methods.
- Promotes advances and progress in scientific knowledge of addiction recovery methods.
All these tools work to help the recovering addict gain freedom and power over their addiction and their dangerous behaviors. The participants are persuaded to know how to apply each tool as they reach their goal of having a balanced and fulfilling life.
How does SMART Recovery Work?
According to a study published in the Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery titled “SMART Recovery: Self-Empowering, Science-Based Addiction Recovery Support,” The SMART Recovery program is an alternative to AA, that centers on self-empowerment. Support resources like meetings and discussions are all geared towards providing information on how to stay motivated after getting out of rehab, how to curb one’s cravings for the addictive substances, and how to achieve a well-balanced lifestyle.
The encouraging thing about SMART Recovery meetings is the fact that they view relapse as an opportunity to talk about the experience and to get back up on your feet again. Relapse is not viewed as a failure, that’s why the individual experiencing it won’t have a hard time returning to abstinence.
SMART Recovery programs use the exercise called ABC to show the participants how to recognize and overcome their triggers. This particular exercise helps participants analyze any circumstance or event that may arise in the future and modify their mindset and behavioral patterns.
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These are the parts of the SMART Recovery’s ABC exercise:
- A stands for “Activating Experience”: Since every trigger starts when a specific event occurs, the first step of the exercise is to teach the participant to identify and describe the particular event which urged him to drink or use addictive substances again.
- B stands for “Beliefs” :Here, the participant is taught and encouraged to identify how he feels and how he thinks when a particular event occurs. Here, the participant is taught to identify his belief system regarding his triggers. Since beliefs come in various forms, from rational to wishful-based thought processes, to self-defeating thoughts, it’s important to track the participant’s belief system to know how to address and change the same into positive and empowered thoughts.
- C stands for “Consequences”: Here, the participant is taught that every thought and every action has a corresponding consequence. They are also taught that the consequences of something are the direct results of your thought process and your actions. This only means that since you have full control of your thoughts and your actions, you can actually take control of the outcome or consequences.
- D stands for “Disputes”:In this stage, the participant is taught how to challenge their negative belief systems by turning them into a question and answer process. By doing so, they will get a deeper understanding of why a particular action or event made them feel in a particular way.
- E stands for “Effects”: Here, the participant is shown that if they change their illogical thoughts and beliefs with rational and logical ones, their results will be better. This is done to help them form new behavioral patterns that will help them decrease their cravings for addictive substances.
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Smart Recovery Cost/Benefit Analysis
At SMART Recovery is believed that people can act rationally once they have learned how to move from a reactive to a proactive frame of mind. To achieve these Individuals are taught on therapy, how to weight the cost of engaging in destructive behavior before they act.
A cost-benefit analysis is one of the best, yet simpler ways of encouraging change. To do this, get a piece of paper and draw a line in the middle of it. On the left-hand side of the paper, write down all the benefits and advantages you get out of being addicted.
On the opposite side, write down all the negative effects and disadvantages of your addiction. If you can see that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits, then that’s a good sign telling that you’re ready to change your addictive patterns.
After finishing the advantages and benefits columns, try expanding your list by adding two more columns for the “cost of my addictive behavior“ and “the benefits of quitting my addictive behavior.” Under costs, you can include losing loved ones and important relationships and under benefits, writing a simple reason as “having more money for other things” will suffice.
As you continue to move forward in recovery, you will see that the cost of quitting will diminish. Those things that were once very important to you might lose their worth or you might encounter other ways to satisfy your cravings. For instance, you used to believe that it’s impossible to relax and to cure your depression if you don’t take drugs or alcohol, but as you progress in recovery, you can find other means of relaxing and dealing with your negative emotions.
Similarities and Differences to 12-Step Programs (Smart Recovery vs AA)
The similarity of SMART Recovery Programs and the 12-Step Program is that they both aim to help an individual deal and cope with his addiction and achieve a lifetime of sobriety.
Though both programs have similar end goals, their practices and tools widely differ.
Compared to the 12-Step Program, according to the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, the SMART Recovery program is more flexible when it comes to the program’s principles and core beliefs.
In AA, the individual is encouraged to surrender to his powerlessness. While in SMART Recovery, self-empowerment is viewed as a tool to lifetime recovery. AA participants are encouraged to surrender to a “higher power,” while SMART Recovery utilizes a fully secular approach to addiction recovery. Also in SMART Recovery, participants are highly encouraged to stick to an approach that fits their specific circumstances and needs like age, gender, the extent of addiction, and mental profile. The participants are neither taught they are powerless nor compelled to admit their addiction before a group of people.
In the SMART Recovery program, the focus is shifted to addiction rather in alcoholism. Also, SMART programs take addiction as a physical act of taking an addictive substance like alcohol or drugs. Furthermore, SMART believes that once an addict is already in recovery, his addiction no longer exists. In AA, the addicted individual is treated as an addict for the rest of his life.
One serious criticism about AA is that they dwell too much on their member’s past. In SMART Recovery, the focus is shifted on the individuals’ irrational thought processes that lead to a drug relapse in the present. SMART Recovery uses the ABC Exercise as their guidebook while AA uses the AA Big Book.
Graduating SMART Recovery Program
In an individual’s aftercare planning program, the therapist will play a very important role. As the individual graduates from recovery, his therapist will orient him on the sessions on what will later help him strengthen his coping mechanisms and skills.
For example, his therapist can discuss different situations that might involve drug use signals to help them come up with healthy responses. The therapies might also work with the family of the recovering individual to help with dynamics in the family and in managing interpersonal relationship among family members. The therapist will also help make sure that individuals who are graduating can incorporate and make use of their skills to improve their day to day lives and their relationships.
A social worker or a case manager might also intervene to help the graduating patient address his basic needs like housing, food, employment, transportation, and even child rearing and child care. These factors are important to avoid the risk of relapse. The good thing about recovery programs is regardless of the individual’s financial standing and economic background, they can offer the needed support services.
Is SMART for You?
The best way to know if the SMART Recovery program is the right treatment option for you, have yourself assessed and evaluated in a trusted addiction rehab facility. Through proper intake and assessment, the physician and the specialists at the rehab center can carefully go over your physical and mental conditions and draft the appropriate treatment plan to maximize your chance of recovery.
After assessment and intake, you will have to undergo detox and only after detox will you be starting your chosen treatment program. If the principles and the goal of the SMART Recovery program appeal to you, then you can also talk to your Addiction Specialist about this option.
The SMART treatment plan is very ideal for individuals who believe that they can win over their addiction through self-empowerment and changing their addiction belief systems. If you think that this will work best in your case, then you can suggest this during the intake process.
Why to choose Mountain Springs Recovery for your SMART Recovery Program?
If you or a loved one is struggling with any kind of addiction, it is best to get professional help at the soonest time possible. Though there are many addiction treatment facilities nearby, it is important to choose the right treatment facility who can help you achieve your goal of lifetime sobriety.
Here at Mountain Springs Recovery, we make sure that we offer you the right treatment plan in a safe, non-judgmental, and supportive environment for your addiction recovery.
Our process starts with intake and assessment which are performed by skilled and seasoned physicians and medical staff. These people will help you come up with the perfect treatment plan to help you fully recover. At the detox phase, you will be guided and assisted by our equally well-trained staff.
During treatment, we offer different treatment options and should you chose our SMART Recovery Program, you will be guided and assisted by licensed therapists and counselors. Also, you will undergo different sessions surrounded by empathetic and supportive people who will cheer you on your recovery journey.
At Mountain Springs Recovery, we will make sure that you will get the help you need. Call us today and let’s start your addiction recovery journey!