SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is a 4-point program to help individuals in recovery learn internal motivation and coping mechanisms.
The first point of SMART Recovery asks patients to channel to understand what drives their motivation to stay sober. When patients are able to clearly define why they want to remain sober, it becomes easier to remember and maintain throughout the recovery process.
A few questions to ask yourself when you are struggling with motivation include:
During the second point of SMART Recovery, patients learn ways to cope with the urges and cravings that occur during the recovery process. One of the first things to do to help cope with cravings is to accept them. Everyone going through drug and alcohol treatment will experience urges. However, if patients can learn to control these urges and look for the underlying patterns that lead to them, it can help them to better manage these moments in the future.
One of the methods that patients can use to deal with their urges is to use the DEADS approach:
D - Delay
Generally, when faced with an urge or craving, it will run its course in about 10 or 15 minutes and disappear. However, the urge may last longer if you are still being exposed to the stimulus. Not giving in is key and the good thing about this is that once you have done it once, you know you can do it time and time again.
E - Escape
Sometimes the best method to get out of a tricky situation is to do just that, get out. If you are in an environment where you are being exposed to stimulus that may be causing urges, it may be best to leave the situation entirely, freeing your mind up to focus on something else.
A - Accept
Understanding that urges will occur is key to getting over them. Everyone will struggle from this but knowing that these cravings will dissipate quickly will help you deal with them.
D - Dispute
One of the best things you can do if a craving creeps up is to remember the times that you’ve been successful in overcoming urges before and to dispute the belief that using again will be ok. Recall why you entered treatment in the first place.
S - Substitute
Sometimes the best way to get rid of the urge is to occupy your mind with a different activity or thought trail. Doing something like exercising, socializing, or watching a movie can help take your mind off the craving as it passes.
Point three in SMART Recovery is finding rational ways to manage thoughts and feelings that are related to addictive behaviors. During this step, patients are exposed to the irrational thought patterns that lead to substance use. Patients will learn how to increase tolerance for stress and frustration which, in turn, will allow them to manage their emotions properly.
The fourth point in the SMART Recovery program is to establish a healthy and balanced life. Creating balance and structure is especially important during the first stages of the recovery process and it is important to create a routine that incorporates coping skills, community connections, and a relapse prevention plan.