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SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery can be an excellent solution for people seeking an addiction recovery support group outside a 12-step program. While many other support group programs are centered on a single type of addiction, SMART Recovery welcomes individuals with any addiction.

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Who Does SMART Recovery Help?

SMART Recovery meetings are open to individuals in recovery and their friends and family members. These meetings are free, though many groups will accept donations to help cover meeting costs.

SMART Recovery does not focus on any specific type of substance use disorder. Instead, SMART Recovery meetings are helpful for people in recovery from any substance abuse or addiction (including behavioral addictions and eating disorders).

What to Expect at a SMART Recovery Meeting

SMART Recovery meetings typically last between 60 to 90 minutes with roughly 3 to 12 people in attendance. They are available as in-person and online meetings.

The meeting facilitator opens the session by reading the Group Welcome, followed by check-ins, where participants can discuss any challenges or successes since the last meeting.

Once everyone who wants to has shared, the facilitator will lead the group in a discussion.

Once the support meeting ends, the facilitator will wrap up the session. Sometimes, a collection basket will be passed around for optional donations before everyone departs.

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SMART Recovery vs. 12-Step Programs

SMART Recovery was created as an alternative to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). You can choose the program that best suits your needs by understanding the key differences between the two styles.

SMART Recovery utilizes evidence-based tools centered around its 4-Point Program, while 12-step programs refer to its Twelve Steps for guidance. In addition, SMART Recovery is a science-based program, while AA, NA, and other 12-step programs were founded on spiritual principles.

SMART Recovery also focuses on building self-reliance and improving one’s mental health, whereas 12-step programs emphasize powerlessness to addiction and the belief in a higher power.

SMART Recovery 4-Point Program

SMART Recovery uses its 4-Point Program to encourage participants to make positive strides toward a life beyond addiction.

The four points of the program teach the following:

  1. Maintaining motivation to abstain from future substance abuse
  2. Learning how to cope with urges and temptation
  3. Managing one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  4. Living a balanced life through positive choices and habits

SMART Recovery 4-Point Program Tools and Techniques

SMART Recovery programs employ several tools to help users enjoy freedom from addiction throughout their recovery journey.

Some tools that SMART Recovery programs utilize include:

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis Tool: Participants examine their behaviors to uncover what risks and rewards lie behind them.
  • Hierarchy of Values: This worksheet allows participants to identify their core values, then narrow them down to reveal what is most important to them.
  • Change Plan Worksheet: Participants begin by identifying their long-term goals, then use this worksheet to create strategies for achieving them and monitor their progress.
  • DISARM: This tool helps participants identify and refute urges and impulses that could put their sobriety at risk
  • Role-Playing/Rehearsing: Participants can role-play scenarios in a safe environment to help them practice managing themselves under challenging situations.
  • ABCs of Coping with Urges: Participants learn to manage their emotions through a behavioral technique based on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT).

Check out their website’s SMART Recovery Toolbox section for a complete list of SMART Recovery tools and descriptions.

How to Find a SMART Recovery Meeting Near You

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and could benefit from attending a SMART Recovery meeting in your area, their meeting finder page lists local and online meetings.

The SMART Recovery website also offers a free online forum and message board to talk with others in recovery from your computer or smartphone.

There’s even a SMART Recovery mobile app with information and resources to help you throughout your recovery journey.

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FAQs about SMART Recovery

Does SMART Recovery cure addiction?

While there is no cure for addiction, resources like SMART Recovery are valuable for individuals battling addiction or already in addiction recovery.

Do you have to detox before starting SMART Recovery?

While detox is not a prerequisite for joining a SMART Program, detoxing before seeking treatment and recovery is recommended.


What is the difference between SMART Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous?

Twelve-step programs were founded on Christian principles and later expanded to encompass general spirituality. Members look to a higher power (of their choice) for guidance.

SMART Recovery has a more science-based approach to recovery and does not incorporate any spiritualism.

Additionally, SMART Recovery emphasizes self-empowerment, whereas 12-step programs focus on powerlessness in the face of addiction.

Does it cost money to attend SMART recovery meetings?

SMART Recovery meetings are free for anyone to attend. Many groups accept donations to help cover the costs of running the meetings.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. Beck AK; Forbes E; Baker AL; Kelly PJ; Deane FP; Shakeshaft A; Hunt D; Kelly JF; (2017, February). Systematic Review of Smart Recovery: Outcomes, process variables, and implications for research. Psychology of addictive behaviors : journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from

  2. McGhee, M. K. (2021, August 9). Smart recovery. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from

  3. History. SMART Recovery. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2023, from

  4. Principles & Positions. SMART Recovery. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2023, from

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