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Interest in and Experience with SMART Recovery?

Old 06-15-2021, 03:21 PM
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Interest in and Experience with SMART Recovery?

Hi everyone,

I'm never sure why SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is not discussed more on SR. I've returned to intensely participating in it after making a rather uncomfortable and circular mess of myself in the last few weeks here on SR, with way too much drama that I dislike and tend to run from. Of course, it does not mean I do not appreciate the great value of this forum, especially when I'm sober, and especially the information and shared experiences. Not 100% sure now, but I think it was also some hints on SR that led me to checking out SMART fin the first place many years ago. My problem (as usually) was getting stuck at studying it and not applying it to myself. But I had good, very satisfying, and sort of instant success with finally creating some meaningful recovery while engaging in SMART deeply and daily last year. I now started doing the same six days ago (after my last awful drinking binge, part of it documented in my SR posts) and already feel a big difference on many levels, quite like last year when I started. Even my alcohol cravings have not been awful at all during these days so far - big difference vs. the months this spring/until recently, when I struggled so much with constant, massive urges even when I sometimes abstained for a week or two, didn't use SMART, but engaged in quite a few of my worst triggers instead... bad ideas, never again, hopefully! Of course I do not have naive ideas that my urges will somehow vanish or very significantly lessen for a while, but even more incentive to engage in SMART, which has a very comprehensive urge management section.

I am already very familiar with the SMART tools but have been doing a lot of refreshing, redoing some of the exercises (I really need updates as my life has changed quite a bit since last year), attend Zoom meetings daily. The online meetings are so helpful once again, much more than just posting on the web in an unstructured way and communicating via text. The "text alone", non real-time tends to be a trigger for me also because the this type of interaction was an intimate, long-term part of my alcoholism for many many years (almost just as addictive as alcohol itself!); finally accepted that I won't be able to make SR and similar forums alone safe/helpful for me in early recovery because of that history. However, reading and occasionally posting here in a focused way was helpful last year, while also using SMART simultaneously, so I don't want to abandon SR completely. The problems (and the relapse, a few weeks before I actually picked up alcohol, I would say) started when I stopped SMART and tried to only use SR again, or AVRT because I wanted something simpler... but those approaches alone just didn't suit me personally, at least not this early on.

The SMART program seems like an absolute goldmine for me when I use it, and just the way it is, no need to tweak, no skepticism, no resistance, no confusion, no desire to debate or doubt it. It's very comprehensive, covering a large area of recovery and just any attempt to change or upgrade a life. The specific SMART meetings differ quite a bit depending on the actual facilitator's approach and style, but they all share the same philosophy. I like the variety and have no need/intention to select and stick with one main group, but of course have preference for some over others. They are a lot like group therapy as well, which I've wanted to try as I still have an interest in psychotherapy but individual wasn't helpful for me (and often triggering in some similar ways to posting on forums that I'm better to avoid in early recovery or during any lapse, I strongly believe). These Zoom SMART groups seem like a very good fit for me and I never even have the temptation to lie or mislead intentionally in those real-time meetings, to use them primarily as a social experience, which had been a long-term, annoying struggle with communication that is not the instant kind (message boards, private messages). After all, it seems like I benefit from healthy, normal spontaneity in recovery more than methods that allow me to plan and calculate communication all the time. Even easier to be vulnerable when we directly speak, video is optional/unimportant for me right now. SMART also has an online forum with lots of great posts mostly about the tools that I sometimes read and would recommend to interested SRers, but I personally don't plan to use for obvious challenges regarding forums .

Anyhow, I am starting this thread for any shares and discussion on SMART Recovery, as there isn't much on SR and I absolutely believe many could benefit from knowing and exchanging more info on this approach. Please make an effort to keep discussion on topic (I will as well), don't want this to turn into a debate of various methods and/or efforts to tell anyone they are thinking or doing something wrong. Thanks and I look forward to posts from those who share my interest, whether you've tried it or just curious!
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Old 06-15-2021, 09:37 PM
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Perhaps there is such little SMART posting on SR is because SMART has their own forum.

I participated in SMART for over 4 years & joined their forums in 2013. Ultimately, it didn’t quite do it for me, but it’s a great program with lots of tools.

Good luck.
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Old 06-18-2021, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by msl999 View Post
Perhaps there is such little SMART posting on SR is because SMART has their own forum.

I participated in SMART for over 4 years & joined their forums in 2013. Ultimately, it didn’t quite do it for me, but it’s a great program with lots of tools.

Good luck.
Thanks, msl. Do you know why SMART didn't do it for you, what was missing or not a good fit, was it about SMART itself or your efforts in using it? Asking because I've had my good share of trying things that didn't work out for me, and often spent too much time and energy with those, like the infamous insanity cycle... doing the same and expecting a different result. Not necessarily wasted interest and effort in terms of learning and figuring out what sorts of approaches are not the most suitable for me, but the drinking and damage just continued, so I can't deem those efforts successful. Sounds like you had spent quite a bit of time with SMART and eventually found a better way, but what was missing from the old one?
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Old 07-26-2021, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Aellyce View Post
Thanks, msl. Do you know why SMART didn't do it for you, what was missing or not a good fit, was it about SMART itself or your efforts in using it? Asking because I've had my good share of trying things that didn't work out for me, and often spent too much time and energy with those, like the infamous insanity cycle... doing the same and expecting a different result. Not necessarily wasted interest and effort in terms of learning and figuring out what sorts of approaches are not the most suitable for me, but the drinking and damage just continued, so I can't deem those efforts successful. Sounds like you had spent quite a bit of time with SMART and eventually found a better way, but what was missing from the old one?
SMART has many tools, but I found (for myself) that they weren’t available when a strong urge would come out of nowhere. Terminally Unique said it best in the first of the 6-pert AVRT thread:
Experience also showed me that to even contemplate the reasons for drinking versus not drinking while having an urge was doomed to failure. Before I was even half-way through my Cost-Benefit Analysis, I would be three-quarters of the way to the liquor store. I was at one point able to do this, but by the end, any "thinking" about why I shouldn't drink would inevitably lead to some ridiculous rationalization for drinking, or at the very least not produce a sufficient reason not to drink which would deter me.
This was my experience as well. I was able to get to 5 months one time, but inevitably those tools did not keep me from drinking. I was continually deciding whether or not to drink. Eventually, I was going to “decide” to have some more of that sweet poison.

AVRT took away the decision. I made my Big Plan over 4 years ago, the decision has already been made. Now, I am able to live my life without worrying about that next relapse hiding around the corner. I am free & it feels great!!!

BTW, did you know that SMART was born out of Rational Recovery?




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Old 07-26-2021, 09:29 PM
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BTW, I don’t know why there is a sad face on my reply.

Darn touch-screen!
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Old Yesterday, 05:20 PM
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I tried SMART recovery. Maybe it was just the group I went to, but it was focused on harm reduction and moderation, not abstinence. I need abstinence. It was a 12 week course, I think. Most people kept enrolling in the next one each time one ended and they found it really useful. I don't even remember what I learned. I couldn't keep going because it was at a time of day that I couldn't take off work when I started working again.
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Old Today, 04:46 AM
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I'm planning to attend my first SMART meeting online, later today. I just slogged through the sign-up process, about half an hour of web-gerbil-wheeling.
Something new! Thanks Aellyce.
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