SMART Recovery®

An alternative to the AA self-help approach is Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART), a not-for-profit mutual-aid group aimed at facilitating recovery from any addictive behaviour. Within Australia, there are now over 245 groups currently operating across most states.  

SMART Recovery® adopts a cognitive behavioural therapy framework, and diverges from AA in that it eliminates the focus on spirituality inherent to the AA 12-step approach. It uses a four-point recovery program (see Box 11.2) designed to enhance members’ motivation and teach techniques that help manage lifestyle and behavioural difficulties. Skills training involves exposure to (among other things) cost–benefit analyses, identifying and rectifying irrational thoughts, and role-playing. Although few studies have assessed the efficacy of SMART Recovery®, there is growing evidence for its effectiveness.

Box 11.2: The SMART Recovery® 4-Point Program™

Enhancing and maintaining motivation to abstain

Coping with urges

Problem solving (managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours)

Lifestyle balance (balancing momentary and enduring satisfactions)

People who are uncomfortable with AA’s spiritual focus may find the more secular approach of SMART Recovery® a useful self-help alternative.

Chapter Recommendation Grade of recommendation
11.3 SMART Recovery® may be an effective peer-support alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous for reducing alcohol consumption. C