What is SMART Recovery?
SMART Recovery is a nonprofit, science-based programme that helps people recover from addictive behaviours. SMART Recovery started in the USA in 1994. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training and emphasises "self" - your role in your own recovery.
Whether your addictive behaviours involves Substances - Alcohol, Smoking, or Drugs – Or Behaviours - Gambling, Sex, Eating, Shopping or Self-Harm - SMART can help. We understand the work ahead of you. No matter what your Addictive Behaviour, you're not alone.
How SMART Works
SMART Recovery runs an international network of mutual support meetings and supplies materials to help people in their recovery journeys.
1. We help you look at your behaviours so you can decide what problems need your attention. We also help you stay motivated if you make the decision to change.
2. If you feel you need to engage with an addiction treatment service or work with a therapist to support your recovery, we encourage you to do that. You could use SMART Recovery alongside this support and for some people SMART alone may be sufficient.
3. We encourage you to attend SMART meetings. Interacting with others in recovery will help you understand you're not alone as you struggle with the challenges of recovery. At the same time, you're helping others. Many of us who have walked the path of recovery have found great strength in the heartfelt words of others overcoming similar issues. If you choose to pursue recovery without attending meetings, we're still here to help.
SMART Recovery uses techniques from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), amongst others. Our organisation helps you apply these techniques to your recovery, as guided by our 4-PointProgramme®.
We focus on the here and now - and on what you want for your future - rather than the past.
We discourage the use of labels such as "addicts," "alcoholics," "druggies," "over-eaters," etc. because we believe they can be self-defeating and fuel Addictive Behaviour. Instead, we focus on behaviours and how to change them.
Addictive behaviours can arise from both substance use (psychoactive substances including alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, food, illicit drugs, and prescribed medications) and activities (gambling, sex, eating, shopping, relationships, exercise, etc.). Most of us experience an Addictive Behaviour to some degree in our lives. Many people have more than one, either at the same time or they overcome one only to find themselves dealing with another one later.
It's important to remember as you begin your journey that there is not a single "right" way to recovery. We all do it a little bit differently.
The 4-Point Programme
The 4-Point Programme is the heart of SMART. Each point provides you with tools, techniques, and strategies that can help you on your journey. Many of these tools and techniques are skills you can use after you have fully recovered to help you deal with future problems and achieve more satisfaction and balance in your life.
These points are not steps. For some people, they are sequential, for others they are not. For example, some people come to SMART when they are coping with urges, having built their motivation on their own.
The Four Points Are:
1 - Building and Maintaining Motivation
2 - Coping with Urges
3 - Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviours
4 - Living a Balanced Life
How Can We Help?
We aren't a membership-based organisation so there's nothing to join. We do no charge for the support we provide to people in recovery and you are invited to drop by and see whether SMART is for you.
SMART Recovery Meetings
Our meetings are designed to deal with the pressing needs of participants. Most of our meetings are 'peer led', by facilitators who have personal experience of Addictive Behaviour. These volunteer facilitators generously share their experience, knowledge, and compassion, and are the backbone of the SMART community.
You will find the latest listings for our face-to-face meetings around the UK at our website www.smartlifesefton.co.uk or www.smartrecovery.org.uk Information on meetings worldwide can be found at the US website, www.smartrecovery.org.
There are many reasons why people attend SMART Recovery online meetings instead of or as well as face-to-face meetings, such as living a long way from face to face meetings, preferring the anonymity or have difficulties leaving their homes. Online Meetings Link
The meetings use our voice chat system, which means you can talk and listen to other people in the meeting using microphone / headsets. This system can also use 'text' and some people listen to the meeting and take part by typing.
We have an online discussion forum, text chat and — if you wish — social networking to keep in touch with your SMART Recovery community. Click the community menu on the website and register on the site to take part. If you 'friend' people on the site, they can see your status updates — it works a little like Facebook but more private. Register with UKSR
We provide a one hour introduction to SMART Recovery course that is available to anyone who registers with the online community site. We also have more intensive training for people who want to learn more and perhaps become a Facilitator. Go Training
After registering and logging into the online Community you will have access to a library of over 70 tools and articles about SMART Recovery.
What To Expect In A SMART Recovery Meeting
SMART Recovery meetings provide you with mutual support from others, just like you, who understand the difficulties you may be facing. When trapped in an Addictive Behaviour, it is possible to become isolated and you may be thinking that no one else understands what you are going through. At a SMART Recovery meeting, you will find people who will understand and have experience and success in dealing with these difficulties.
Our meetings follow a standard structure and they usually last for 90 minutes. New participants are welcome to just observe if they are not yet comfortable discussing their own issues or contributing to the meeting.
Some groups may have a half-hour pre-meeting time to introduce the programme to newcomers, answer questions, etc. This time can also be used by members to get to know each other which can help less vocal members to become more comfortable with talking in the meeting discussion.
Welcome and Opening Statement
The Opening Statement is usually read by the group facilitator or another group member. It explains what SMART Recovery is. The facilitator can also explain how the meeting runs and the meeting rules to new people coming to their first meeting.
One-by-one, the members of the group talk about what has happened with their recovery since the last meeting or over the last week. Their check in could be on what success they have had or challenges they have faced or might be facing. Check-In should be short with any big problems or complicated issues being put on the meeting agenda for the meeting discussion.
Newcomers are told in the Opening Statement that they are free to just listen and can just say, "I'll pass" when it comes to their turn to check-in.
The group Facilitator asks the group for things they might want to talk about or look at, and they can be put on the agenda along with any issues that came up at the Check-In. The group then decides on, clarifies and agrees on a Meeting Agenda.
The Facilitator will introduce each topic agreed upon during Agenda Setting. Often this will be an opportunity for a participant to explore an issue and others in the group to help them, using SMART Tools, find a way forwards. At other times, we might have a discussion on a particular topic.
Participants are discouraged from long 'war stories' or going over the bad things that have happened in the past. The focus is on the here and now and making better choices for the future.
The group facilitator explains why donations are asked for (to cover room hire and material costs), and the piggybank called Toby is in the room ready to be fed.
Each person has the opportunity for a final comment, perhaps about what they liked or found helpful about the meeting; or what they plan to do in the next week to help them with their recovery.
Some meetings will have time afterwards for informal social time and this can be an important step in building the participants networks of support.
Meeting Ground Rules
These are the 'Ground Rules' of the SMART Recovery meeting.
• Take responsibility for your own decisions and behaviour and allow others to be responsible for theirs.
• Respect confidentiality.
• Avoid side conversations and stay focused on the group.
• Do not label others or use offensive language or behaviour.
• Keep the focus on how to abstain.
• Use the SMART Recovery program.
• Seek professional help on issues not appropriate for the meeting.
Some meetings may have additional rules, such as not attending under the influence or after a given time.
Pick and Mix Your Recovery Journey
While SMART Recovery can help you as a stand-alone programme, it also can work alongside professional treatment or therapy. If you're already in addictions treatment or working with a counsellor, psychologist, or psychiatrist - SMART can help you practice the changes in behaviour you seek and build up a support network that can help you long after you move on from professional support. You are welcome at SMART Recovery, whether you are in treatment or not. You are welcome to use our meetings and attend other groups, such as AA or NA. Do what feels right for you and don't let others dictate what helps your recovery.
SMART Recovery groups are very structured and many people find that they also want some more informal 'peer support' or a wider recovery network. This is great and we are increasingly seeing SMART Meetings sit both within and alongside these recovery communities, such as Recovery Cafes and service user groups. The key thing here is choice.
We suggest that people seeking help with an Addictive Behaviour try out several alternatives and give each a go to find what works best for them - What we do know is that a lot of people find SMART Recovery helpful and come back for more.