First Segment - SMART Recovery HANDBOOK
What is SMART?
SMART Recovery started in 1994. SMART, an acronym for Self-Management and Recovery Training, emphasizes “self” - your role in your own recovery. We’re a nonprofit, science-based programme that helps people recover from addictive behaviours.
Whether your addictive behaviour involves substances - alcohol, smoking or drugs - or behaviours - gambling, sex, eating, shopping or self-harm - SMART can help. We understand the work ahead of you. No matter what your addictive behaviour, you’re not alone.
- So I want to stop here and ask Mick a quick question as I know you have attended another 12 step fellowship in the past for another addiction and I was wondering what your experience was like working two separate 12 step programmes at the same time and does the idea of one programme covering all addictions interest you?
How SMART works
SMART Recovery runs an international network of mutual support meetings and supplies materials to help people in their recovery journeys.
- We help you look at your behaviours so you can decide what problems need your attention. We also help you stay motivated if you make the decision to change.
- If you feel you need to engage with an addiction treatment service or work with a therapist to support your recovery, we encourage you to do that. You should use SMART Recovery alongside this support and for some people SMART alone may be sufficient.
- We encourage you to attend SMART meetings. Interacting with others in recovery will help you understand you’re not alone as you struggle with the challenges of recovery. At the same time, you’re helping others. Many of us who have walked the path of recovery have found great strength in the heartfelt words of others overcoming similar issues. If you choose to pursue recovery without attending meetings, we’re still here to help.
- Referring back to point 1 here, what has helped you stay motivated during your recovery so far? Has that motivation changed over time?
SMART Recovery uses techniques from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), amongst others. Our organisation helps you apply these techniques to your recovery, as guided by our 4-Point ProgrammeⓇ.
You can stay in SMART as long as you wish. You aren't making a lifetime commitment to the programme. Many find that participating in SMART after they recover helps them avoid relapses. Some volunteer to facilitate SMART meetings or lend their talents and skills in other ways. Others simply continue to attend meetings to share their experiences with people new to SMART, like you.
- This reminds me a lot of the slogan “A Day At A Time”. What is the meaning and benefit of the slogan “A Day At A Time” to you?
We focus on the present - and what you want for your future - rather than the past. We discourage the use of labels such as "addicts," "alcoholics," "druggies," "over-eaters," etc. because we believe they can be self-defeating and fuel addictive behaviour. Instead, we focus on behaviours and how to change them.
Addictive behaviours can arise from both substance use (psychoactive substances including alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, food, illicit drugs, and prescribed medications) and activities (gambling, sex, eating, shopping, relationships, exercise, etc.). Most of us experience an addictive behaviour to some degree in our lives. Many people have more than one, either at the same time or they overcome one only to find themselves dealing with another one later.
It's important to remember as you begin your journey that there is not a single "right" way to recovery. We all do it a little bit differently.
- Do you think people should save time and see it your way? Do you find contrarian worldviews threatening to you or your fellowship? Even if your group or another group gets it wrong, are you inclined to trust self-correction to take hold organically or do you think you have to intervene?
The 4-Point Programme
The 4-Point Programme is the heart of SMART. Each point provides you with tools, techniques, and strategies that can help you on your journey. Many of these tools and techniques are skills you can use after you have fully recovered to help you deal with future problems and achieve more satisfaction and balance in your life.
These points are not steps. For some people they are sequential, for others they are not. For example, some people come to SMART when they are coping with urges, having built their motivation on their own.
The four points are:
- Building and Maintaining Motivation
- Coping with Urges
- Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviours
- Living a Balanced Life
- Are you as devoted to your personal time as you are to your recovery? Are you good at having fun?
Pick and mix your recovery journey
While SMART can help you as a stand-alone programme, it also can work alongside professional treatment or therapy. If you're already in addictions treatment or working with a counsellor, psychologist, or psychiatrist - SMART can help you practice the changes in behaviour you seek and build up a support network that can help you long after you move on from professional support.
You are welcome at SMART Recovery, whether you are in treatment or not. You are welcome to use our meetings and also attend other groups, such as AA or NA. Do what feels right for you and don't let others dictate what helps your recovery.
SMART Recovery groups are very structured and many people find that they also want some more informal 'peer support' or a wider recovery network. This is great and we are increasingly seeing SMART Meetings sit both within and alongside these recovery communities, such as Recovery Cafes and service user groups.
The key thing here is choice. We suggest that people seeking help with an addictive behaviour try out several alternatives and give each a go to find what works best for them. What we do know is that a lot of people find SMART Recovery helpful and come back for more.
- Are you open-minded and willing to try other recovery programmes to see what else is out there that you may not have experienced yet? Do you believe this is an important part of remaining teachable?
Second Segment - Quote of The Week
Lessons from Geese by Angeles Arrien, 1991 based on the work of Milton Olson
This autumn, when you see geese heading South for the winter and flying along in a "V" formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates' uplift' for the bird immediately following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are travelling on the thrust of each other. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed in the same way that we are.
When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs with people or with geese flying South. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. Finally, and this is important, when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend a helping hand and for protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies. Only then do they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their group.
If we had the sense of a goose, we would stand by each other like that.
Third Segment - Topic of The Week
- Who are the key people in your recovery network?
Do you balance friendship in and out of the fellowship?
Are you the type of member who reaches out the hand of friendship as an act of Love that asks for nothing in return?
Bonus Question - How important is fellowship to you and your recovery?