Why SMART Recovery Is an Increasingly Important Alternative to AA
Above is a great link to a piece about Smart Recovery and why it is an important alternative to AA. Smart is much more modern that AA and offers real practical help for those who wish to stop drinking. It is not faith-based or religious and helps people make rational decisions about their addictive behaviour. Many alcoholics and addicts simply swap one addiction for another, but Smart is about building a well-balanced lifestyle.
I had not heard of Smart when I stopped drinking and went to AA, which was not entirely appropriate for me, and I really hope that more people start to write about the positive experiences they have with Smart and other techniques that I have mentioned here. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/options-alternatives-aa-12-step-alcohol-addiction-recovery/
People often need to try a few alternatives to find a support method that inspires them to stop, and not just stay part of the same group, sharing the same things, year after year. I find people who take responsibility for their own recovery, and try many ways to improve their experience of life seem to do a lot better than those who just site in 12 step meetings.
Substance.com has some good articles about the recovery world, and does not suffer from the stupid arguing that takes place on the fix , which has had much of its comment sections, taken over by “trolls” with extreme views, who chase each other around the web arguing, and not helping people recover.
Here is a section from todays piece by Helen Redmond
There are over 1,000 SMART groups worldwide, and in any given month, between 20,000 and 30,000 people attend meetings. These figures are climbing, although they’re still dwarfed by AA.
SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training; we’ll call it SR) is a self-empowering addiction recovery support group offering practical tools, techniques and strategies. Founded in 1996, the non-profit organization doesn’t base its work on any spiritual component, or on the idea that addiction is a lifelong, incurable disease. Tom Horvath, PhD, one of the founders, says, “For many of our participants, addiction is not a disease. They want an alternative approach to both the disease concept and the 12 Steps.”
So what is addiction? According to SR literature:
“Addictive behavior is overinvolvement with substance use, e.g., alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, food, etc., or activities, e.g., gambling, sexual behavior, spending, etc. We assume there are degrees of addictive behavior and that all individuals to some degree experience it. For some individuals the negative consequences of addictive behavior become so great that change becomes highly desirable.”
SR encourages members to think about the benefits and the costs of their drug use and fill out a “decisional balance,” stating: 1. Benefits for me of continuing and 2. Benefits for me of stopping.
That the program accepts that there are benefits to using drugs is significant; although many recovery support groups do not acknowledge it, drugs of course have numerous powerful and pleasurable paybacks.
I observed one SR group in San Diego where members discussed the benefits they got from drinking. The facilitator wrote them on a whiteboard:
* less shy at bars and parties
* relaxation after a horrible day at work
* tune out the kids
* my partner is more interesting [That got a huge laugh.]
* helps me sleep
* sex is better
* helps me forget my problems
It felt liberating to discuss the pleasurable and rewarding aspects of alcohol, and it gave participants permission to be honest. Recognizing the positive facets of drug use could help a person to learn how to manage painful emotions, awkward situations and unfulfilling relationships without drugs. Denying these benefits could block people from understanding why they continue to use.
The group also eagerly recorded the benefits of stopping drinking:
* save money
* I won’t need a liver transplant
* no divorce
* no DUIs
* no blackouts
* I won’t get fired
Looking at the list, Leia* remarked: “It helps me remember why I quit drinking—and helps when I have a craving to knock back two bottles of chardonnay.”
The decisional balance maps out in a visual way the role that addictive behaviors play, builds motivation for change and points out potential relapse triggers. Coping with urges is one of the points in SMART Recovery’s 4-Point Program:
1. Building and Maintaining Motivation
2. Coping with Urges
3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors
4. Living a Balanced Life
Teaching people how to manage urges and cravings is valuable, because both are inevitable when trying to quit addictive substances or activities and can lead to relapse.
In several SR groups that I attended across the country, members discussed lots of practical ways to resist urges to use—and unlike in AA, “crosstalk” is encouraged.