Your First SMART Recovery Meeting
First posted on SMART Recovery
So, you’re considering attending a SMART Recovery meeting. We applaud you for reaching this point in your recovery! Your consideration might come with one or a mix of emotions – fear, anticipation, anxiety, excitement, empowerment. Many of us have been there ourselves, and appreciate that these feelings are valid based on where you are in your recovery journey. Rest assured, many thousands of individuals who have gone through our program are so glad that they decided to become a part of SMART Recovery.
Before you attend your first meeting, it may be helpful to get a better understanding of what to expect as a SMART Recovery meeting participant. This article will provide you with:
- An overview of our 4-Point Program
- 10 things that will help you prepare for attending your first meeting
- An answer to the question, “Will SMART Recovery work for me?”
- How to find a SMART Recovery meeting
- General info about SMART Recovery
The SMART Recovery 4-Point Program
As you may have already seen, the SMART Recovery program is based around our science-based 4-Point Program, which helps individuals gain independence from addiction of all kinds, including substances or activities (behaviors). Our 4-Point Program includes many ideas and techniques to help you change your life from one that is self-destructive and unhappy to one that is constructive and satisfying. Our efforts are based on scientific knowledge and evolve as scientific knowledge evolves.
The 4 Points include:
- Point 1 – Building and Maintaining Motivation
- Point 2 – Coping with Urges
- Point 3 – Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors
- Point 4 – Living a Balanced Life
While these points are listed in order, that does not necessarily mean one might go straight through from point 1 to point 4. There may be many ups and downs in a person’s recovery. This is not considered a failure but more about using the tools that are suggested in each of the 4 points to help them get back on track. These tools are also referred to as life tools and can continue to help a person throughout their lifetime.
What You Need to Know Before Attending Your First SMART Meeting
Now that you have been introduced to our 4-Point Program, let’s get you ready to attend a meeting. To help you feel more comfortable about walking into a SMART Recovery meeting (in-person or online) for the first time, we have provided some important facts about our organization’s unique and welcoming approach to meetings.
You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to. Our meetings often start with a check-in. Typically, this includes a brief introduction to yourself and how you came across SMART Recovery. Good news – you’re not obligated to check-in. In fact, it’s important to know that you don’t have to talk at all during the meeting if you’re not comfortable doing so. Click here to see a basic meeting outline.
Our program does not rely on a higher power. At SMART Recovery, we believe that the power to change addictive behaviors resides within each individual and does not depend upon adherence to any spiritual viewpoint. While this is true, the use of religious or spiritual beliefs and practices in recovery is a personal choice, and many choose to combine their beliefs with our program.
Self-management is an important part of our program. As found in our name – Self-Management and Recovery Training – we believe that everyone has the power within themselves to change and to build the life they want to live. You are in charge of your recovery and the decisions you make in your journey. It is also important to understand that we do not require you to accept the guidance of a sponsor, or commit to any requirements other than the goals of recovery that you set for yourself.
It doesn’t matter what you’re dealing with – no one will judge or label you. No matter your addiction – drugs, alcohol, shopping, eating, relationships – you can feel comfortable coming to SMART Recovery meetings, interacting with our community and utilizing our tools. You can also feel comfortable knowing that no one will label you an “alcoholic”, an “addict” or “diseased” nor “powerless”, and if you do not believe in a religion or spirituality, that’s fine, too.
SMART Recovery focuses on your recovery story and not your war stories. Because we are so focused on the good that you are doing in your life, we will not let you or anyone in our meetings dwell for long on the challenges you’ve faced to this point. Our meetings are focused on helping you get from where you are today to the person you want to become and quality of life you want to have.
We won’t judge you for slips, lapses or relapses. At SMART Recovery, we do not believe a lapse or return to usage means you are starting over. Instead, should a recurrence happen, we encourage you to use what is learned to move closer to your end goals. You are always welcome at our meetings and will not feel judged should you find yourself in this situation.
We welcome individuals at meetings using appropriately prescribed medications for many purposes. SMART has always welcomed people at meetings using appropriately prescribed medications for many purposes, including treatment of mental health conditions, initial withdrawal from substance use and recovery from addiction.
Our meetings belong to the attendees. This means that although there is a facilitator present, the facilitator’s role in the meeting is not to present for an audience, but instead to encourage peer support and discussions amongst the participants. Facilitators often find themselves joining into conversations, explaining and recommending a variety of SMART tools and resources that can be applied to an individual or group’s situation, and simply helping to ensure the meeting keeps moving and is conducive.
We have a variety of tools available to aid in your recovery. Tools are a large part of our discussion at meetings. We have several tools available – from a change plan worksheet and a cost/benefit analysis, to role-playing/rehearsing and unconditional self-acceptance. Our tools and techniques are based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT). We encourage individuals to find the tools and techniques that work best for you in your journey. Over time, as you continue to master them, they will become a part of your everyday life and these skills will help you cope and deal with troubling situations related and unrelated to your addiction. Click here to view our SMART Recovery Toolbox to see some of the tools and worksheets available.
SMART Recovery Online (often seen on our site as SROL) is a great option, too. Perhaps there isn’t an in-person meeting close to your hometown. Or, you feel more comfortable dipping your toe in the water before jumping all in and coming to a meeting. You can feel free to check out our online community, where we have daily online meetings, as well as 24x7x365 message board forums and chat rooms. SMART Recovery is available to you when you need it. Visit smartrecovery.org/community/ to learn more about our online community.
So, will SMART Recovery work for you?
Due to the self-empowering nature of SMART Recovery, we can’t answer that for you. We want it to work for you. It has worked for many others and we believe it can work for you, too. But, the only way you’ll get your answer is if you give it a try and give it your all.
How to Find a SMART Recovery Meeting
In-Person: To locate a SMART meeting near you, visit here: Meetings in your area. Just type in your zip code and you’ll be presented with a map of the meetings within a 50 mile radius of your location. You can adjust your results by changing the radius of the search. You will also see an option to “Toggle Tag Filters” to see only the types of meetings.
Online: To sign up for an online meeting, please visit our SMART Recovery community. SROL respects ones’ anonymity. We also have volunteers monitoring all activities in order to keep SMART Recovery online a safe place for everyone. There is both personal, as in answering questions, and online technical support available, as well.
About SMART Recovery
Founded in 1994, SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) uses science-based techniques that have proven to be effective in helping people recover from addiction problems involving any substance or behavior, including such things as alcohol, drugs, gambling, over-eating, shopping and internet use.
Each week, many thousands of people discuss recovery progress and challenges at more than 3,000 meetings in 23 countries, 25 online gatherings and 24/7/365 internet message board forums and chat rooms.
Participants use SMART to assume responsibility for their own recovery and become empowered using its 4-Point Program®: building motivation; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors; and living a balanced life.
For more information, please visit our website: SMART Recovery.
And here is a link to a podcast on AA Beyond Belief about SMART Recovery: Episode 9: Talking SMART with Steve Bergier.
A super podcast.