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SMART Recovery: A Self-empowering Approach to the Treatment of Addiction

SMART uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that has been proven to treat addiction successfully.There are many options available to those with addictive behaviours when they make the decision to enter into recovery. A variety of rehab centers are easily found throughout Canada including Sobriety Home. These centres offer numerous approaches to addiction recovery therapy and offer medical, psychological and behavioural programs aimed towards a “complete” recovery concept. AA and NA have been around for many years and are well known both within the recovery community and without. The 12-step program of AA has been well established as an effective support process that compliments the communal support experienced within the AA and NA group meetings. Rehabs and the AA model are the “recognized” addiction recovery options having established themselves throughout the world and are universally recognized.

There are, however, a number of alternative and complimentary avenues open to those seeking a path to recovery. One such program is SMART Recovery; a non-12 step program that emphasizes a “self-empowering” approach to alcohol and drug addiction recovery. It is a scientific research based concept that offers certain distinct characteristics that are not prominent in the 12 step AA mandate. Often the emphasized distinction rests in the contrast between the “self-empowerment” of SMART and the “powerlessness” of AA. It is important not misconstrue the term “powerlessness” as it applies to the AA model. The powerlessness relates to alcohol (or narcotics) – it addresses the fundamental and primary concern that affects the addict during the initial stages of his or her recovery: the recognition that the substance that is being abused is destroying a life. Acknowledgement of the individual’s lack of power over the substance is a key factor that leads the addict towards the path of recovery. It does not insist on a “powerlessness” regarding the other elements that comprise the “character” of those seeking help. The “self-empowerment” that is more emphasized in the SMART recovery model actually compliments the initial “powerlessness” – it encourages the individual to embrace the “power” of his or her individual resolve regarding the goals set in life while acknowledging that such power is subordinated to the power of the substance abuse. SMART approaches the issue of recovery by employing a cognitive behavioural therapy concept that believes that self-empowerment can considerably aid the recovering addict/alcoholic in managing the controlling power that the abused substance has over the addict. In a sense, the powerlessness and the self-empowerment can go hand in hand. Much depends on the specific characteristics of the individual in determining which method will be most effective. Often a combination of the two can have profound results.

Sobriety Home has added SMART Recovery to its addiction treatment program. We encourage all recovering addicts and alcoholics to explore any and all available methods at their disposal. It is not necessary to “choose” one or the other. Attending SMART meetings or participating in the on-line SMART discussion groups can be done in conjunction with the attendance at AA meetings and the participation within a rehab center. The foundational bottom line is that we encourage all individuals to pursue a form of treatment and recovery that is best suited to their character and needs. AA and NA are always available and never discouraged. But the cognitive behavioural therapy offered at Sobriety Home, as well as the science oriented, 4-point program: 

1. Enhancing and Maintaining Motivation to Abstain
2. Coping with Urges
3. Problem Solving -Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours
4. Lifestyle Balance - Balancing momentary and enduring satisfactions

SMART Recovery involves a more self empowering approach that can be utilized as an effective compliment or even substitute for to 12-step ideology of AA. What is most important throughout the “recovery community” is that NO program or ideology that aims to assist addicts and alcoholics in their recovery should be maligned or dismissed; ALL treatments should be encouraged and promoted in order to allow each recovering individual to be exposed to the program that will be the most affective in his or her particular situation.

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