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What is SMART Recovery?

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. Meeting participants learn recovery methods derived from evidence-based addiction treatments. 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.

SMART Recovery is based on scientific knowledge, and is intended to evolve as scientific knowledge evolves. The program uses principles of motivational interviewing found in Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), 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.

The organization's program emphasizes four areas (called the 4-Point Program) in the process of recovery:

  • Building Motivation
  • Coping with Urges
  • Problem Solving
  • Lifestyle Balance

The "SMART Toolbox" is a collection of various MET, CBT and REBT methods (or "tools") which address the 4 Points.

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.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." 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.

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