What are Your Options for Recovery
It perhaps goes without saying that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the best known recovery program. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) might be a close second. In fact, when the media portrays a recovery program, it’s a safe bet that it will have “anonymous” in its name and that 12 steps will be involved.
But AA and NA are not the only options for people in recovery from a substance use disorder. One alternative is SMART Recovery, a program that may have particular appeal for those who aren’t completely comfortable with the religious and spiritual underpinnings of more famous programs.
Get Smart About SMART
SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. It is a science-based secular program that advocates for complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol for those in recovery. The nonprofit organization offers support groups across the country for anyone working to maintain their sobriety.
Rational emotive behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are at the heart of the SMART Recovery program. SMART focuses on individual choices and self-reliance and so differs from Alcoholics Anonymous and other programs that encourage finding a sponsor to help you stay sober.
Four Points Instead of 12 Steps
Participants in SMART Recovery programs learn its 4-Point program and related skills, tools, and techniques that can help a person create a balanced life that supports long-term recovery. The 4 Points can be tackled in any order that suits a given individual.
Point One – Building & Maintaining Motivation to Abstain
It may seem obvious that a willingness to stay sober is central to a recovery effort. But sometimes we aren’t completely clear about our priorities. SMART Recovery encourages a listing of priorities and a careful comparison of the costs and benefits of staying sober rather than using drugs or alcohol. This listing and comparison provides a rationale for sobriety that a person can recall when faced with temptation.
Point Two – Coping with Urges
Knowing and understanding individual triggers that lead to cravings is extremely important. The SMART Recovery program provides a set of techniques and tools that can be employed to overcome cravings. Methods include but are not limited to distraction techniques and gaining a firm understanding of the irrational beliefs that drive seemingly insurmountable urges.
Point Three – Managing Thoughts, Feelings, & Behaviors
A thorough examination of how and why feelings, thoughts, and behaviors lead to substance use is a key component of the program. Self-acceptance and intentional management of challenging emotions are necessary tools that can help prevent relapses.
Point Four – Living a Balanced Life
Getting and staying sober means making drastic changes to your lifestyle. In order to achieve a better balance going forward, participants in the SMART Recovery program are encouraged to create a complete inventory of the things that are important to them. The program offers guidance on setting realistic goals and planning for a future that is free from substance use.
Beyond the 4-Points – Additional Principles of SMART Recovery
The program is built around the concepts of self-reliance, self-empowerment, self-directed change, and personal accountability.
- Legal medications designed to help a person combat addiction or deal with psychiatric problems are permitted.
- Negative self-talk leads to negative behaviors, and so a person in recovery must learn to minimize its occurrences. Similarly, maladaptive behaviors must be recognized and overcome.
- Because the program is based on science, it evolves as new research leads to better practices.
- The program recognizes that those in recovery move through a variety of stages of change, which include:
- Precontemplation – the state before a one is considering making a change
- Contemplation – when one is considering making a change
- Preparation – the stage during which one gets ready to actually make the change
- Action – making the change itself
- Maintenance – maintaining the new normal after a change has been made
- Termination/graduation – the hypothetical stage at which the support of the program may no longer be needed
- Relapse – the stage everyone in recovery is seeking to avoid but which starts the cycle of stages over if a person returns to using drugs or alcohol
Connecting with The Aviary Recovery Center Is a Smart Move
The first step toward lasting sobriety is finding a residential treatment facility that has the expertise and compassion to help you or a loved one overcome a substance use disorder. The Aviary Recovery Center is just such a place. Our capable and caring team will personalize a recovery program around each individual’s specific needs and will ensure that everyone who completes rehabilitation has access to resources and options—like SMART Recovery—that can help protect their hard-won sobriety.