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SMART Recovery


Overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction is a long and gradual process that needs to be applied carefully. From the early stages of medical detox through to the later stages of relapse prevention, each element of treatment has an important role to play. The entire treatment process can be split into three separate components: detox, rehab, and aftercare. A range of medication and psychotherapeutic treatments are applied throughout this process, with examples including opiate replacement therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, 12-step facilitation, and moral reconation therapy. SMART Recovery is a treatment approach based on cognitive, motivational, and behavioral principles, with SMART programs implemented in six stages of change. If you or someone you know needs help for a drug or alcohol problem, SMART Recovery is available in Hawaii and across the United States.

What is SMART Recovery?

SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. This secular and scientifically-based approach borrows ideas from a number of established psychotherapy systems, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), motivational interviewing (MI), and rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). The SMART system is often applied once someone has left rehab, with these programs seen as an alternative to conventional 12-step groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). While SMART Recovery programs can also be used as a stand-alone form of addiction treatment, exclusivity is not required. SMART Recovery is an international non-profit organization, with group meetings available in Hawaii and across the America.

The Four-point Program

The SMART treatment system utilizes a four-point program, with these key points emphasized throughout the program: building motivation, coping with urges, problem solving, and lifestyle balance. The first point is concerned with enhancing and maintaining the motivation needed to abstain from drugs and alcohol. A lack of motivation is one main reason for relapse, and motivational techniques are used to help recovering addicts make changes from the inside-out. The second point is concerned with drug cravings and urges, and various techniques are used to recognize triggers and avoid high risk situations. The third point is concerned with solving problems by managing thoughts and feelings. The final point is concerned with balancing short and long-term pleasures and developing satisfaction from things other than drugs and alcohol.

The Six Stages of Change

The SMART system utilizes six stages of change alongside the four-point program. The progressive nature of the SMART system is an important part of the program, and recovering addicts are given different exercises at different stages of recovery. The first stage is known as precontemplation, and patients are typically unaware of their problem during this stage. The second stage is known as contemplation, with a detailed evaluation and cost/benefit analysis performed during this stage. The third stage, known as determination or preparation, involves the completion of a Change Plan Worksheet. The fourth stage is action, with the patient now learning new techniques through group and individual counseling. The fifth stage is maintenance, and the final stage is referred to as graduation.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a form of psychotherapy originally designed to treat depression disorder. This powerful form of treatment is now applied across a range of mental health and substance use disorders, including mood disorders, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and substance use disorders. CBT is based on cognitive and behavioral principles, and patients learn how to change their behavior step-by-step from the inside-out. The SMART Recovery system is largely based on CBT, with recovering addicts learning how to recognize problematic thoughts and feelings in order to change unhealthy behavioral responses.

If you are ready to begin the road to recovery, pick up the phone and speak to an addiction specialist to learn more about the benefits of SMART recovery.