Things You Need To Know About SMART Recovery Addiction Programs

The world of psychiatry is always evolving to incorporate the every-expanding needs of its patients. As addiction remains a prevalent problem, there are always new ways evolving to treat it.

It seems like every year, there are new things, like new painkillers, benzos, and other drugs to get addicted to. That’s why there need to be more resources.

This is especially true when individuals seem to be treatment-resistant to things like the traditional 12-step program.

That is how “SMART” came about. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training.

It is a new scientific approach that is supposed to tackle addiction, whether it be to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, and so forth.

Unlike a 12-step program, it merely has a 4-point approach that will be extrapolated later in this article.

This paradigm has been proven successful for treatment for those struggling with addiction that has not responded well to other approaches.

For instance, for those who have not been successful with the twelve-step paradigm, this has been particularly helpful.

It is a lot more to the point and helps one with impulse control a lot more. There are specialists trained to help sufferers get out of the dark corners of addiction, such as addiction psychiatrists.

Here is more about the four-point approach.

Introduction to SMART Recovery by Ken Kinter

SMART’s 4-Point Approach vs. the 12-Step Approach

As previously stated, SMART is NOT a twelve-step program.

It was created to help individuals feel more empowered without having to rely on a group as much and to feel more self-reliant, although the group aspect still definitely exists.

It’s just not as lenient on it and exists to share introspection after the person has done much self-reflection on oneself, versus the 12-step approach whereas the individuals are usually on the spot and thinking out loud.

This may not be true for everyone, but this is mostly the case.

There are different principles and tools that professionals employ when applying these points to their patients.

It helps them dive deeper and be more introspective and feel as though the power for change is in their hands rather than in a higher power.

The 4-Point approach is concise, clear, and manageable. Members of SMART are encouraged to share their progress with the 4-Point program with other members.

The four points have to do with impulse control and self-reflection, essentially. They are very precise and easy to follow.

There is no timeline like there is with the twelve-step program. You move at your own pace, unlike that of a cohort.

This differs from the twelve-step program, which has the following tenants.

As you can see, there are a lot of vaguer and socially-based approaches on how to combat addiction with the 12-step program here. This may help if your patient is a religious extrovert.

But what if they aren’t? How will they stay motivated to stay clean and be focused on going to meetings? This is why it isn’t for everyone and we see a high relapse rate.

It isn’t everyone’s style, especially everyone’s social style, especially when many addicts are self-proclaimed loners who aren’t used to sharing their feelings on a weekly or daily basis.

Why SMART’s Approach May Have More Efficacy

According to the Recovery Paradigm, not only does SMART deal with the problems on the surface that addicts deal with, but it deals with associated problems, meaning it dives deeper.

It helps its patients understand WHY they have impulses and if they have any associated mental illnesses that are pulling them to have these compulsions.

By then treating these underlying mental disorders, they are pulled away from this addictive behavior.

Yes, they are still encouraged to be a part of a community, but ultimately it is treated as more of a solo, introspective journey instead of just sharing stories.

This is radically different from other treatment models for struggling addicts and may help in their healing.

The Role of Locus of Control in Healing from SMART’s Treatment

There are essentially two ways you can view the world. Your locus of control is essential if you feel your world and your destiny come from outside of yourself or within yourself.

Different cultures and religions and treatment plans have different locus of control. For instance, when AA or NA says to surrender to a higher power, they are saying they believe in an external locus of control.

SMART is different and essentially follows an inner locus of control. It follows the belief that one’s treatment plan is in one’s hands and that one’s destiny is created by one’s behavior.

This has been suggested as to why it is more successful as well.

If one feels that one’s destiny is in one’s fate and is the result of one’s actions, then they would work a lot harder to “save” oneself instead of waiting to be saved and blame relapses on the “nature of the world” instead of oneself.

They would assume more personal responsibility. Therefore, it is said that the locus of control has contributed to the success of SMART treatment.

You just feel as though the power of your treatment is in your hands and you’re going to make it and be alright as long as you put forth the effort.


Like all treatment plans, SMART is a theory put to action, but we’re seeing some pretty good results.

The evidence shows that patients, especially treatment-resistant patients are responding well to it and that it may stay as a permanent modality of treatment.

If you know of an individual who is struggling with addiction but can’t seem to get under the roots of what’s causing the addiction, perhaps recommend SMART, which they can practice with experts via Zoom through the comfort of their home and see what underlying problems may be causing this clinging to addiction.

Additionally, clinging to an inner locus of control and using the four-point system may create much change in their life. It is certainly worth a shot, as it has already changed thousands of peoples’ lives.