A Recipe for Success

September 15, 2014
Roxanne Allen
SMART Recovery Meeting Facilitator
“The research evidence clearly demonstrates that a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment typically is a recipe for failure.” 1

If the one-size-fits-all approach is a recipe for failure, what approach is needed for success?


One of the central messages of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement is the declaration that there are many pathways and styles of long-term recovery from severe alcohol and other drug problems. 2

This concept applies not only to the many choices available for treatment options but also to the many choices now available for peer support. For many years the only options for addiction recovery peer support groups were based on a 12-step, external locus of control approach (AA, NA, GA, etc.)

One of the three mutual-aid groups featured at the recent ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) webinar, “Expanding Opportunities for Recovery: An Introduction to Three Secular, Abstinence-Based Mutual Aid Pathways,” was SMART Recovery®.

Self-Management and Recovery Training

Now in its 20th year, SMART Recovery (Self-Management And Recovery Training) is a science-based, international, self-empowering addiction recovery support group. Headquartered in the U.S., SMART Recovery exists to help people with all types of addiction and addictive behaviors including drug abuse and addiction, alcohol abuse, and addiction to other substances and activities.

SMART Recovery participants learn tools for recovery based on the latest scientific research. There are now 669 weekly face-to-face meetings held throughout the U.S. and an additional 630 elsewhere around the world. Interactive online meetings, an online message board and 24/7 chat room are also available to support anyone with Internet access.

SMART Recovery is an abstinence-based approach. It is open to individuals who are abstaining, and to those who are considering but have not yet committed to abstinence. SMART’s 4-Point Program encompasses the following areas:
  1. Building and Maintaining Motivation
  2. Coping with Urges
  3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors
  4. Living a Balanced Life
The SMART approach offers skills training for emotional and behavioral self-management. Using a variety of cognitive tools and a motivational interviewing style of interaction, SMART Recovery:

  • Teaches self-empowerment and self-reliance
  • Provides meetings that are educational, supportive, and include open discussions
  • Teaches techniques for self-directed change
  • Evolves as scientific knowledge of addiction recovery evolves
  • Supports the scientifically informed use of psychological treatment and legally prescribed psychiatric and addiction medication
In SMART Recovery’s self-empowering approach, participants are encouraged to take responsibility for their choices as they work on their individual recovery paths.


SMART Recovery meetings are structured to allow participation by all in attendance. Meetings start with the facilitator checking in with each participant after which an agenda is set based upon participant input. Open discussion follows and cross-talk is encouraged. All meeting facilitators and online volunteers complete a 30-hour training course in SMART Recovery tools and meeting practices.


SMART Recovery is recognized as a resource for addiction recovery by numerous organizations including the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), US Department of Health and Human Services, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), American Academy of Family Physicians, and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP).

For more information about how to participate in face-to-face or online meetings, or to learn how to start a SMART Recovery meeting in your area, visit www.smartrecovery.org.
References 1. National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, CASA Columbia 2012 Report on Addiction Treatment. https://archive.org/stream/781862-casa-columbia-addiction-med/781862-casa-columbia-addiction-med_djvu.txt

2. A Message of Tolerance and Celebration: The Portrayal of Multiple Pathways of Recovery in the Writings of Alcoholics Anonymous Co- Founder Bill Wilson; William White, M.A. and Ernest Kurtz, Ph.D. http://dbhids.org/assets/Forms--Documents/transformation/BillWhite/2010BillWilsonOnMultiplePathwaysOfRecovery.pdf

Roxanne Allen has been a volunteer for SMART Recovery since 2009. She is a co-developer of the SMART program for Family & Friends and currently serves on the Board of Directors.

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