When most people think of recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, they think of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12-step meetings. They might think of a person introducing themselves in a room of people and starting out with, “Hi I’m Julie, and I’m an alcoholic.” However, there are many other options for recovery from addiction. And for a recovering addict, having options is important. The more that a person can have control over their own recovery, the better it’s going to go.
It’s true that some people just don’t like AA and the reliance upon a higher power to heal. They want to keep spirituality out of it. Others don’t like the idea of addiction being a lifelong illness, as it’s talked about in AA. And still others don’t like how AA does not necessarily emphasize the importance of thoughts and how changing one’s thoughts can dramatically affect one’s need for substance use.
Because of the differences of opinion with some of AA’s philosophy, alternatives to AA began to develop. One such group is SMART Recovery. Like AA, they have in person groups around the world. SMART Recovery also has online meetings as well as a forum and chat rooms so that men and women have a variety of opportunities to discuss their struggles with substances. The word SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. SMART Recovery is not a 12-step group. Instead, they focus on these four priorities:
- Building and maintaining motivation.
- Coping with urges to drink or use drugs
- Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
- Living a balanced life
The purpose of SMART Recovery is to encourage self management and the ability to change self-defeating thoughts, emotions, and actions that might be contributing to the addiction. Another goal of this treatment method is to empower a person to develop a life that is satisfying, meaningful, and rewarding. In many cases, a person turns to drugs and alcohol because they feel lonely, that life is meaningless, and/or that there is nothing they find rewarding. When a person begins to feel fulfillment from their life and they are feeling happy naturally, they tend not to have to turn to a substance in order to feel good.
SMART Recovery aims to do the following for its participants:
- -Teach self empowerment and self reliance
- -Encourage recovery in all facets of a person’s life
- -Provide education on addiction and the healing of addiction
- -Advocate the appropriate use of prescribed medications and treatment for psychological illness
- -Teach tools for making change in one’s life
- -Evolve just as the understanding of and treatment of addiction might also evolve
If you’re interested in finding more about SMART Recovery, you can go to their website. There you’ll find an array of tools to use to empower yourself and boost your recovery. However, if you’re currently struggling with an addiction, contact a mental health provider for immediate support.
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