Mind Your Mind: What is SMART Recovery?

According to its official website, SMART Recovery is an organization that aims to help people struggling with all types of addiction. I haven’t facilitated one of its meetings yet, but I’m currently completing their facilitator training. SMART Recovery is so unique and customizable to each community, allowing for differing ways of organizing meetings throughout the program.

SMART stands for self-management and recovery training. The program offers mutual-support groups led by a facilitator and participants learn tools and strategies to help them manage addiction.

Its ‘4-Point Program’ includes: 

  • Building and maintaining motivation to change.
  • Coping with urges to use.
  • Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours in an effective way.
  • Living a balanced, positive and healthy life. 

It’s important to know that SMART Recovery uses an abstinence approach. This means that the goal is to refrain from all behaviours related to a person’s addiction. Some other programs use a moderation approach, which means that it is okay to engage in the behaviours from time to time, as long as it’s effective for the person in the moment.

SMART is grounded in evidence-based therapies, including cognitive behaviour therapy, rational emotive behaviour therapy and motivational enhancement therapy.

It is also important to mention that counsellors and therapists are not the only people who can be facilitators. Anyone who completes the SMART Recovery training can lead a meeting.

Each meeting starts with a participant check in and an agenda is set. For example, the focus of a particular meeting might be to review the pros and cons of engaging in addictive behaviours. Or, for instance, another topic might be disputing irrational beliefs, which usually keep people in the addiction cycle. Each meeting also includes a group discussion.

Participants help each other and focus on the idea that they are not powerless and can make changes in their lives.

To find a meeting, visit http://smartrecoverybc.com.

The authors of this column are not mental health professionals. If you need additional support, please contact Student Health Services, the Sexual Assault Support Centre and/or the Wellness Centre. In case of an emergency, call 911.