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Michael Werner is retired, but his work with SMART Recovery in North Carolina keeps him busy. “For 30 years I have been doing small addictions groups, trying in my own small way to make a difference,” he says. In fact, his work on behalf of SMART Recovery has made a profound difference.

Werner has successfully persuaded many of the treatment centers around his community to embrace SMART Recovery. According to Werner, one of the hospitals was previously so dedicated to AA-style recovery, it would remove clients who refused to follow the 12-step recovery model. All that has changed. Today, this hospital has a dual-track program. Werner led a SMART meeting for the public and received positive feedback.

The movement he started in his community continues to grow. “In the last year, I have been asked by several treatment centers across the state to start up a SMART program,” Werner says. “The word is out that SMART is the ‘in-thing’ and they don’t want to be left out.”

Werner refers to the increased demand for SMART programming as a tipping point, and proof that making small and steady changes can create a lasting ripple effect. “It’s the time at which a change or effect cannot be stopped,” he says.

In addition to facilitating meetings, Werner mentors novice facilitators and other volunteers. He has also penned informative articles for SMART Recovery and secular publications. His article titled “Abstinence vs Moderation,” which appears on the SMART Recovery website, offers easily digestible and motivating insights on the benefits of abstaining from addiction rather than attempting moderation.

“When you are ready, say to yourself, ‘I am not going to use again!’ Reinforce that commitment in any way possible and rational. One of the best ways is to remember why you are making the commitment,” Werner writes. “The consequences of using should be remembered, not with a guilty conscience, but in a realistic portrayal of why you have chosen sobriety.”

Werner shows no signs of slowing down in his pursuit of making SMART Recovery a household name and a popular recovery choice for hospitals and facilities. He is thankful for those who share his commitment, and he feels positive about the future of SMART Recovery.

“Congratulations to all who have worked in the trenches all these years to get us to this point,” he says. “Our dream of an effective, empowering, rational, non-religious program for addictions is on its way now, and I can actually see where in another 20 years we will totally dominate the field.”

Thanks to Michael for his tremendous commitment and contributions to SMART Recovery over the years!