SMART Recovery stands for Self Management and Recovery Training, and it’s one of the most popular sobriety programs outside of Alcoholics Anonymous.
We’re inclined to like this program because it’s based heavily on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one of two therapies (the other is Motivational Enhancement Therapy) we draw from in the exercises in Drinker’s Helper.
Here is the short story on what SMART Recovery is, and here’s their website if you’d like more information:
It focuses on teaching you to challenge the thoughts that lead you to drink with arguments of your own. It also teaches you to recognize when you are feeling an urge to drink, such that you can either avoid your trigger or learn how to deal with it another way. Overall, the goal is to ensure you don’t just act on your urges to drink.
It also encourages members to build up and sustain their motivation to quit drinking. The program recognizes that people sometimes forget why they’ve changed, and the desire to drink creeps back up. They believe it’s helpful to really remember all the good that’s come your way from quitting.
It teaches you ways to cope with life’s stresses in other ways beside drinking. Overall, the program posits that drinking problems often stem from a failure to cope with life’s inevitable stresses (or rather from a desire to cope and a belief that drinking is a reasonable way to cope). You need new ways to deal with those same stresses, or you’ll just end up drinking again.
It encourages you to build up a meaningful, active, engaged life you want to be present for.
We of course like that, like Women for Sobriety, there is no reliance on a higher power to change. There is instead an encouragement of self-confidence to build up self-control. We also like the combination of coping skills and developing a meaningful life - two important facets of any such program.
The key element we think is missing is actually changing the way you think about alcohol itself. That’s why we have two whole courses in Drinker’s Helper about Rethinking Alcohol. At the core of our thinking is the idea that if you still deep down believe that alcohol does something good for you, you have to struggle to stick with sobriety. If you instead convince yourself that alcohol is not your friend, you can have a much easier time making changes.
If you’ve decided to cut back or quit drinking, we’d love to help. Try the Drinker’s Helper app free for a week, and if you like it, join our community of thousands cutting back or quitting drinking.