If there were one foolproof method for treating addiction it would make life much easier for those who are dealing with this type of problem. Things may change in the future but at the moment there is no one size fits all approach. This means that each individual needs to find a program that works best for them. One of the most popular recovery options is the 12 Step program but some people find that approaches such as SMART Recovery work better for them. The benefit of having a number of options is that there should be something to suit everyone.
Not everyone is comfortable with the spiritual approach to addiction recovery that is advocated by groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Those individuals who are nonbelievers can feel alienated by talk of God or higher power. They desire a program that has no religious undertones. SMART recovery is just one of a number of options available to people looking for a more secular approach. Other groups that avoid reliance on religious or paranormal intervention include:
* The Secular Organization for Recovery (SOS) is an abstinence based program that involves attendance at support groups. The individual needs to make staying sober their number one priority in life and take responsibility for their own recovery.
* Rational Recovery opposed the disease theory of addiction, and believes that once the individual is sober they no longer have to consider themselves to be an addict. There is no requirement to attend support groups – in fact such attendance is viewed as harmful because it reinforces the idea that the individual has some type of disease.
* Some people will go it alone in recovery without any help or support. This is not an approach that will work for everyone because it so often means that the individual is unprepared for life away from addiction.
Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART) offers an approach to addiction recovery that is secular and based on scientific discoveries. It includes techniques such as motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and motivational enhancement therapy.
SMART breaks addiction recovery up in four areas which they refer to as the four points which include:
* Building motivation
* Coping with urges
* Problem solving
* Lifestyle balance
Once the individual has found away to manage the four points they are well on their way to a successful recovery.
The SMART program recognizes seven stages of change in their addiction recovery program. These stages include:
* Those people who are in the pre-contemplation stage are still drinking heavily or using drugs. They may not even believe that they have a problem at this stage.
* The contemplation stage is where the individual begins to weigh up the pros and cons of their behavior.
* It is at the determination/preparation stage that those who wish to use the SMART program will create a change plan worksheet.
* The next step is to take action to end the addiction. The action stage is the point when most people will say that their recovery begins.
* Once the individual has entered recovery they will move onto the maintenance stage. Here they need continue taking whatever action is needed to keep them sober.
* The individual may next enter the relapse stage where they return to their former habits. It is vital to understand that this stage is not compulsory but many individuals do seem to need multiple attempts before they reach lasting sobriety.
* Once people have fully established themselves in recovery they may decided that they have graduated from the SMART program. Once the termination stage has been reached the individual can consider their addition to be a thing of the past.
SMART advocates a number of views about addiction recovery such as:
* There is no need to adopt religious or spiritual beliefs in order to escape an addiction.
* The goal of the program is to help the individual gain independence from addictive behavior. It does not encourage people to exchange a dependence on alcohol or drugs to a dependence on a support group.
* The program acknowledges that addictive behavior exists on a spectrum, and all humans will be involved in addictive behavior to some extent.
* There is no need for the individual to always consider themselves as a recovering addict. People in SMART can and do graduate from the program and get on with their lives.
* It supports the idea that any advances in science that could benefit people in recovery should be taken advantage of. This means that their program is not set in stone.
* Once people have achieved sustained sobriety there is no requirement for them to stay involved in SOS. Some members do decide to stay involved because they want to help other people.
* Members of SMART are not discouraged from attending 12 Step groups if they feel that this will help them.
* Just giving up an alcohol or drugs is usually not enough. The individual will also be expected to make changes in many areas of their life to foster their recovery.
There are some good reasons for why people might want to choose SMART as their recovery option including:
* This program does not encourage people to believe in any sort of religious or spiritual belief. This can make it far more appealing to nonbelievers.
* Some individuals dislike the idea of always being in recovery. With the SMART program they can have their graduation day.
* Members are encouraged to explore all the latest scientific research so as to create the best possible recovery.
* Members are not discouraged from using other programs alongside SMART.
* If people have already failed at a 12 Step group it may be time for them to try something different.
* Those people who are members of SMART do not believe that there is only one way to get better. This means that they do not feel the need to push their own approach onto other people as the only possible cure.
* Those people who stay in SMART long term do so out of a wish to help other people and not because they need to keep attending to stay sober.
* The individual is empowered to take charge of their own recovery.