Countless people have found recovery in 12-step groups. Yet only 1 in 10 people who need treatment for addiction receive it. Is it SMART to try something different? SMART recovery advocates give a resounding YES!

Founded in 1994, SMART recovery stands for Self-Management And Recovery Training. SMART has grown steadily since its inception. Tens of thousands of people gather weekly at more than 2,600 meetings in 25 countries. People anywhere in the world can attend another 30 weekly meetings online. Additionally, many more receive support through online chatrooms and message boards.

How Is SMART Different?

SMART uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing to recognize and change their addictive behaviors. Their recovery program focuses on these four points:

  1. Enhancing motivation;
  2. Refusing to act on urges to use;
  3. Managing life’s problems in a sensible and effective way without substances; and
  4. Developing a positive, balanced, and healthy lifestyle.

SMART Recovery teaches people how to:

  • Quit alcohol and other drugs
  • Change other behavioral problems
  • Cope with urges using problem solving techniques

Does SMART Work?

Almost all of the research on recovery success has examined 12-step groups because they are:

  • Widespread
  • Easily accessible in communities, and
  • Often serve as referral resources for treatment programs and providers

However, a few initial studies that have been conducted on SMART, and the findings have been positive. The first review showed that attending more SMART Recovery meetings resulted in better alcohol outcomes. Review authors would like to do further research to see if SMART can provide similar results for individuals with substance use disorders.


You have choices in recovery.


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Recovery Answers
Founded in 2012 by Dr. John F. Kelly, the Recovery Research Institute is a team of highly innovative and rigorously trained scientists working through research, education, and outreach, to enhance recovery through science. As an entity of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, the institute is known as a leader in the scientific investigation of substance use disorder mechanisms and processes.

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