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A Comparison of SMART Recovery and 12 Step Programs

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

For those suffering from addiction, recovery programs can be a critical part of the healing process. Two of the most popular recovery models are the 12-step program and SMART Recovery. While both offer valuable guidance and support for individuals struggling with addiction, they differ in their approach to recovery. Let’s explore the differences between these two models.

The 12-Step Program

The 12-Step Program is a spiritual model that focuses on accepting one’s powerlessness over addiction and seeking help from a higher power. This widely popular program is based on the Alcoholics Anonymous model, which was established in 1935. The program involves twelve steps that focus on self-reflection and personal growth, beginning with admitting one’s powerlessness over their addiction and ending with helping other addicts find sobriety. Some participants find the religious aspect of this program comforting, while others prefer a more secular approach to recovery.

Group of people sitting in a circle holding hands and pray together or in therapy session

The Benefits of Using the 12 Steps Program

The Twelve Steps provide an effective framework for individuals struggling with addiction by providing structure for recovery efforts through actionable steps that lead towards freedom from addiction’s grasp over life choices and behaviors. The program offers tangible tools for confronting difficult issues like guilt, shame, fear, resentments, codependency, self-centeredness, dishonesty, denial, pridefulness, low self-esteem, selfishness, loneliness etc. Additionally, it provides support through shared experiences among its members who understand what it means work hard reclaiming one’s life from destruction caused by substance abuse.

Through guidance of experienced sponsors who have gone through similar experiences themselves allows participants connect better their higher power develop understanding true nature their actions consequences. Furthermore, participating group meetings provides opportunity share stories victories defeats build strong support networks help keep each other accountable during process rebuilding relationships family members acquaintances restoring trust within themselves society as whole.

SMART Recovery

In contrast to the spiritual focus of the 12-step program, SMART (Self Management And Recovery Training) Recovery is a more secular approach to overcoming addiction through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This evidence-based program seeks to empower individuals by teaching them how to manage triggers and cravings by developing coping skills such as self-talk and problem-solving techniques. Participants are also encouraged to practice self-care activities such as yoga or meditation, which can help reduce stress levels and improve overall wellbeing. Additionally, SMART Recovery does not require participants to believe in any particular religion or God — it simply encourages participants to embrace whatever works best for them personally in order to achieve sobriety and live a healthier life.

How Does SMART Work?

SMART Recovery is designed to help people with any kind of addiction, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, or something else. The program focuses on helping participants build the motivation to change their behavior and develop coping skills they can use in challenging situations. This can be done through various activities such as journaling, attending support group meetings, and taking part in discussion forums. Participants also set goals for themselves and work on strategies for achieving them.

Benefits of SMART Recovery

Participants of the SMART Recovery program have reported a number of positive benefits including improved relationships with family members and friends; increased ability to cope with stressors; reduced feelings of depression or anxiety; improved communication skills; better overall mental health; lower relapse rates; improved sleep quality; fewer cravings for substances/behaviors; and an overall increase in self-esteem and confidence. Additionally, many participants report feeling empowered by taking ownership over their recovery process instead of relying solely on outside sources for help.

Ultimately, deciding which recovery model is right for you depends on your own unique needs and preferences. The 12-step program provides an emotionally supportive environment rooted in spirituality that may be beneficial for some people dealing with addiction issues; however, others may prefer a more scientific approach like SMART Recovery which offers practical tools for managing cravings and avoiding relapse triggers. Whichever path you choose, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone — there is a wide variety of resources out there specifically tailored towards helping individuals overcome their addictions so they can lead healthier lives.

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