A record-breaking crowd of addiction professionals, volunteers, participants and staff gathered in Tempe, AZ for the 2018 SMART Recovery Conference, representative of the near-25-year old SMART Recovery organization that has grown to 3,000 meetings around the world since its inception in 1994.

The conference kicked off with an impressive and captivating welcome message from Board of Directors President Dr. Joe Gerstein, sharing some of the organization’s most impressive stats both nationally and internationally.

Gerstein’s message followed a theme borrowed from Charles’ Dickens’ opening salvo inA Tale of Two Cities,“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

The best of times spoke to an exhaustive list of accomplishments that SMART Recovery has been accumulating in the ways of meeting growth, scientific research, medical acknowledgement, and educational efforts in Washington.

A few of Gerstein’s highlights included:

  • SMART Recovery is mentioned three times in the Surgeon General’s landmark report Facing Addiction in America.
  • SMART Recovery has been endorsed by just about every prestigious agency and entity in the addiction recovery arena … such as NIDA, NIAAA, NADCP, SAMHSA, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the UK’s preeminent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence or NICE and the Australian Commission for Healthcare Quality & Research.
  • Our meeting number is now over 3,000 – up from as few as 600 just eight years ago. We have a long way yet to go, but this is not a trivial accomplishment.
  • Our reach is worldwide. The SMART flag is flying in 23 countries – from Australia to Namibia, Africa, to Vietnam.

The worst of times spoke to the growing addiction epidemic troubling the country and world. With addiction killing 300 people daily, the need to reach more people touched by addiction grows stronger every day. Gerstein’s passionate opening remarks strongly illustrated SMART Recovery’s dedication to battling this epidemic.

Following the opening speech, the conference’s keynote was given by Robert J. Meyers, Ph.D., creator of the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training Program), which SMART uses as the basis for its Family & Friends program. The CRAFT program emphasizes the importance of self-care and teaches loving and nonjudgmental ways to help loved ones seek treatment.

SMART has been focused on growing this program in recent years. At the time of the conference, nearly 200 people had participated in the SMART Recovery Family & Friends training program in 2018.

Click here to learn more about CRAFT and SMART Recovery’s Family & Friends program.

The conference continued with stories of SMART Recovery successes, being told by local SMART groups and facilitators, as well as individuals sharing their personal recovery stories and the role that SMART has played in changing their lives. Breakout sessions also provided facilitators and volunteers the ability to connect with others and learn new skills to take back to their local meetings.

Proudly, representatives of SMART’s executive team and Board of Directors shared news about the growth of SMART Recovery International (SRI). In attendance was SMART Recovery International Chairperson Nadene Lee who shared with attendees the vision and expansion plans for SRI. The conference served as an opportunity for SRI’s Board of Directors to meet in-person and hold a strategic planning session for the new organization.

The conference wrapped with the presentation of The Joseph Gerstein Award for Exemplary Service to SMART Recovery being presented to former executive director Shari Allwood.

This award was created to recognize an individual who has given and made significant, consistent, and durable contributions to the SMART Recovery program over a period of years. This award is to acknowledge accomplishments, contributions, innovation, participation, generosity, as well as other attributes.

Allwood, who served in that role for 23+ years, helped SMART reach more than 2,500 meetings worldwide, was instrumental in the formation of SMART Recovery International, actively led the organization through its current strategic plan to help guide SMART Recovery in the five-years ahead, saw the launch of the new SMART website, as well as many, many other contributions. Her impact on SMART Recovery over its formative years is insurmountable, and we humbly thank her for her service through the years.


Conference Presentations, Videos and Photos

We are currently working to make the presentations and videos available for download through our website. Please stay tuned for updates.

Please scroll to the bottom of this page to view photos from this year’s conference.


2019 SMART Recovery Conference Details

The 2019 SMART Recovery Conference, which will also serve as a celebration of SMART Recovery’s 25thanniversary, will be held on the weekend of September 20-22, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. More details will be coming soon! We expect this conference to be our biggest and best yet. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us.


About SMART Recovery USA

SMART Recovery’s 4-Point Program® helps people recover from all types of addictive behaviors, including: alcohol addiction, drug abuse, substance abuse, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, and addiction to other substances and activities.

SMART Recovery offers face-to-face meetings around the world, and daily online meetings. In addition, our online message board and 24/7 chat room provide forums to learn about SMART Recovery and obtain addiction recovery support.

For more information, please visit www.smartrecovery.org.


Conference Photos

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