SMART Recovery (Self Management and Recovery Training) is a world-wide, secular, science-based nonprofit organization that provides free addiction-recovery support groups.

SMART Recovery, which tries to avoid using the labels “addict" and “addicted," focuses on all types of possibly addictive behaviors, including illicit and prescription drugs, alcohol, and gambling.

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People who participate in SMART Recovery programs meet both in person and through online meetings. The organization has a significant online presence that not only informs people about the program, but also encourages people to meet with and talk to others in the online SMART Recovery forums.

SMART is a 4-Point program that encourages its participants to focus on

  • Building and Maintaining Motivation
  • Coping with Urges
  • Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors
  • Living a Balanced Life

Participants work on being self-accepting, understanding how to make rational decisions, controlling and accounting for emotional problems that may be a result of or even cause their addiction, creating a hierarchy of their values that helps them to understand how to better organize their lives. Ultimately, participants pursue a balanced life in which they can be happy.

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In addition to helping those who suffer from addiction, SMART Recovery also includes SMART Recovery Family & Friends. SMART Recovery Family & Friends promotes the Community Reinforcement Approach & Family Training (CRAFT) approach to helping families protect themselves and their addicted loved ones.

CRAFT encourages loved ones to protect themselves and their own safety first. When their well-being is secured, the concerned significant others should then work to ensure their loved one receives treatment for her or his addiction.

How is SMART Recovery Different From a 12-Step Program like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous?

SMART makes it clear in its promotional materials that it is a “4-Point Program" and not a 12-Step program. They differentiate themselves from 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous in various ways:

  • SMART is science-based whereas Alcoholics Anonymous is spiritual in nature.
  • SMART encourages people to take control of their lives and focus on what they term “self-reliance," rather than 12-Step programs' focus on helplessness.
  • SMART Recovery has no sponsors. While people may go to SMART Recovery meetings for months or even years, they are not encouraged to do it for a lifetime.
  • SMART encourages family and friends to help their loved ones through their recovery rather than detaching themselves.

Who supports SMART Recovery's work?

A number of social service organizations have applauded SMART Recovery's work to help addicts. These programs support SMART's work within communities:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • Center for Health Care Evaluation
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • US Department of Health and Human Services
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine