SMART Recovery – Peer Support Without Religion

SMART Recovery is a way to get peer support without religion while learning what motivates you to use the substance you are addicted to and ways to change your behavior.

What are peer support groups

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What Are Peer Support Groups?

Achieving recovery over an addiction of any kind is no small feat. You saved your life and took steps toward a future of your making. However, recovery is not a journey you make alone. You require a support system walking with you and on-call, ready to guide you or lift you when needed.

Research has proven that peer support is essential to favorable addiction treatment and recovery outcomes. Peer support is available in several forms. A type of peer support that is gaining popularity is SMART Recovery.

Individuals with shared experiences (i.e., addiction recovery) comprise peer support groups who meet to support one another. These individuals are peers because of the shared experience. There are peer support groups for mental health concerns, suicide survivors, and addiction recovery.

Most Common Peer Support Groups

Following are examples of popular peer support groups that most people know. While most are for people who have addictions, some are for families of individuals addicted to substances. Individuals often participate in these peer groups:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)

  • Heroin Anonymous (HA)

  • Al-anon/Alateen

Anything you can have an addiction to, there is a peer support group for it. Support groups have rules on who can attend (i.e., men, women, or both), interaction, and donations. Guest speakers or leads are a monthly feature of these groups.

What are the Benefits of a Peer Support Group?

Most individuals in recovery expect to participate in a peer support group during addiction treatment and recovery. Support groups do generally offer more benefits than drawbacks. Understanding the following primary benefits will help you find the group that is right for you:

Provides Structure

Joining support groups give structure to your healing. For example, attending AA meetings fills up your calendar if you participate in one every day for 90 days following treatment like many people do during recovery. 

Permits Emotional Connections

You get to connect with others in recovery. It is beneficial to meet people who have traveled the same path as you, but for longer. Meeting someone sober for 25 or 45 years is inspiring. A feeling of hope grows in you. If they can make it, then you can too.

Holds One Accountable

Peers are on the same recovery path, so expectations are similar. Everyone is equal, so each is held accountable by the others. No excuses are accepted. Your peers will call you out on perceived lies you tell others and yourself. Do not expect to get by with anything when among your peers.

By participating in support groups, you cannot hide away and pretend to be in recovery when you are not sober. You have higher accountability to maintain your sobriety when you attend support groups regularly where your peers see you.

Why Some Do Not Prefer AA Meetings

Not everyone in the addiction recovery community enjoys attending AA meetings to support their sobriety. Some people dislike the lack of participation. The reading of the 12 traditions at some meetings can be a turn-off for others.

A crucial component of any 12-Steps program such as AA is acknowledging the existence of a “Higher Power.” For some people in recovery, it is essential to separate religion and their sobriety. They may or may not deal with faith in their way and on their time. However, it has no role in their support groups.

An alternative for 12-Step programs is SMART Recovery, a peer support model without religion.

What is SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. It is a peer support group model that does not focus on your past but instead looks at your future and how you can make it the best for you and your family. SMART Recovery is a behavioral-change model based on their 4-Point Program® which includes:1

SMART Recovery personalizes recovery for every individual who seeks assistance on his or her path to recovery. It is an alternative or additional option that anyone can use to replace or in conjunction with 12-step programs and other groups that promote self-empowerment.

Addiction that SMART Recovery Helps

SMART Recovery meetings help people deal with various addictions. You will find that SMART Recovery meetings exist for each addiction. Following are examples of addictions addressed successfully through this model of change:

Alcohol Abuse

Typically considered the most common form of substance abuse, alcohol abuse affects nearly 10% of the United States’ adult population.2 SMART Recovery can help individuals end alcohol abuse by identifying reasons to quit drinking and learning tools to problem-solve better challenges they face along their path to recovery.

Marijuana Abuse

Too many users and nonusers believe marijuana is not addictive. The truth is that, according to the definition of addiction, it is an addictive substance. Addiction occurs when someone compulsively seeks a substance and continues to use it after it negatively impacted their lives. Nearly 30% of marijuana users have a marijuana use disorder.3

Prescription Drug Abuse

Abuse of prescribed medications involves taking more than prescribed or buying it from someone who has a prescription so you can use the substance to get high. Opioids, sleep aids, and stimulants are the most abused prescription medications. Data shows 6.6% (16 million) of adults in the United States used prescribed stimulants the prior year.4 Of this group, 2.1% (5 million) misused the stimulants, and 0.2% (0.4 million) developed prescription use disorders. 4

Heroin Abuse

Due to the introduction of fentanyl, using heroin is like playing Russian roulette. You have an increased likelihood of overdose or death. Heroin, processed using morphine, is highly addictive. With 100 times the power of morphine, heroin mixed with fentanyl is extremely dangerous.5 Heroin is highly addictive; however, SMART Recovery helps people with this addiction.

Other Addictions

SMART Recovery also is helpful for other addictions, including gambling and sex addictions. It also helps people with eating disorders and those who want to stop smoking. Nicotine use is one of the hardest addictions to get over. If you are dealing with an addiction not mentioned, you can contact the nearest SMART Recovery group near you, even if it is a SMART Recovery online meeting, to see how they might help you. Do not give up; your life and wellbeing are important.

Finding a SMART Recovery Near Me

SMART Recovery meetings are available in different formats. Finding nearby meetings is easy once you have the correct information. It is well worth your time to begin searching as soon as possible to find a SMART Recovery group nearby. Following is information you can use to find the group best for you:

Through Their Official Website

You can search for meeting sites near you using the search tool on the official SMART Recovery website. Select the state you reside in, and a list of SMART Recovery locations will pop up. Scroll until you find one near you. If there is no meeting near you that you can attend in person, you can participate in the group nearest you via online meetings.6

Through a Clinic

For individuals in treatment for addiction, you can ask about support groups, including SMART Recovery for your aftercare. If you are without internet access during your time in treatment, your treatment team can get you the information. Ask them about “SMART Recovery near me,” and they will look it up for you.

SMART Recovery In-Person Meetings

Many people will only attend SMART Recovery meetings in person. They may not have the resources for SMART Recovery online, or they may not be tech-savvy or feel uncomfortable trying to use technology.

SMART Recovery Online Meetings

Not everyone will be able to find in-person SMART Recovery meetings nearby. Fortunately, there are SMART Recovery online meetings you can join that provide the support you need. The search tool described above can help you find these meetings. You can participate in more than one group and have multiple meetings in a week if you prefer.

SMART Recovery is one more tool in your arsenal to fight addiction. If you are looking for one that does not include a religious component, you found it. You also have one that focuses on your future and helps you understand your motivations to abuse substances while equally assisting you to change your thinking and behavior. SMART Recovery is about your recovery, your future, and your life.



If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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