Facts About SMART Recovery

If you know me or follow my journey, you know that I am a huge advocate of SMART Recovery.  It has been very instrumental in my 19 months of recovery.  I recently completed the SMART Recovery facilitator training program and started a new meeting in my hometown.  The more that I advocate for SMART, the more I find that people don’t know anything about it or what they do know is incorrect.  I thought I would begin writing a series of posts on SMART and start off with a primer and the fast facts about SMART Recovery.

SMART stands for Self-Management And Recovery Training.

SMART Recovery is a non-profit and was founded in 1994 and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.  So, it is not as new as people tend to think.  It has been around for a while and has had a great amount of success with its 4-point program.

SMART is an abstinence-based program.  You do not have to be abstinent to attend SMART meetings but the context of the meetings and tools promote abstinence.

Though SMART does not use a 12-step approach, it does use a science-based 4-point program.  The 4-point program focuses on:

  1. Building and maintaining motivation
  2. Coping with urges
  3. Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  4. Maintain a balanced lifestyle

SMART uses a variety of tools to support its 4-point program.  The SMART tools are derived from Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Tools include: Cost/Benefit Analysis; Change Plan Worksheet; Hierarchy of Values; ABCs of Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy (for both urge-coping and emotional upsets); DISARM (Destructive Imagery and Self-talk Awareness and Refusal Method); Brainstorming; and Role-playing/Rehearsing.
(I will go into each tool in more detail in future posts.)

Tools are associated with the Stages of Change.  The Stages of Change are:

  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
  6. Termination

Tools can be used in meetings but are designed and optimized for personal use.  This is where the self-empowerment comes in.

SMART meetings are not all that different in structure from some 12-step meetings.  The major differences are the approaches discussed and the language used.  A typical SMART meeting is structured as:

  1. Welcome and opening statement
  2. Check-in
  3. Setting the agenda
  4. Group discussion
  5. Check-out
  6. Pass the hat/brochure
  7. Closing comments

The majority of the meeting is set in the group discussion stage where the facilitator and group choose 2-3 topics that come up during the check-in.

SMART has over 2,400 weekly meetings in 21 countries around the world and over 40 online meetings held each week, plus a 24/7 online chat.

SMART meetings are led by facilitators who complete a rigorous 30-hour training course or by hosts who undergo less rigorous training and lead simpler meetings.  Facilitators are trained in motivational interviewing, REBT basics, irrational beliefs, Rational Emotive Imagery (REI), and more.

SMART Recovery avoids the use of labels – addict, alcoholic, druggie, overeater, etc. – because labeling people based on their behavior isn’t conducive to recovery.

Many SMART meetings do sign meeting verification slips for proof of attendance.

You can learn more about SMART Recovery in this video:

Want to know about the tools? Check out this in-depth video presentation of the best SMART tools:


Do you have more questions about SMART Recovery? Please feel free to ask via the comments below or contact me directly via e-mail or social media. Be sure to check out the official SMART Recovery website at https://www.smartrecovery.org/ .

Love Y’all!