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SMART Recovery


What Is SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery is a substance abuse recovery program that stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. The principles behind the program are empowering an individual to take charge of his or her recovery and live a life free from substance abuse. Individuals struggling with substance abuse addiction in Massachusetts may turn to SMART Recovery as an alternative to the traditional 12-step program. SMART Recovery differs from the 12-step program because it focuses on self-management and empowerment. While a person in a 12-step program admits powerlessness over addiction, SMART Recovery focuses on revealing to a person he or she has the power to beat addiction.

SMART Recovery is used to treat a number of addictions, including drug, alcohol, gambling and/or sexual addiction.

The Four Points of SMART Recovery

The principles behind SMART Recovery programs in Massachusetts are four points. These include:

Building and maintaining motivation

Not all people who participate in a substance abuse recovery program are there of their own will or desire. Also, as time goes on, staying sober becomes more and more difficult. The first principle deals with helping a person “stay the course” of sobriety.

Coping with urges

Urges to return to substance abuse are strong in those struggling with addiction as their bodies are mentally and physically addicted to a particular substance. SMART Recovery aims to teach a person behaviors that can help him or her cope with urges to return to substance abuse.

Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors

Addictive thinking changes a person to where he or she is often solely focused on using a particular drug. The third principle of SMART Recovery helps a person learn to live a life where thoughts aren’t focused on obtaining and using drugs again.

Living a balanced life

Being in recovery allows a person to start the process of reclaiming his or her life. From returning to the working world to strengthening family relationships, there are many aspects a person can strengthen in recovery to live a more balanced life.

Approach to SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery incorporates several different scientific principles and approaches to addiction treatment. Examples of techniques used in SMART Recovery include cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy. Each of these approaches is a part of the “SMART Toolbox,” which are techniques a person in recovery can use to feel better.

The program involves attending weekly meetings that incorporate educational elements as well as support and discussions. Because the program is scientifically based, it can change as knowledge evolves. Currently, the program recognizes there are six main stages a person will progress through on the journey to becoming a sober individual.

  • Pre-contemplation: A person may or may not acknowledge he or she has a problem with substance abuse.
  • Contemplation: A person is considering quitting substance abuse and starts to weight the pros and cons toward a sober lifestyle.
  • Determination/preparation: A person decides he or she is ready to make personal changes in life. During this time, the person will complete a “Change Plan Worksheet” from the SMART Recovery program.
  • Action: Action involves taking daily steps toward sobriety, such as attending a support group or seeking counseling.
  • Maintenance: Once a person chooses sobriety, he or she will face many challenges. The maintenance phase helps a person continue through his or her sobriety.
  • Graduation/Exit: The SMART Recovery program is not one that a person has to participate in for a lifetime. If a person has achieved sustained recovery, he or she may graduate from the program.

Who Will Benefit From SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery benefits those who may be having difficulty finding motivation to achieve sobriety. Certain individuals may respond more strongly to the SMART Recovery program because of its empowering message. If you or a loved one could potentially benefit from this form of therapy, do not hesitate to speak to an addiction specialist today. Your new life is waiting.