SMART Recovery Program for Addiction

SMART Recovery Tools to Gain Independence from Alcohol

SMART Recovery Program for Addiction

When someone with an alcohol use disorder makes the decision to give up alcohol, it requires a permanent life change. After detox, the recovery process includes lifestyle changes and creating a support system. 

While the most known program is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12 Step program, this faith-based program doesn’t work for everyone. SMART Recovery is an abstinence-oriented, not-for-profit organization for individuals struggling with addiction. 

Their science-based program focuses on self-empowerment and teaches the skills required to achieve self-directed change. It is open to anyone suffering from alcohol abuse, substance abuse, drug addiction, or any other type of addiction. 

What is SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. AA, the goal of SMART Recovery is to support individuals that choose to give up and abstain from alcohol and substance use. The program is current scientific knowledge of addiction, but they commit to evolving the program as researchers learn more about addiction recovery.

The goal of SMART Recovery support groups and meetings is to teach people how to move forward after addiction. They accomplish this by encouraging self-empowerment. Some of the main topics covered in the SMART recovery include:

  • Encouraging self-responsibility, self-discipline, and self-motivation throughout the recovery process.
  • Teaching how to replace self-destruction thoughts with rational, healthy beliefs.
  • How to set achievable goals throughout recovery.
  • Learning coping skills in order to resist urges and reduce negative behavior.
  • Learning how to accept that impulses and triggers are a natural part of recovery.
  • Understanding how to deal with triggers when they occur.
  • Making SMART Recovery lessons and tools a part of everyday life situations.

Rehabilitation Services To Help You Overcome Your Alcohol Use Disorder. Alcohol Rehab Help Has Specialized Drug And Alcohol Rehab Facilities Across The U.S.

Call now (855) 772-9047

The SMART 4-Point Program

The 4-Point Program is the foundation of SMART Recovery, with the goal of helping individuals gain independence from addiction. The four points are:

Point 1: Building and Maintaining Motivation

When a person makes the decision to enter detox and recovery, they do so with a motivation for change. The goal of this point in the 4-Point program is to focus on ways to motivate oneself in order to maintain sobriety. As they point out, the primary goals of all humans include survival, the avoidance of pain, and happiness. 

Those with alcohol use disorder turn to alcohol in order to achieve these goals. SMART Recovery helps individuals understand how alcohol may be a short-term solution but, instead, impairs your long-term happiness.

Point 2: Coping with Urges

SMART Recovery understands that urges and triggers are a natural part of recovery. The goal of the program is to help people recognize urges and learn healthy coping mechanisms. This includes setting boundaries, eliminating harmful relationships, and learning how to avoid or handle potential triggers.

Point 3: Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

How you feel about addiction and yourself, as well as how you deal with emotions, play a major role in addiction and recovery.

SMART Recovery focuses on helping individuals identify negative beliefs and situations, as well as how to adjust them for a more positive outlook.

In addition, they work with members to better deal with anger, guilt, anxiety, and low self-esteem by helping to increase self-acceptance.

Point 4: Living a Balanced Life

Long-term sobriety requires life changes. While this includes alcohol abstinence, it also means following a healthy diet, participating in regular exercise, getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and working to maintain a positive attitude.

SMART Recovery offers many different recovery techniques and tools to help individuals, families, and friends through the recovery process. These tools help individuals work through the four points of the program.

SMART Recovery Meetings

SMART Recovery face-to-face meetings are open to the public and free. (A hat is passed around for donations). There are also online SMART meetings. They usually run 90 minutes and follow the following outline:

  • Welcome and Introduction (5 minutes)
  • Check-in (10-20 minutes)
  • Agenda Setting (3 minutes)
  • Working Time (40-50 minutes)
  • Pass the Hat (3 minutes)
  • Check-out and Closing (15 minutes)

Additional Tools

In addition to face-to-face and daily online meetings, some of these tools and techniques include:

  • Hierarchy of Values – This tool helps individuals determine what things are important to them. Reconnecting to what is important helps people visualize what they want their future to look and find the motivation to reach those goals.
  • Stages of Change and Change Plan Worksheets – This technique involves understanding the five stages of change and how to make the changes. The five stages include the precontemplation stage, contemplation stage, preparation stage, action stage, and maintenance stage.
  • SMART Recovery ABC’s –This exercise helps individuals analyze specific situations and how to modify negative thinking and behavioral patterns.
  • Destructive Images and Self-Talk Awareness and Refusal Method (DISARM) – This program helps individuals recognize negative self-talk and how to change that way of thinking.
  • SMART Recovery Activities Scale (SRAS) – An assessment tool designed to help individuals see how far they have come in their recovery process.
  • Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA) 

In addition, the SMART Recovery website offers a variety of different worksheets and homework assignments designed to help throughout every stage of recovery.

You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.

Call now (855) 772-9047

How is SMART Recovery Different?

Many addiction treatment programs center around a spiritual foundation, such as AA. In these programs, you learn how to turn your addiction recovery over to a higher power.

SMART Recovery is different, with a foundation self-empowerment and self-reliance. Meetings encourage participants to talk with each other, rather than to each other. They do not allow certain labels, such as “alcoholic” or “addict.

” Instead, this program focuses on recovery and how to make self-directed positive changes.

Rational Recovery is another secular addiction recovery program that focuses on abstinence through self-autonomy.

What's Next?


SMART Recovery 101: The Alternative or Supplemental Resource to 12-Step Programming

SMART Recovery Program for Addiction

SMART Recovery ( has been an asset in the addiction recovery community for many years. In recent years, it has gained popularity as a valid resource for those seeking an alternative or a supplement to the 12-step model. SMART’s model is inclusive, involving community and peer resources in the recovery process.

What Is SMART Recovery?

A sober support system is critical for long-term recovery. At Footprints we highly recommend patients seek outside community, and we understand that traditional AA, 12 steps is not a fit for everyone.

Some say the opposite of addiction is connection, and our goal is for you to develop your own sober support community as you transition to lower levels of care in treatment.

SMART is one of many supplemental programs you can use in your recovery journey.

SMART Recovery began in 1994 as an alternative to the 12 Steps and other spiritually based programs. The 12 Steps are centered on the participant’s surrender to a higher power that serves as an unwavering support throughout specific steps to recovery.

Some people don’t relate to the concept of a higher power, which can deter them from 12-step groups. SMART Recovery offers an alternative to the 12-steps. SMART doesn’t focus on a higher power, but is instead a scientific approach behavioral change.

The SMART Recovery model spread throughout the United States and the UK in the late 1990s and began growing exponentially in the early 2000s. SMART Recovery offers individuals who struggle with addiction a model that looks beyond substance abuse and instead focuses on changing addictive behaviors that cause imbalance in your life.

SMART Recovery programs are available around the world for people struggling with addiction, eating disorders, gambling addiction, sex addiction, and other compulsive behaviors. It can help with cross addictions as well. A cross addiction is when you replace one destructive behavior for another. For example, you stop using drugs or alcohol, but you begin gambling compulsively.

Today there are over 2,000 SMART Recovery meetings worldwide and this number is growing daily.

SMART Recovery offers support through local community meetings; therapeutic programs; and online meetings, chat rooms, and message boards.

Their website includes resources suggestions for a “recovery toolbox” ( and recommended books (

SMART is a four-point system:

  • Building and maintaining motivation
  • Coping with urges
  • Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  • Living a balanced life

The SMART Recovery treatment program provides materials that correspond to each of these four points. These materials will help you learn how to manage addictive behaviors and live a more balanced lifestyle. In addition to the four-point system, SMART integrates behavior-centered therapies, including:

All these therapies are rooted in the theory that, by challenging the way you think in the present, you can stop destructive behaviors before they start. These are evidence-based practices that have been shown to be h effective in the treatment of addiction, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

A SMART treatment program also integrates tools such as:

  • Cost/benefit analysis
  • The Change Plan Worksheet
  • Hierarchy of values
  • ABCs of rational emotive behavior therapy (for both coping with urges and emotional upsets)
  • DISARM (Destructive imagery and self-talk awareness and refusal method)
  • Brainstorming
  • Role-playing/rehearsing

All these tools assist you in putting your addictive behaviors into perspective. Once you understand that your problematic behavior is causing destruction and negative outcomes, you can reduce or discontinue the behavior.

Foundation for SMART Recovery: Stages of Change

The SMART Recovery process can be broken down into five stages. People don’t necessarily move through these stages in one smooth progression. You might move up or down many times along the path to recovery. But, in general, this describes a common relationship dynamic with the recovery process:

  1. Precontemplation Stage – If you’re in this stage, you may feel pressured by others in your life to seek help for your substance use. You may blame others for your problems, including people, society, your environment, or your genes. You may feel hopeless about the future.
  2. Contemplation Stage – This is the first step toward change! When you’re in this stage, you’re beginning to desire a different outcome. You may still feel stuck, but you acknowledge that you have a problem and can imagine solving it. You might have indefinite plans to address the problem “soon.”
  3. Preparation Stage – If you’re in this stage, you have an action plan, though you’re not yet 100% committed to it. It’s common to hold onto feelings of ambivalence at this stage and possibly need encouragement from others.
  4. Action Stage – This is where you make real change. You modify behaviors and make use of the tools you’re offered along your recovery journey.
  5. Maintenance Stage – It takes work to maintain change. In maintenance, many people relapse to earlier stages (which is normal) and then learn just how much energy maintaining change requires over time.

What Can You Expect at a SMART Meeting?

SMART is an abstinence-based program, which means you’ll be expected to stop taking drugs or drinking altogether.

Meetings have an open format, during which SMART Recovery facilitators encourage people to share their personal experiences and any tools they have found helpful.

Meetings often include open discussions, which is different than the highly structured format of the 12-Step program.

Discover the Power of Choice

SMART Recovery is the concept that every person has the Power of Choice. Through tools that teach self-management and behavioral changes, the program empowers you with the choice to abstain from addictive substances or activities. The goal of SMART Recovery is to help you gain independence from your addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, etc.

The SMART Recovery program can be a great addition to an addiction recovery plan. It can be used together with a 12-step approach ( Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) or on its own. SMART Recovery can also be combined with a meditation or mindfulness practice, yoga, martial arts, or any other method or tool that brings balance and harmony into your life.

How Can You Get Started with SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery tools can be utilized in both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment settings. SMART supports the use of medically assisted withdrawal when appropriate and can be integrated into every stage of your recovery. Once you’ve reached enough stability to live

independently, SMART can continue to help you during the outpatient recovery stage and even during a relapse. You can build meetings into your aftercare plan.

We Can Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. Our professional addiction specialists will help you find a model of recovery that works for you.

We offer both 12-step and SMART Recovery approaches and personalized treatment plans to address your individual needs, beliefs, and preferences.

To talk to one of the treatment professionals at Footprints to Recovery, contact us today.



SMART Recovery Program in Costa Mesa | CA

SMART Recovery Program for Addiction

Alcohol and drugs can relieve stress and other effects of emotional and life problems. However, they only cover up the issues and can lead to many health conditions with continued use. When people develop an addiction, they require detox and rehab to learn how to manage it. They can also join a SMART Recovery program to help them stay on the path of sobriety.


SMART stands for “self-management and recovery training.” It’s a popular support program for those with addiction and behavioral disorders. Also, it helps people who have co-occurring disorders. However, it’s not a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

The objective of SMART Recovery is to educate people to control addictive behaviors by addressing underlying feelings and thoughts. Those who participate learn skills to manage cravings so that they can stay sober for longer.

Meanwhile, SMART continues to implement emerging, evidence-based treatment methods. Because of that, it’s a useful tool that Orange County substance abuse treatment programs can use to help people overcome addiction.

How It’s Similar and Different than 12-Step Programs

Although a SMART Recovery program is similar to a 12-step program, it’s also different. Both programs aim to help people with alcohol and drug use disorders stay sober. The programs do so through a series of practical assignments. Also, everyone who participates remains anonymous, so their identities remain within the meetings.

Where the two are different is how they define addiction. SMART Recovery doesn’t label people as having a “disease” or being “addicts.” The program considers them unproductive and discouraging titles.

Another difference is that it doesn’t believe that recovery is a lifelong process. The lifelong commitment and admitting or submitting to a higher power is one reason why people sometimes avoid 12-step groups. In a SMART Recovery program, however, they take charge of their lives. Then, they can graduate from recovery and begin new lives.

These differences are beneficial because one approach doesn’t work for everyone. People can choose the drug addiction treatment program that works best for them.

SMART Recovery Program In-Depth

SMART is an educational and mental health program, and it focuses on changing behaviors. Using techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, it helps people learn self-reliance so that they can take control.

In a traditional support group, peers in recovery help each other. During SMART meetings, however, trained volunteers help those in recovery identify specific behaviors and problems to address. Some of them have first-hand experience with alcohol and drug use.

In either case, the volunteers follow an organized and straightforward format for SMART Recovery meetings. Although they’re serious, they’re also fun. They don’t involve bringing up the past when there’s nothing that people can do about it. Instead, everyone talks about their current problems and focuses on resolving them while planning for better futures.

The 4 SMART Points

During the SMART Recovery program, participants follow a handbook with four points. Un a 12-step program, they don’t have to perform these points in any specific order. They can choose which ones need the most attention first or which ones they’re ready to address first. These points include:

  • Controlling behaviors, feelings and thoughts to prevent relapse
  • Dealing with cravings by identifying and avoiding triggers
  • Gaining and retaining motivation to stay sober
  • Maintaining a balanced lifestyle with a realistic plan and goals

Although the program accepts that relapse is possible, it’s not a necessary element in recovery. People can graduate from SMART Recovery when they complete these points. They have total self-control and no longer want to use at this point.

Supportive Addiction Treatment at Clear Life Recovery

Do you seek help for a substance use disorder? Whether you need an alcohol or prescription drug addiction treatment program, Clear Life Recovery can support you. We have both SMART and 12-step programs so that you can choose the best recovery option for you.

Clear Life Recovery creates a treatment plan for you that includes a full continuum of care. Your program may include:

  • Medical detox
  • Residential rehab
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Intensive outpatient program
  • Sober living

Take the first step to regain control over your life with quality addiction treatment. Supplement your recovery with a SMART Recovery program, too. Dial 866-261-7291 so that Clear Life Recovery can show you the way.


Everything You Need To Know About Smart Recovery

SMART Recovery Program for Addiction

SMART recovery is a four-point recovery program science and focused on abstinence.

The Self-Management and Recovery Training, or SMART, program focuses on a self-empowering system of recovery. Individuals are encouraged to take charge of their own lives and leave addiction behind.

The approach to SMART Recovery harnesses scientifically based methods of behavioral change. The core goal of the program is to help the person in treatment overcome the type of self-defeating thinking that hinders long-term sobriety and leads to relapse.

We’ll explore all aspects of SMART Recovery below starting with its origins.

History of SMART Recovery

SMART was founded in 1994 as a program developed from the earlier Rational Recovery.

Founded in 1985, Rational Recovery enjoyed success throughout the 1990s as an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups. Studies conducted at the time indicated that an individual was more ly to become and remain abstinent from alcohol if they participated in Rational Recovery meetings.

In 1992, the non-profit Rational Recovery held a meeting and the result was the incorporation of ADAHSN (the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network) and by 1994, the organization had rebranded to SMART Recovery.

So that’s how things got started, but how does SMART Recovery actually work?

Theory-Based Methodology

Much AA, the principles underpinning SMART Recovery are mutual support, confidentiality, and accessibility, but they are tied together with SMART evolving scientific knowledge.

Un AA, the prime focus of SMART Recovery is on self-empowerment as a means of accepting full responsibility rather than handing this off to a higher power. That said, while often positioned as non-spiritual, it’s perfectly possible for anyone spiritually inclined to participate. SMART Recovery programs can also be followed in tandem with a spiritually based alternative AA.

In group meetings, participants learn to control addictive behavior through self-reliance and positive coping strategies. The techniques applied to achieve this are borrowed from the disciplines of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), MET (motivational enhancement therapy), and REBT (rational emotive behavior therapy).

The way in which these skills and strategies are learned takes place within a four-point program.

A Four-Point Program

Un the 12-step model which is followed strictly step-by-step, the four-point program does not need to be followed consecutively.

The 4 areas, commonly referred to as points, are as follows:

  1. Building, increasing, and maintaining motivation
  2. A refusal to give in to urges
  3. Self-management without relying on any substances
  4. Rebuilding a balanced lifestyle

The SMART Recovery Toolbox is comprised of methods from CBT, MET and REBT to address each of these points.

1) Building, increasing and maintaining motivation

Without the willingness and dedication to stay sober, long-term recovery will always be fragile foundations. One of the key approaches to enhancing motivation to stay sober is by addressing the pros and cons of a life of abstinence.

For most people, setting aside addictive behaviors leads to dramatic improvements in terms of health, wellbeing, and relationships. Sobriety can also lead to a productive and financially stable lifestyle as patients will no longer be spending so much money on funding their habits.

On the flipside, continuing down the path of alcohol dependence or substance abuse includes neglected responsibilities and squandered potential. Relationships tend to unravel. Health and nutrition suffers. The long-term outlook is bleak.

By rigorously assessing these upsides of sobriety and the negative consequences of continuing down a path of abuse, motivation can be strengthened. This motivation can be a powerful driving force in the early days of recovery.

2) A refusal to give in to urges

Cravings for drink or drugs are an inevitable part of recovery, but SMART Recovery helps participants to create effective coping strategies that minimize the chance of relapse when these urges crop up.

SMART Recovery’s strength is that it teaches patients a number of techniques to help combat these cravings.Some of these strategies include investigating the root causes of triggers, practicing mindfulness, and learning how to identify and overcome irrational beliefs that can lead to a relapse.

There are many acronyms used in SMART Recovery beyond that of the actual name of the program and the ABCs is one extended exercise used to attack cravings head-on.

  • A: Activating Experience – This part of the exercise deals with identifying the triggers that lead to relapse
  • B: Beliefs – Whether rational or irrational, reality-based or wishful-based, beliefs take many forms. SMART Recovery teaches each patient to dispute and dismantle these beliefs, particularly when they’re irrational, to minimize the chance of relapse
  • C: Consequences – For every action, there is a reaction and this program teaches patients that a consequence is the direct result of allowing a trigger to cause a negative reaction.

With that bedrock set in place, SMART Recovery teaches the patient that urges are fleeting. By delaying urges for a short time they can be effectively resisted. Strategies for combating cravings include escape, acceptance, and substitution.

3) Self-management without relying on any substances

The third point concerns the detailed exploration of irrational beliefs that can be responsible for relapse. Whether it’s being placed in a compromising situation a party or a general emotion that brings about a craving, an awareness of irrational, and distorted thinking is key to overcoming it. Some triggers can be worked through while others are better to be avoided completely.

4) Rebuilding a balanced lifestyle

Getting sober is one thing. Staying sober is another thing entirely.

The crux of the fourth point is rebuilding and planning for the future both short-term and long-term goals. This is achieved by taking inventory of the things that are important and working to put them into practice.

Here, coping skills and relapse prevention along with taking advantage of community resources all play valuable roles in recalibrating life so it’s more rewarding and sustainable.

What Type of Addiction Is SMART Recovery Useful For Treating?

SMART Recovery can be used as a standalone program or in combination with other support groups.

The various Anonymous groups are segregated (Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous) but SMART Recovery, on the other hand, can be used to treat any of the following:

  • Alcoholism
  • Drug Addiction
  • Behavioral Disorders

While this tool may work, how impactful is it really?

How Effective Is This Program?

A 2018 study compared SMART Recovery with Alcoholics Anonymous, Women For Sobriety, and LifeRing Secular Recovery.

With income and demographics normalized, SMART Recovery was not quite as effective as AA in terms of total abstinence, alcohol drinking issues, or the outcomes of abstinence. However, when normalized for treatment goal, SMART Recovery participants actively pursuing abstinence fared just as well as AA members.

Since appropriate medications can be sanctioned and not stigmatized as “another form of addiction”, SMART Recovery can be highly effective for anyone with a dual diagnosis.

It Is Contrasted with 12-Step Programs

Both programs see a group of recovering alcoholics and drug users working together through a range of exercises to conquer addiction. Where most 12-step programs are segregated according to the nature of the addiction, SMART Recovery meetings are open to anyone regardless of the addiction.

With SMART Recovery, participants are not labeled with terms alcoholic or addict. Labels this are considered to serve no purpose and may, in some cases, interfere with treatment.

Many people avoid dealing with 12-step programs because they refuse to admit powerlessness over their own circumstances. With SMART Recovery, there’s no requirement to do so.

Indeed, the whole point of SMART Recovery is to actively make changes and to accept full responsibility.

While most 12-step programs are considered a lifelong affair, participants at SMART Recovery only attend meetings for as long as they prove useful and necessary.


Typically, SMART Recovery meetings are 90 minutes but they can take as little as 60 minutes.

The format is broadly similar:

  • Welcome
  • Personal updates
  • Setting the agenda
  • Coping: activating events
  • Pass the hat for donations
  • Review and homework
  • Socializing

One of the ways in which SMART Recovery meetings differ from 12-step programs is that patients are not asked to talk about past stories related to addiction. While programs AA use the idea of a higher power to aid in recovery efforts, this is not the case for SMART Recovery.

wise, patients are not given sponsors and there are no suggestions that you need to attend the meetings for life. Though it is generally recommended that a patient attends at least five meetings to determine if the process will be beneficial.

While AA is considered a lifelong commitment, participation in SMART Recovery is only encouraged for as long as it’s deemed necessary.

With roughly 1500 global SMART Recovery meetings taking place each week, not all facilitators have first-hand experience of alcoholism or addiction. Meetings are sometimes serious but often have a fun element involved. The socializing aspect is important, just with AA.

While SMART Recovery has proven to be effective in helping patients, is it possible that this program can help those close to the patient as well, though?

Can It Help Friends and Family of The Patient?

SMART Recovery meetings come with no requirements, so anyone close to the participant, whether friend or family, is welcome to attend. Loved ones are taught how to help motivate and encourage the patient throughout the recovery process. Just as SMART Recovery can help with a range of addictions, it can also help friends and family of the patient.

Pros and Cons

To conclude, here is a quick view of some of the leading benefits and drawbacks associated with SMART Recovery:


  • Totally inclusive with no entrance requirements for meetings
  • CBT, a tried and tested psychological approach
  • Suitable for treating a broad spectrum of addictions from drinking and drug addiction through to behavioral addictions
  • Works equally well whether or not you believe in a higher power


  • SMART Recovery is neither as well-known nor as widespread as 12-step programs AA
  • There’s no professional accountability since meetings are run by volunteers
  • Participants need commitment, determination, and a willingness for self-reflection. As such, this program is not the best fit for everyone

A Summary The Program

the four central points outlined above, the overall approach of SMART Recovery can be summarized as follows:

  • Participants learn how to empower themselves and become more self-reliant
  • There’s a strong focus on encouraging participants to actively rebuild their lives rather than hoping changes will simply occur without proper goal-setting
  • Psychological counseling and medication are both approved as combination therapies when appropriate
  • Attending meetings is encouraged but it’s also possible to undertake SMART Recovery online

What To Do Next

For more information concerning SMART Recovery, call our admissions line on 888-448-0302. If you or a loved one feels this form of treatment would be suitable, it’s possible to arrange a program in a matter of days. Feel free to contact us any time if you need further information regarding any aspect of recovery. Our Indiana treatment center is here to help.

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