Everyone has heard of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). The “anonymous” group of recovery programs are some of the most prevalent in the country, helping people get back to sobriety and leave their addictions behind. However, these programs are heavily religious, and some people who want to recover their lives aren’t comfortable relying on a spiritual methodology.

Until 1985, there were no alternatives for secular individuals to recover from drug addiction. In that year, Rational Recovery was founded to give secular individuals an option for leaving their addiction behind that wasn’t linked to a religious or spiritual anchor. Today, Rational Recovery has rebranded as SMART recovery and remains dedicated to its original premise.

What Are SMART Recovery Meetings?

SMART stands for Self-Management And Recovery Training. They hold meetings regularly to give attendees a way to resolve problems they may have with addiction. People who attend these meetings can develop ways to cope with their addiction and overcome it. To help these attendees, SMART Recovery relies on a four-point program. The four points that they teach are:

  • Building and Maintaining Motivation: This helps people motivate themselves to avoid the substance they are addicted to.
  • Coping with Urges: Trigger behavior can lead to a person falling prey to their urges. This point helps attendees manage their triggers sensibly.
  • Managing Thoughts, Behaviors, and Feelings: Self-acceptance and acknowledging emotional stress help a person manage their addiction and allow them to avoid relapse.
  • Living a Balanced Life: Sober life expectations are tempered, enabling an attendee to make changes that lead to a viable long-term recovery journey.

These points are scientifically backed and can be achieved through supervised Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

SMART Recovery Meetings

Concepts Of Mutual Support and Assistance

The concept of community is at the core of recovery programs worldwide. The community provides a network that serves to support a person. Developing this network helps with accountability in the face of adversity. Mutual support and assistance are some of the core tenets of SMART Recovery. It leverages the community of members but doesn’t tell them that they should seek fealty and forgiveness from a higher power.

Instead, it gives them the tools to seek forgiveness from real people within the community. The community provides support, testimonials about recovery, and the ability to talk and voice one’s concerns and fears. Having others listen and acknowledge the struggle is very powerful and can help people maintain their long-term sobriety.

SMART Recovery Meetings as An AA Alternative

SMART Recovery Meetings are based on mutual self-help, while 12-step programs like AA have their own ways of achieving recovery. One of the overarching principles that define SMART Recovery as unique is its lack of dependence on a higher power. Instead, SMART focuses on four points rooted in the scientific principles of CBT.

SMART Recovery doesn’t label its participants as “addicts” or “alcoholics.” It also embraces technology, allowing meetings to take place virtually and remotely. In a world where meeting in person could lead to the spread of disease, this is a step in the right direction for recovery programs. The Anonymous group of programs also see addiction as an untreatable disease. SMART Recovery approaches the issue from a different perspective, seeing it as a behavioral problem that can be fixed if a person adjusts their behavior.

Where Do SMART Recovery Meetings Happen?

SMART Recovery programs happen in various settings, usually in public areas. There’s also the option of joining a zoom call of the meeting and being there virtually if a person can’t get there in person. To figure out if there’s an in-person meeting near your location, you can rely on the SMART site to point you in the right direction. SMART Recovery options are numerous, but it’s up to the person seeking recovery to search out a meeting that’s right for them.

Who Runs SMART Recovery Meetings?

Rehab centers or non-governmental organizations typically run SMART Recovery meetings to benefit their communities. The groups usually meet once a week, in a central space that everyone can access if they see fit. A trained facilitator guides the meeting, giving people the opportunity to speak and discuss their situation. The focus in SMART Recovery is unique because it looks at a person’s behavior as the trigger for it. Practical, evidence-based tools help people who want to recover find their road to recovery.

Does SMART Recovery Charge Fees or Dues?

The SMART program is free to attend. Even if a person decides to connect to the Zoom meeting, they aren’t expected to pay for the service. The system isn’t designed to be a profit-based system but relies on volunteers to help individuals seeking recovery.

SMART Recovery Meetings

Benefits Of SMART Attendance

SMART Recovery is a way for individuals to recover from addiction and substance abuse that doesn’t have a religious theme around it. It offers several unique benefits to its attendees, including:

  • Simple: The plan and its four-point system are simple. There are no complicated rules or a manual that you have to use to remember what you can and cannot do. The system is based around a person’s behavior and changing their thoughts, and the actions that follow from them are at the core of the system’s success.
  • Self-Deterministic: SMART Recovery sees each person as an individual. It teaches that a person should become self-reliant and in charge of their own destiny. Empowering a person this way gives them agency in recovering from addiction.
  • Scientific: The program is built on 100% scientific principles, focusing on changing a person’s behavior through their thought process in keeping with the principles of CBT. This is distinctly different from other programs that are more emotionally based.
  • Peer Support Available: The group together forms a peer group that can offer support for the roughest parts of the addiction journey. The community aspect of SMART Recovery is a vital part of its success.

Drawbacks To SMART Recovery Meetings

While SMART Recovery is handy, some drawbacks make it a bit worse off than the Anonymous programs in some cases. Among these are:

  • Lack of Presence: Because it’s a smaller, less recognized organization, SMART Recovery doesn’t have the sheer volume of presence that the Anonymous systems have. Their virtual meetings make up for this lack of presence, but accessibility for these meetings is based on whether a person has a viable device or not.
  • Might Not Work for Everyone: One of the most significant downsides of these meetings is that it doesn’t work in all cases. Some people respond better to in-person discussions than virtual meetings. Others prefer to approach the problem from a faith-based perspective.
  • SMART Recovery programs don’t rely on a disease-based diagnosis for addiction, which might impact the success of their methods in some cases. Scientifically, addiction is classed as a disease, and ignoring this might have repercussions for the long-term recovery of an attendee.

Finding The Right Treatment for You

Can you have lasting Recovery with SMART And Pathfinders? The answer is yes. We provide SMART Recovery meetings to individuals who want to leave their addiction behind. Our trained staff is well-versed in theory, and we’ve been supporting others with their recovery for years. Let’s help you today. Give us a call or contact us to learn more about our SMART Recovery options and when they meet. We’ll be waiting to hear from you!


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  • (877) 224-0761
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