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“There are various approaches to recovery and SMART Recovery is just one...What is important is to find the one that suits you, and fits best” (MacGregor & Herring, 2010)


SMART stands for 'Self Management and Recovery Training'. SMART is a science-based mutual aid programme to help people manage their recovery from any type of addictive behaviour. 

There are many paths to recovery. Research into various recovery methods and therapies suggests that mutual aid can help recovery and so can treatment – a combination of the two is probably even better for many people

The SMART Recovery approach

  • Teaches self-empowerment and self-reliance;
  • Provides meetings that are educational, supportive and include open discussions;
  • Assists individuals to recover from addiction and live satisfying lives;
  • Supports the scientifically informed use of psychological treatments and legally prescribed psychiatric and addiction medication;
  • Evolves as scientific knowledge in addiction recovery evolves;
  • Differs from Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other 12 step programmes.

SMART began in 1994 in the United States. It has grown into a worldwide network of self-help meetings, both face-to-face and online, where participants can get help from others in recovery. SMART operates as a non-profit organisation in many countries including the United States, Denmark, the UK, Canada and Australia.  In the past two years SMART has been operating face to face meetings in Bray through BCAT's efforts.  Irish online meetings are not yet available but you can attend online meetings through the international sites.

SMART Recovery helps participants decide whether they have a problem, builds up their motivation to change and offers a set of proven tools and techniques which are derived from Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivation Enhancement Therapy. 

The four point programme focuses on:-

  1. Building and Maintaining Motivation
  2. Coping with Urges
  3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviours
  4. Living a Balanced Life

People can stay with SMART as long as it is helpful to do so. There is no requirement to make a lifetime commitment to the programme, just to recovery and leading a healthier life.

Many people find that continuing to participate in SMART after they have recovered helps them avoid lapses or relapses. Some will volunteer to train as Facilitators and set up further meetings. Others simply continue to attend meetings and share their experiences with others.

Within SMART, labels are not thought to help with recovery and are avoided. People are not called ‘addicts’, ‘alcoholics’, ’druggies’, or other disparaging labels within meetings.

While we are building up our section on SMART Recovery on this website feel free to go to www.smartrecovery.org for more information.  The Resource section is full of interesting information SMART and on the tools to assist you move through the programme.