Alcohol and drugs can relieve stress and other effects of emotional and life problems. However, they only cover up the issues and can lead to many health conditions with continued use. When people develop an addiction, they require detox and rehab to learn how to manage it. They can also join a SMART Recovery program to help them stay on the path of sobriety.


Male client and counselor working on his SMART recovery programSMART stands for “self-management and recovery training.” It’s a popular support program for those with addiction and behavioral disorders. Also, it helps people who have co-occurring disorders. However, it’s not a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

The objective of SMART Recovery is to educate people to control addictive behaviors by addressing underlying feelings and thoughts. Those who participate learn skills to manage cravings so that they can stay sober for longer.

Meanwhile, SMART continues to implement emerging, evidence-based treatment methods. Because of that, it’s a useful tool that Orange County substance abuse treatment programs can use to help people overcome addiction.

How It’s Similar and Different than 12-Step Programs

Although a SMART Recovery program is similar to a 12-step program, it’s also different. Both programs aim to help people with alcohol and drug use disorders stay sober. The programs do so through a series of practical assignments. Also, everyone who participates remains anonymous, so their identities remain within the meetings.

Where the two are different is how they define addiction. SMART Recovery doesn’t label people as having a “disease” or being “addicts.” The program considers them unproductive and discouraging titles.

Another difference is that it doesn’t believe that recovery is a lifelong process. The lifelong commitment and admitting or submitting to a higher power is one reason why people sometimes avoid 12-step groups. In a SMART Recovery program, however, they take charge of their lives. Then, they can graduate from recovery and begin new lives.

These differences are beneficial because one approach doesn’t work for everyone. People can choose the drug addiction treatment program that works best for them.

SMART Recovery Program In-Depth

SMART is an educational and mental health program, and it focuses on changing behaviors. Using techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, it helps people learn self-reliance so that they can take control.

In a traditional support group, peers in recovery help each other. During SMART meetings, however, trained volunteers help those in recovery identify specific behaviors and problems to address. Some of them have first-hand experience with alcohol and drug use.

In either case, the volunteers follow an organized and straightforward format for SMART Recovery meetings. Although they’re serious, they’re also fun. They don’t involve bringing up the past when there’s nothing that people can do about it. Instead, everyone talks about their current problems and focuses on resolving them while planning for better futures.

The 4 SMART Points

During the SMART Recovery program, participants follow a handbook with four points. Unlike a 12-step program, they don’t have to perform these points in any specific order. They can choose which ones need the most attention first or which ones they’re ready to address first. These points include:

  • Controlling behaviors, feelings and thoughts to prevent relapse
  • Dealing with cravings by identifying and avoiding triggers
  • Gaining and retaining motivation to stay sober
  • Maintaining a balanced lifestyle with a realistic plan and goals

Although the program accepts that relapse is possible, it’s not a necessary element in recovery. People can graduate from SMART Recovery when they complete these points. They have total self-control and no longer want to use at this point.

Supportive Addiction Treatment at Clear Life Recovery

Do you seek help for a substance use disorder? Whether you need an alcohol or prescription drug addiction treatment program, Clear Life Recovery can support you. We have both SMART and 12-step programs so that you can choose the best recovery option for you.

Clear Life Recovery creates a treatment plan for you that includes a full continuum of care. Your program may include:

  • Medical detox
  • Residential rehab
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Intensive outpatient program
  • Sober living

Take the first step to regain control over your life with quality addiction treatment. Supplement your recovery with a SMART Recovery program, too. Dial 866-261-7291 so that Clear Life Recovery can show you the way.