SMART Recovery Empowers You To Create a Good Life
If there’s one thing many recovering alcoholics or addicts will tell you is that when they first began recovery, it helped them to have some sort of support system. It could have been a supportive spouse, support group, 12 Step group, counselor, doctor, rehab, friends, and so on, but the reality is that the support was helpful.
Not everyone struggling with addiction or alcoholism will be able to go off to an inpatient rehab. That’s alright. There are other routes to recovery from addiction and it’s up to each person to find out what works for him or her.
One recovery path that some people choose to get on is a support group called SMART Recovery. (Self-Management and Recovery Training) This group is much smaller than the well-known 12 Step groups Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, with less than 1,000 meetings across the nation currently.
Still, it is a viable option for those who don’t resonate with AA or NA, or those that have an issue with the Higher Power concept found in those meetings. In fact, some will attend SMART Recovery meetings and combine the 12 Steps from the other groups, finding the combination helpful.
A 4-Point Program
SMART Recovery uses a 4-Point Program training that helps those who are struggling with addiction minimize or overcome their addictive tendencies. Whether they’re addicted to alcohol, drugs, food, porn, sex, gambling, shopping, etc., this self-management recovery group aims to educate and empower them to lead a life free from addiction.
Quality of life
The purpose of SMART Recovery is to help improve one’s quality of life by learning how to defeat faulty or irrational thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The tools used for recovery from such are based on evidence-based addiction treatment. There’s a big emphasis on self-empowerment, directing members to take full responsibility for their attitudes and behaviors.
SMART Recovery educates members on self-reliance and self-empowerment. They challenge users to stop pointing fingers and blaming others for the situation they find themselves in. They teach that if you want a good life, you’ve got to do the necessary work to create it.
They teach using specific techniques and offer tools for members to begin changing. The meetings offer members to freely share their feelings, challenges, and encouragement.
SMART Recovery’s 4 Key Points
SMART uses 4-Points to teach freedom from addiction. They include:
Point 1: Building and Maintaining Motivation
Point 2: Coping with Urges
Point 3: Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
Point 4: Living a Balanced Life
Differences from AA and NA
There are various differences between AA and NA and SMART Recovery. First, SMART does not label a person an addict or alcoholic. They do not encourage people to look at themselves or define themselves by such labels.
They also do not believe the common belief in AA and NA, that “once an addict, always an addict.” The concept of being powerless over a habit is not endorsed. Rather than think they have to fight urges and cravings the rest of their lives, they are taught by trained volunteers to examine underlying beliefs and thoughts that may be the root issues. They don’t feel that a person should have to spend the rest of his or her life having to attend meetings. They feel one should go as long as the meetings are helping them.
SMART Recovery is not based on the belief that there is a Higher Power such as God. They let members believe whatever it is that works for them. They also inform members of the various recovery options available to them.
SMART Recovery 4 Points
Let’s look more closely at each of SMART’s 4 Point Training philosophy:
- Building and maintaining motivation
When you want to get free from alcohol or drugs, having proper motivation can certainly help. If you don’t know the reasons why you want to remain on the sobriety path, it can be more challenging to resist the temptation to drink or drug. SMART Recovery encourages members to make a list of why they want to remain free from alcohol or drugs. By writing down the pros and cons of using such substances, it can help them set boundaries and be clear about what they really want.
- Coping with urges
When you stop drinking or drugging, you’ll most likely have to contend with the urge to use every now and then. For some people, this urge can be quite often. How do you cope with such urges? SMART Recovery teaches you to identify what kinds of things trigger such cravings. Then, when you’re aware of those triggers, you can use distraction techniques to overcome them or you can learn to identify irrational thoughts associated with urges.
For example, someone may have the thought, “I’m nobody unless I’m drinking.” That’s an irrational thought that can be replaced with, “I am a good person with goals and dreams in life.” Or you can replace that thought with whatever thought you wish. The point is to reframe thoughts from negative or irrational to positive or rational. This will take some practice, but it’s quite possible to re-train the brain to become more positive over time, reducing triggers based on old, faulty thoughts.
- Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
This is the point where you really get down and dirty with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Thoughts influence feelings, and feelings influence behaviors, so if you can become an observer of your thoughts, and examine them like a detective, you’ll be more apt to see just what ones are not serving you well. You’ll be able to identify what you’re thinking and feeling better and give yourself permission to feel those negative thoughts momentarily. Then, work through them rather than try to numb them by alcohol or drugs. This takes time and practice but is quite possible.
- Living a balanced life
Balance is a major key to experiencing peace and joy in life. When you decide to live life sober and free from addictive tendencies, your life goes through some changes. Recovery is a learned experience and learning how to stay in balance is important to sustain recovery. In SMART Recovery, you’ll begin to think about what’s important to you in your life and create goals and strategies for moving toward a life that you love.
No More Excuses
If you are like most people, you want to be successful in every area of your life. You don’t want to settle for a life of boredom, unhappiness, failures, or addiction. Deep inside of us, we all long for purpose and success, but so often we get caught up in the busyness of work, chores, appointments, addictive tendencies, etc. We settle for status quo or an average job, mediocre relationship, and so-so emotions.
But you no longer have to live that way. You can live not only a successful life but a happy and adventurous life! As SMART Recovery asserts, one of the keys is to take 100 percent responsibility for it. That means no more excuses as to why you can’t do this or do that.
This means that you stop talking about how you had a dysfunctional family that put you down and now you have low self-esteem and can’t accomplish your goals. Or how the new man at work got the promotion that you wanted, so you’ve given up trying. Or that your life is just perfect as it is because that sounds like you’ve settled in some areas.
Are you completely satisfied in your relationship, finances, social skills, career, spiritual, and physical life? Chances are that you have room to grow and the time to begin is now.
Take full responsibility
Jim Rohn is America’s foremost business philosopher and he says, “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.”
The past is that past. Let bygones be bygones. Let your pain motivate you toward success, let your fears propel you to take a leap of courage, and leave your critics standing in the dust. Stop blaming your parents, your friends, coworkers, and spouse for your lack. You can be as successful as you want to be.
Recovery takes time and change can be difficult, but change is necessary for growth. If you don’t like where you are, then you must do things differently. There are so many resources available to help you to achieve whatever your goals may be – even stop drinking or drugging. There are books, audios, teachers, classes, Life Coaches, therapists, 12 Step groups, support groups, counselors, rehabs, and a variety of other resources you can utilize to grow and become successful.
The Twelve Step recovery groups define “insanity” as “doing the same things over and over and expecting different results”. If you are not getting the results that you want, then you have got to do something different.
Take a life inventory
Sit down and evaluate where you are in your life. Gauge where you are emotionally, physically, spiritually, career-wise, and relationally. Write down some goals as to where you would like to be and then create an action plan for achieving those goals. Print your goals out and post them in a spot around your home or office that you can see daily. It is a great idea to recite those goals out loud several times a day. Keep them in your focus and continually be taking steps toward achieving them.
If you haven’t checked out a SMART Recovery meeting yet, see if there’s one in your area and go. If you don’t want to go alone, grab a friend or family member and go. You may love it!
Let’s close with a quote by best-selling author, Richard Bach, and release you to dream big beginning today:
“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.”