How Does SMART Recovery Compare to AA?

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Every individual is unique and so too will be the recovery process from substance abuse and/ or addiction. Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g. abusing drugs and/ or alcohol) without regard for consequence. An individual that struggles with addiction will prioritize satisfying drugs cravings above all else. Habitual and prolonged substance abuse, which occurs with addiction, can adversely affect one’s physical and mental health, as well as negatively impact all other areas of one’s life (e.g. fractured relationships, financial strain, legal complications, difficulty maintaining employment, etc.). The substance abuse and/ or addiction recovery process will require long-term and steadfast commitment. With any mental health disorder, there is no single formula for treatment that is universally successful. Due to the fact that addiction is accurately recognized as a mental health disorder, there are a variety of treatment options and continued aftercare support options available. 

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship, with the self-proclaimed purpose of enabling its members to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. AA has been in existence since 1935, when Bill W. and Dr. Bob created it, in Akron, Ohio. Alcoholics Anonymous is free of charge, and open to anyone; the only requirement for membership is to have a desire to stop drinking. AA is based on a twelve-step program, with each step building upon the previous, which aims for complete abstinences. According to the Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book the lifelong recovery process includes admitting complete powerlessness over addiction, believing in a power greater than oneself, admitting past mistakes, making amends to people that have been harmed through one’s alcoholism and continuing to focus on spiritual path. 

SMART Recovery

SMART is an acronym for Self-Management and Recovery Training. Much like AA, it is a global community of mutual-support groups. The purpose of SMART Recovery, as directly stated by the organization, is for “participants [to] find and develop the power within themselves to change and lead fulfilling and balanced lives guided by our science-based and sensible 4-point program.” SMART Recovery was originally founded in 1992 and was named Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network (ADASHN). The name changed to SMART Recovery in 1994. Unlike AA SMART Recovery is not based on admitting powerlessness nor are members required to believe in a higher power, but rather SMART Recovery employs behavioral and cognitive therapeutic techniques. Though members are free to participate in active recovery as long as they wish, SMART Recovery does not promote recovery as a lifelong process.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.

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