Smart Recovery overview

Smart Recovery overview

There are quite a few groups that help people recover from alcoholism and addiction, in existence and I will attempt to highlight them again in the near future as we are in the run up to the new year, which is the time that many will look for a solution to their substance problems. Of course AA is the most well established group, and most people can access meetings, but many find the 12 step approach is not what they require. I feel that Smart offers an alternative approach that could help many.Smart Recovery Meeting

Smart has been around for a couple of decades and is starting to grow. It still has a long way to go, and unfortunately many people do not hear about it. They have a good online presence, and will often attract those who have tried other methods and done some research, but many people who could be helped, do not find out about it. I was talking to a friend of mine who is an AA member and has been sober for 22 years last week, and he had not heard about it. You never see any leaflets or posters in doctors or hospitals in the UK, but there is always something from AA.


Smart uses a four point approach, and does not use the idea of spiritual solution at all, which is one of the things that I like about it. The Smart solution has evolved and makes use of new developments in the field.

Here are the four points.

The 4-Point Program offers specific tools and techniques for each of the program points:

Point 1: Building and Maintaining Motivation

Point 2: Coping with Urges

Point 3: Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors

Point 4: Living a Balanced Life


Smart recovery has published and excellent handbook which I will add to my books section shortly.It is also available on Kindle now. It contains many plans of action, to help you get started on the path to sobriety, and how to continue living sober after taking the initial action. They have a great online site and also do online meetings which are safe, and certainly more convenient for many, especially those with children. The website has an excellent section full of resources, which are similar to those found in the handbook.

Here are examples of the tools and techniques used by Smart recovery.

– Stages of Change

– Change Plan Worksheet

– Cost/Benefit Analysis (Decision Making Worksheet)

– ABCs of REBT for Urge Coping

– ABCs of REBT for Emotional Upsets

– DISARM (Destructive Images and Self-talk Awareness & Refusal Method)

– Hierarchy of Values

– Brainstorming

– Role-playing and Rehearsing

– USA (Unconditional Self-Acceptance)

Unfortunately I did find out about Smart recovery until I had a few years of living alcohol free and was quite secure with my sobriety. I did ask in my second AA meeting (which was a “Joys of Recovery” meeting) if there were any alternatives to AA as I was not convinced that AA was suitable for me. I certainly was not directed to anything else which is a shame, as I feel people who are attempting recovery should try a variety of methods to see which solution or combination, works for them. They may also modify their approach over time, at different stages of recovery.

Although I was not formally introduced to Smart, I was taught many of the techniques that they use during my period with a counsellor, and these were the things that really helped me solidify my recovery. CBT techniques have helped me rebuild my self-confidence and move on from the thoughts and feelings that used to hold me back in life.

I should also mention that Smart recovery meetings are always run by a trained facilitator, and I think this is a really sensible thing especially in the modern world. They can certainly help people find the resources they need and also spot problems in the group.

Here is the main website for Smart Recovery. 

Here is a link to another Smart related post about success


Commenting area

  1. I really enjoyed reading your insights about SMART Recovery. They are gaining more and more interest as time goes by. I like their website and all of the free info and free online meetings they have for people, including family and friends. Their family and friends part of the program is gaining much interest as well as there is a growing need for those dealing with loved ones with addictions.

  2. I think they will have a new book for family and friends coming out very shortly which I am sure will help quite a few people. I also like the fact that it deals with all addictions not just alcohol or drugs in the way that seperate 12 step groups do. It is easy to jump from one addiction to another but I feel the tools that Smart uses helps people avoid that. I wish I had found it earlier.

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