Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Program for Addiction Recovery Part 2: Volunteering

SMART Recovery is a mental health and educational program for addiction recovery focused on changing the behavior of the addicted person towards long-term recovery.

The success of SMART Recovery depends on the support of a large network of dedicated volunteers teaching and advocating about the program around the world.

How SMART Volunteers Help

The meeting format for SMART recovery program is straightforward and organized. Volunteer facilitators are trained to follow the SMART Recovery program and principles to help participants change their behavior.  SMART Recovery meetings are serious but often fun. The focus of the discussions is on applying SMART’s tools for change so that the participants can go on to lead a more productive and connected life.

SMART volunteers carry out a number of roles. These include being a committee member, board member, online or in-person facilitator.  Volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds. They could be professionals in the addiction treatment field, family, and friends of someone undergoing addiction treatment, or even individuals who are in their own long term recovery. The common thread for all the volunteers is their strong desire to help others along their journey towards full recovery from addiction.

Local Volunteering

Local SMART Recovery Facilitators paly an important role by being a critical resource for people in their communities seeking relief from their addictive behaviors. The volunteers usually play the role of an ambassador or advocate by providing information about local medical facilities, courts, and community.

Online Volunteering

More than 1,000 people sign up every month for SMART program’s online activities. Experienced volunteers play an important role using the program tools to help the individuals to learn to address the issues around the underlying issues that might have led them towards addiction as a coping mechanism.

Volunteer Trainings & Options

There are several training program courses and options that the potential volunteer can select based on the specific volunteer role they would like to take on. Examples include:

Meeting Host Training – This option gives training to conduct a meaningful SMART Recovery meeting. The volunteer provides the location to host a meeting and the program will provide the meeting outline, structure, and the topics for discussions.

Facilitator Training – This training is aimed to provide the volunteer with a comprehensive review of the SMART Recovery 4-Point Program, the SMART Recovery tools, and a lot of guidance. It is their most popular training course.

Family & Friends Training – This is an “add-on” to the Facilitator training. This additional training is designed for those volunteers who would like to organize a support group for those having a loved one with addictive behavior.

Facilitator/Family & Friends Training – This is essentially a “combo” package putting together the core Facilitator Training with the add on Family & Friends Training as a single training course option.

SMART Recovery for Professionals – This is more specialized training. It is designed for licensed health care professionals who wish to use SMART Recovery’s self-empowering, evidence-based 4-Point Program®, and Tools in their professional role and with their patients.

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Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Program Part 1: To Achieve Independence From Addiction Problems

Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery) is a not-for-profit organization for people with addiction related problems.

The program organizes free self-empowering help and support sessions focusing on approaches and methods to help people reform their life from an unhappy self-destructive one to a constructive and satisfying one.

Being sensitive to the population it serves, SMART Recovery does not use labels like “alcoholic” or “addict”. They use scientifically proven ways developed to create an atmosphere of change and to develop a more positive lifestyle.

After someone joins the program and becomes familiar with SMART and are free of any addictive behavior, they are encouraged to be a volunteer as a way of giving back. This also helps the program to expand, reach more people and help tackle the ramping addiction problem in our society.

There are 4 key areas in the SMART recovery program. These are:

Motives and Goals

The main premise of the intervention is built on the fact that motivation is a key element in all most all that a person does in life. This is because every human being has a number of primary goals including survival, avoidance of pain, and being happy. It has been proven that all addictive behaviors motivate a person as a way to pursue these primary goals. The support given by SMART helps their clients to recognize that their addictive habits might be meeting these goals in the short-term but they are impairing their ability to meet them in the long-term.


The program also understands that what a person you believes in is important, and there are many beliefs to choose from, especially as it relates to addiction. For instance, some think they are powerless, or that after the first drink they lose all control and can’t stop on their own. These beliefs can really be causing damage in the thinking process. Other examples of incorrect beliefs include, “Because I’ve tried to quit and failed, I’m no good or “I’ve tried and failed, so I can’t do it. I need alcohol to cope.” These and other similar beliefs are not valid because the scientific evidence doesn’t corroborate them. It is important to examine, identify, and revise these inaccurate beliefs about oneself inside the mind before change can happen on the outside.


It is a well-known fact that often people resort to addictive behaviors as a means to handle their emotional issues, including anxiety, guilt, anger, and low self-esteem. SMART Recovery program helps to learn the approaches to reduce these emotional disturbances and to build self-acceptance. This in turn will create greater motivation and the ability to change and to control the urge to use the addictive substances as a short term fix to problems.


SMART program also recognizes that just making changes in thinking and emotions are not sufficient.  Commitment and follow-through are critical for the change to be long term and sustainable. Participants are encouraged to get involved in activities that are enjoyable to the individual and replace them with their problematic addictive behaviors.

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