SMART Recovery

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SMART Recovery (Self Management and Recovery Training) is an international non-profit organization which provides assistance to individuals seeking abstinence from addictive behaviors. The approach used is secular and scientifically based using non-confrontational motivational, behavioral and cognitive methods.[1] Meeting participants learn recovery methods derived from evidence-based addiction treatments.[citation needed] Substance/activity dependence is viewed by the organization as a dysfunctional habit (rather than a disease), while allowing that it is possible that certain people have a predisposition towards addictive behavior.[2]


SMART Recovery is based on scientific knowledge, and is intended to evolve as scientific knowledge evolves.[3] The program uses principles of motivational interviewing found in Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET),[4] and techniques taken from Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), particularly in the version called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), as well as scientifically validated research on treatment.[5]

The organization's program emphasizes four areas (called the 4-Point Program) in the process of recovery: Building Motivation, Coping with Urges, Problem Solving, and Lifestyle Balance.[6] The "SMART Toolbox" is a collection of various MET, CBT and REBT methods (or "tools") which address the 4 Points.[7]

SMART Recovery can be used as a stand-alone primary recovery support program for those seeking help recovering from addictions, but does not insist on being exclusive.[8] The program does not use the twelve steps which make up the basis of the various "Anonymous" self-help groups (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), etc.) and is generally listed as an "Alternative to AA" or an "Alternative to the Twelve Steps."[9][10][11] SMART Recovery believes that each individual finds his/her own path to recovery. Though listed as an "alternative", it is also suggested as a possible "supplement" to twelve-step programs in SMART Recovery's main program publication, The SMART Recovery Handbook.[12]

Stages of change[edit]

SMART Recovery recognizes that participants may be in one or more of various stages of change and that different exercises may be helpful at different stages.[13]

  1. Precontemplation - At this stage, the participant may not realize that they have a problem.[13]
  2. Contemplation - The participant evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of the addiction by performing a cost/benefit analysis.[13]
  3. Determination/Preparation - The participant decides to pursue personal change, and may complete a Change Plan Worksheet.[13]
  4. Action - The participant seeks out new ways of handling their addiction behavior. This can include self-help, the support of addiction help group or professional guidance.[13]
  5. Maintenance - After a few months, the participant's behavior has been changed and now seeks to maintain their gains.[13]
  6. Graduation/Exit - Once a participant has sustained a long period of change, they may choose to move on with their lives and "graduate" from SMART Recovery.[13]

Side event: Relapse - Although not inevitable, relapses are a normal part of the change cycle and if handled well, can serve as a learning experience in overcoming an addiction.[13]


Incorporated in 1992 as the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network (ADASHN), the organization began operating under the SMART Recovery name in 1994.[14][15]

General operations are overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors,[16] which initially included Dr. Marc Kern.[citation needed] Local groups are run by volunteers known as Facilitators with the assistance of volunteer recovery professionals called Volunteer Advisors. A central office is currently maintained in Mentor, Ohio.[17]

SMART Recovery offers its services for free although a donation is requested and its publications are sold.[18]


The meetings are free for all wishing to attend, and are intended to be informational as well as supportive.[19] Over 1500 weekly group meetings led by volunteer facilitators are held worldwide.[20] In addition, the organization provides online resources and support to the volunteers and those attending the groups and one or more daily online meetings.[21]

Meetings are also held in correctional facilities in many states including: Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Family & Friends[edit]

SMART Family & Friends is an online or face-to-face support group for Concerned Significant Others (CSOs) of people struggling with addictions. The group was started in September 2010. Its purpose is to address specific issues encountered when a family member or friend tries to reach out and help a loved one [22] and it draws from the work of Robert Meyers' CRAFT Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training program which differs significantly from Al-Anon in that it is a behavioral program which advocates that the CSO can have a positive impact on the substance abuser. Further, the CRAFT program has been demonstrated in Meyers' research to be more effective than the Vernon Johnson type intervention or Al-Anon, with less negative side-effects and better outcomes, whether or not the substance abuser enters treatment.[23][24]


SMART is recognized by the American Academy of Family Physicians,[25] as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)[26] and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).[27] NIDA and NIAAA are agencies of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Religiosity and Participation in Self-Help Groups". The Walsh Group. 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  2. ^ Horvath, AT (2000). "Smart Recovery: Addiction Recovery Support from a Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective". Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. 18 (3): 181–191. doi:10.1023/A:1007831005098.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  3. ^ Steinberger, H. (2004). SMART Recovery Handbook. Mentor Ohio: Alcohol & Drug Abuse Self-Help Network,Inc. pp. Section 1/Page5. ISBN 0-615-13135-2. 
  4. ^ Miller, W.R.; et al. (1995). "Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual: A Clinical Research Guide for Therapists Treating Individuals With Alcohol Abuse and Dependence.". Project MATCH Monograph Series. National Institute of Health. 
  5. ^ Hester & Miller (2002). Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives. University of Michigan: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0-205-36064-5. 
  6. ^ Shaw, BR; et al. (2005). Addiction & Recovery for Dummies. Wiley Publishing. pp. 176–177. ISBN 0-7645-7625-9. 
  7. ^ Brooks, A.J.; Penn, P. E. (2003). "Comparing treatments for dual diagnosis: Twelve-Step and Self Management and Recovery Training". American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 29 (2): 359–383. doi:10.1081/ADA-120020519. PMID 12765211. 
  8. ^ Hardin, Rosemary (2013). SMART Recovery Handbook. Mentor Ohio: Alcohol & Drug Abuse Self-Help Network,Inc. pp. Chapter 1: Welcome to SMART, Section: How is SMART different from other recovery programs?. ISBN 978-0615852676. 
  9. ^ Miller, W. R.; Kurtz, E. (1994). "Models of alcoholism used in treatment: Contrasting A.A. and other perspectives with which it is often confused". Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 55 (2): 159–166. PMID 8189736. 
  10. ^ Volpicelli, Joseph; Maia Szalavitz (2000). Recovery Options: The Complete Guide. Wiley Publishing. pp. 149–151. ISBN 0-471-34575-X. 
  11. ^ "SMART Alternative Self-Help Groups Tackle Substance Abuse". Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  12. ^ Steinberger, H. (2004). SMART Recovery Handbook. Mentor Ohio: Alcohol & Drug Abuse Self-Help Network,Inc. pp. Section 1/Page4. ISBN 0-615-13135-2. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Steinberger, H. (2004). SMART Recovery Handbook. Mentor Ohio: Alcohol & Drug Abuse Self-Help Network,Inc. pp. Section 2/Page8. ISBN 0-615-13135-2. 
  14. ^ Lemanski, Michael J. (2000). "Addiction Alternatives for Recovery". The Humanist. University of Michigan Health System. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  15. ^ Humphreys, Keith (2003). Circles of Recovery: Self-help Organizations for Addictions. Cambridge University Press. pp. 82–86. ISBN 0-521-79277-0. 
  16. ^ "Board of Directors 2007" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Hovarth, A. Thomas (2004). SMART Recovery Handbook. Mentor Ohio: Alcohol & Drug Abuse Self-Help Network,Inc. pp. Section 1/Page5. ISBN 0-615-13135-2. 
  19. ^ Shaw, BR; et al. (2005). Addiction & Recovery for Dummies. Wiley Publishing. pp. 176–177. ISBN 0-7645-7625-9. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Online Meeting Schedule". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  22. ^ For Family & Friends SMART Recovery website. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  23. ^ Smith, J.E. & Meyers, R.J. (2004)Motivating Substance Abusers to Enter Treatment: Working with Family Members; Guilford Press
  24. ^ Meyers, RJ & Wolfe, B. (2004) Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternative to Nagging, Pleading and Threatening by Meyers, Hazelden Press
  25. ^ "Substance Abuse--How To Recognize It". American Family Physician. 67 (7). 2003-04-01. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  26. ^ "Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide". National Institute on Drug Abuse. Archived from the original on 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  27. ^ "Alcohol and Drug Information". US Dept of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown JM. (1998) Self-Regulation and the Addictive Behaviors. in Treating Addictive Behaviors, 2nd ed. Miller WR & Heather N. eds. Plenum Press, NY. ISBN 0-306-45852-7
  • Ellis A. & Velten E. (1992) Rational Steps To Quitting Alcohol: When AA Doesn't Work For You. Barricade Books, NY. ISBN 0-942637-53-4
  • Gerstein J. (1998) Rational Recovery, SMART Recovery and non-twelve step recovery programs. In Principles Of Addiction Medicine, 2nd ed. American Society of Addiction Medicine, Chevy Chase ISBN 1-880425-08-4
  • Mattson ME. (1998) Finding the Right Approach. in Miller WR & Heather N. Treating Addictive Behaviors. 2nd ed. Plenum Press, NY. ISBN 0-306-45852-7
  • Myers PL. (2002) Beware of the Man of One Book: Processing Ideology in Addictions Education. J of Teaching in the Addictions. pp 1:69-90
  • Vuchinich RE & Tucker JA. (1998) Choice, Behavioral Economics, and Addictive Behavior Patterns. in Treating Addictive Behaviors ISBN 0-306-45852-7
  • Whittinghill D., et al. The benefits of a self-efficacy approach to substance abuse counseling in the era of managed care. J Addictions & Offender Counseling. 2000; 20:64-74
  • Brooks, A. J., & Penn, P. E. (2003). "Comparing treatments for dual diagnosis: Twelve-step and Self-Management and Recovery Training". American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 29 (2): 359–383. doi:10.1081/ADA-120020519. PMID 12765211. 

External links[edit]