S.M.A.R.T. Recovery in a Nutshell by Vince Fox
Originally posted Nov. 11, 2003
S.M.A.R.T. RECOVERY IN A NUTSHELL
By Vince Fox:
The SMART in SMART RECOVERY stands for Self-Management and Recovery
Training. Let’s understand recovery not in the sense of recuperating from
a sickness or a disease, but as a change of behavior from one that is self
and other destructive to one that is self and other preserving. You can do
this in five steps.
1) Deal with the past, learn from it, and realize that early determinants
on child behavior can be only influences on adult behavior.
2) For those who have had experience with the 12-step program: If you have
decided to leave it, do so without anger or resentment. You didn’t fail the
program. It was just unsuited to your needs. After all, 50 percent of all
who enter AA, leave it within 90 days, and 95 of 100 leave it within a year
(Comments, A Review of Triennial Surveys, published by AA in 1990).
3) Get rid of dated and inaccurate misinformation about addictive
behaviors. Examples: You are powerless. If you have one drink, you can’t
possibly stop, and you are diseased. Just use common sense on these.
4) Acquire current and accurate information about addictive behaviors and
5) Practice what you have learned, then graduate from SMART Recovery and
get about the business of enjoying life for a change, not recover-ing, but
Let’s get practical. How can I do it? Do it in three steps.
FIRST: Know that you can do it yourself, very often without the help of
group psychotherapy or private therapy. Most of us can’t afford them
anyway. A lot of modern therapy is a carry-over from Freud who was obsessed
with past events in life. He has been largely discounted. He was something
of a nut anyway.
*Many people come to SR resentful or angry about their experiences with AA
or NA. We tell them that the real problem is not with AA or NA, but with
their reaction to expectations that had not been fulfilled in those
organizations. We point out that AA or NA was simply unsuited to their
needs, just as it is well suited to the needs of others. We encourage such
people to express themselves, to let off steam (emotional catharsis), to
rid themselves of the negative stuff as soon as possible, and to redirect
wasted energy in a positive direction.
SECOND: Those who participate in SR soon discover that they know little
about addiction, but have been lead to believe much. Smart Recovery
presents its educational and mental health program. Rational Emotive
Behavior Therapy (REBT)-self-applied-comes into play. It’s a great
problem-solving way to handle life. It’s all about surviving and being
happy. We apply its principles and techniques to actual problems,
especially those which pertain to drinking, using, lapse, and relapse.
We graduate, not recover-ing, but recovered, and ready to get on with the
business of enjoying life and carrying out our responsibilities to
ourselves and others. With the ridiculous “disease**” notion out of the
way, it’s clear that complete recovery (change) is attainable and
achievable. Once that’s done, there’s no point in going to meetings for the
rest of your life. You’ve got better things to do.
THIRD: We recognize the often positive significance of spiritual and
religious values as functional realities. They often can and do affect the
recovery process in a positive way.
It took years to acquire your habits and way life. It can take a year, if
you work at it, to change all that. Your decision, your life.
(c)V. Fox, 1996
*Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939. His biggest contribution was the idea that
physical problems can have non-physical causes. Also, he made sex a fun
subject at the dinner table. His work is associated with the subconscious,
repression, neuroses, psychoses, repression, association, hysteria,
anxiety, dreams and so on.
**It’s like this: smoking is to cancer as excessive drinking is to
cirrhosis. Smoking and drinking are things we do (behaviors), cancer and
cirrhosis are effects, the results of behaviors. Bill Wilson mentioned
“disease” once (p. 64) in his Big Book; he called it a “spiritual disease.”