In the SMART Recovery program we use concepts from many sources, especially cognitive behavior therapy and scientific research on effective treatment.
SMART Recovery focuses on abstinence as a goal because abstinence has worked out so well for most people with serious problems from addictions. However, we also support people who want to reduce harm but are unwilling to commit to abstinence.
We believe that people are well-advised to take responsibility for their own recovery. We do not view addicted people as powerless in the face of their addiction. We see our role as helping people learn to help themselves.
SMART Recovery supports what works for the individual. One size does not fit all. We believe that each participant will benefit from figuring out a program of recovery based on what works for him/her.
SMART Recovery offers an extensive toolkit that people can draw from. We have manuals and books about the SMART Recovery program, CBT and related topics. Reading them can accelerate recovery and help participants get more out of meetings.
SMART Recovery questions whether people benefit from stereotyping themselves with vaguely-defined labels such as “alcoholic” or “addict.” The critical issue is to recognize that the addictive behavior causes so much harm that it makes sense to stop.
Lapses (short) and relapses (longer) often happen to people in recovery. We view lapses and relapses as regrettable but not catastrophic. If someone has a lapse or relapse, we hope he/she will come to a meeting, identify the trigger, talk about it, learn from it, and start right back where he/she left off.
SMART Recovery recommends homework between meetings. Coming to meetings is very useful, but working on recovery during the rest of the week is more important.
SMART Recovery and AA are not in opposition. Both have abstinence as a goal but have different philosophies, treatment methods, and knowledge bases. Some SMART Recovery participants go to AA meetings as well.
SMART Recovery holds out the hope that, with time and effort, people can recover from their addictive behaviors. Many will become securely abstinent and may choose to stop attending meetings. Others will continue to attend and will give back by helping others, facilitating meetings, or starting new meetings.