by Roxanne Allen, with SMART Recovery, speaker at RRNA’s Topical Evening: Addiction, on February 18th, 2014
New Options for Addiction Recovery
In the 1730s Native Americans organized the first abstinence-based recovery circles. Since that time, a variety of groups have come and gone, but the efficacy of self-help meetings for addiction recovery has been well researched and proven to be effective in many ways.
In the 20th century the most well known mutual support groups were based on the 12-step model, the most widely available of these being Alcoholics Anonymous. For many years, the 12-step model was an integral part of the treatment program for many of those who sought professional assistance to help them quit an addiction. Over time, the public grew to perceive that regular attendance and participation in 12-step meetings was a requirement of recovery. However, as addiction research has progressed, we now know that there is not one program that is helpful for everyone. People are different and have different needs. For example, many people do better with a model that does not involve a spiritual component; many people do better with a self-empowering approach. We also know that people seeking recovery from addiction have a better outcome when they are able to make informed choices about the mutual support groups they attend.
Many paths to recovery
There are a number of support groups and alternatives to 12-step recovery that stand ready to help people overcome their addiction to substances and behaviors. Each program has merit, and the best outcome occurs when an individual selects a program that best matches their needs and beliefs. (Note: some people find that a combination of programs is more helpful to them than a single program.)
SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) is the leading self-empowering addiction support group. SMART participants learn tools for recovery based on the latest scientific research.
SMART provides a 4-Point Program:1. Building and Maintaining Motivation; 2. Coping with Urges; 3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors; and 4. Living a Balanced life. Tools include Stages of Change, Change Plan Worksheet, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Hierarchy of Values, ABCs of REBT for Urge Coping and Emotional Upsets, DISARM (Destructive Imagery and Self-talk Awareness & Refusal Method), Role-playing and Rehearsing , Brainstorming, and more. Tools can be found on their website.
“New Life” Acceptance Program includes thirteen statements to aid those participating in the program, and can be found on their website.
SOS takes a self-empowerment approach to recovery, and addresses sobriety (abstinence) as “Priority One, no matter what!” The program credits the individual for achieving and maintaining his/her own sobriety, and respects recovery in any form. There are six suggested guidelines for sobriety, including “Sobriety is our priority”, and “We are each responsible for our lives and our sobriety”. The others can be found on their website.
LifeRing offers sober, secular self-help to abstain from alcohol and non-medically-indicated drugs by “relying on our own power and the support of others”. The program operates according to the “3S” Philosophy: 1. Sobriety, 2. Secularity, 3. Self-Help. Meetings are friendly, confidential, non-judgmental gatherings of peers, and the atmosphere is relaxed, practical and positive.
Moderation Management (MM) offers education, behavioral change techniques and peer support for problem drinkers seeking to decrease their drinking — whether to moderate levels or to total abstinence. MM offers a variety of behavioral methods for change, guidelines for responsible drinking, and tools to measure progress. The program follows 9 Steps Toward Moderation and Positive Lifestyle Changes which can be found on their website.
While these programs may not be as widely available geographically as the 12-step programs, they are available to anyone with an internet connection. Each program offers online services in addition to face-to-face meetings.
Addiction can create huge health, legal and personal problems for those afflicted. The good news is that there are many pathways to recovery, many options available, and each individual deserves to find what works best for them.