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SMART Recovery is an abstinence-oriented, not-for-profit organization for people with addictive difficulties.  The program’s self-empowering, free mutual support meetings focus on ideas and techniques to help members change their lives from self-destructive and unhappy to constructive and satisfying.

SMART Recovery does not use labels like “addict” or “alcoholic.”  Instead, the program teaches scientifically validated methods to empower you to change and develop a more positive lifestyle.  After you have become familiar with SMART and are free of addictive behavior, the program will encourage you to become a volunteer to keep expanding the number of meetings they offer.

Addictive behaviors can serve a purpose — to cope with life’s dilemmas and emotional upsets.  However, there can be disadvantages:  while addictive behaviors may be active coping methods in the short term, they may induce harmful effects for a long time.

In SMART, the program focus on learning coping skills that work well short- and long-term. They base their ideas on what addiction science has shown to be effective.  The program has adapted these ideas into SMART’s tools for change.  Members are not much concerned with the past, except to learn from it.  Instead, they focus on present-day events and the causes of self-destructive behaviors.  Then, members concentrate on what to do about them to achieve a positive lifestyle change, especially in our lives related to harmful addictive behavior.

 SMART Recovery meetings are serious but usually fun.
SMART Recovery meetings are serious but usually fun.
Ryan Zofay forming a circle and hugging friends.

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Crucial Areas Of Awareness And Change

SMART Recovery’s Plan for Behavioral Change is Built Around a 4-Point Program:

  • Building and maintaining the motivation to change
  • Coping with urges to use
  • Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors effectively without addictive behaviors
  • Living a balanced, positive, and healthy life

How SMART Provides Help

The SMART meeting setup is straightforward and systematic.  Their facilitators are equipped to follow the SMART Recovery program and principles to assist participants in changing their behavior.  Some of them have had addictive problems, and some haven’t.  That doesn’t seem to make an exception.  Above all, SMART Recovery is a mental health and educational program focused on changing human behavior.

SMART Recovery meetings are serious but usually fun.  They don’t dredge up the history, about which we can do nothing.  Instead, they focus on what we can do about the present and the future.  The meeting discussions focus on how to apply SMART’s tools for change so that you can go on to lead a more productive and connected life.  Near the conclusion of the meeting, the “hat” is passed for donations, which are encouraged but not obligated.

SMART Recovery vs. 12-Step Programs

At SMART, members believe that each individual finds their path for change.  For some, that path may include 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).  While the SMART approach contrasts in some ways from AA and NA, it does not reject them.  Some SMART participants also prefer to attend AA or NA meetings.

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Use Of Medications To Treat Addictions And Mental Health

SMART Recovery encourages the scientifically informed use of psychological treatment and legally prescribed psychiatric and addiction medication.

Religion And Spirituality

SMART groups believe that the ability to change addictive behaviors dwells within each individual and does not depend upon adherence to any spiritual perspective.  Therefore, using religious or spiritual beliefs and practices in Recovery is a personal choice and not a part of their program.

Addiction As A Disease

Drug addiction shares many characteristics with other chronic illnesses;  including a tendency to run in families (genetics), onset and course impacted by environmental conditions and behavior, and the capacity to respond to appropriate treatment, including long-term lifestyle adjustment.

According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a chronic disease similar to other chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Human investigations of addictive behaviors have connected both environmental and genetic influences and interactions between the two.  While genetics play a significant role in determining who we are, the environment in which we are raised is just as influential. [1]

On the other hand, SMART Recovery tools can benefit you regardless of whether or not you believe addiction is a disease.

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Importance Of Joining Support Groups For A Lifelong Recovery

Isolation is an obstacle that only contributes to addictive and harmful substances.  Support groups are vital because they let participants know that they do not have to be detached from others.  They also extend a network of advice, assistance, and skill-building exercises.

Participants of support groups will not be judged for their choices or actions because the other people in the support group have pledged to non-judgment and may have similar life experiences.  New group members can look to other members who have been able to make successful transitions.  The life of others can support the future goals of others by inspiring them to cope.

Understanding people and giving support is part of the goals of joining support groups such as SMART Recovery.
Understanding people and giving support is part of the goals of joining support groups such as SMART Recovery.

The exchange of learning in support groups may also open new doors for coping approaches.  Simply understanding that someone else has been through the same process and may have insights into the many different stages and components of recovery brings a crucial and much-needed dimension to anyone’s successful rehabilitation.

Support groups are also crucial for liability.  Even someone who has achieved a rehabilitation program will always be at risk of relapse.  Therefore, having people who can keep each other on course for sobriety and abstinence is essential.

This is more meaningful when the accountability is supported by people who already know the vulnerabilities of relapse.  They understand the risks and temptations their peers face.  Still, they can also use their voices of experience to mark the importance of staying clean and do so without using humiliation or guilt towards others and themselves.

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We Level Up New Jersey Support Group Programs

Regardless of the substance at hand:  the purpose of support groups is to empower recovering addicts or alcoholics to be introspective and to take responsibility for their actions.  In doing so, individuals can learn to identify the source of their substance abuse, triggers, and ultimately, find lasting support in moving past it.

The ultimate goal of a support program is to achieve complete abstinence.  This is no small undertaking, so it’s unrealistic to expect a 100% success rate.  Like any other kind of addiction treatment, whether a rehab facility or program “works” or not comes down to whether it’s the right fit for the individual.

We Level Up New Jersey Treatment Center offers 12-Steps Program onsite. 12-Steps Program is a Support Group program like SMART Recovery.
We Level Up New Jersey Treatment Center offers 12-Steps Program onsite.

At We Level Up New Jersey, we firmly believe that the best chances of addiction recovery are when clients are given the right tools.  But that is still only half of the battle;  making those resources accessible and convenient plays a significant role in the likelihood of proper Recovery.  As such, we are pleased to offer our treatment programs (individual counseling, group therapy, and 12-step program meetings that work as a support group like SMART Recovery) at the same facility.  This means less headache and hassle for our clients, who can spend more time focusing on getting better.

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Sources:

SMART Recovery Programs – https://www.smartrecovery.org/

[1] Drug Abuse and Addiction: One of America’s Most Challenging Public Health Problems – National Institute On Drug Abuse