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Principles & Positions

Recovery Through Self-Empowerment: Our mission is to help participants gain independence from any problematic addictive behavior. We believe that individuals seeking change should be fully informed about the range of options available and free to choose among them. We encourage participants to take responsibility for their own change. Our meetings support their capacity to regulate their own behavior.

Mutual Help: As participants progress, their focus can shift to enjoying the activities of a healthy, fulfilling, and productive life, including the satisfaction of assisting new participants in SMART Recovery.

Volunteer Management: SMART Recovery is operated almost entirely by volunteers, including the Board of Directors and meeting facilitators. Facilitators may have had addictive problems, or individuals without addictive problems who learned to lead SMART meetings as a service to their communities.

Acceptance: SMART Recovery participants are welcome to discuss addictive behavior with any substance or activity. SMART Recovery encourages participation by persons of any race, color, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We do not tolerate harassment of any kind in our meetings.

Participant Support: Our meetings and online services are offered free of charge. Donations are requested. We are funded primarily through training fees, literature sales, and personal contributions. We accept funding from other sources provided that receiving such funds does not interfere with our purpose and mission.

Evidence-Based Practice: SMART Recovery uses evidence-based methods, including cognitive-behavioral, non-confrontational motivational enhancement, and other methods. Our meetings focus on the application of these methods, as guided by our 4-Point Program®: 1) Building and Maintaining Motivation, 2) Coping with Urges, 3) Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors; and 4) Living a Balanced Life. The methods used in SMART Recovery evolve as scientific knowledge evolves.

Collaboration: Some participants may choose to augment their SMART Recovery experience with professional therapy, medications, or other mutual help groups. Treatment professionals may volunteer to facilitate meetings in their community or at their facility. When doing so, they switch from “therapist” to “facilitator.” Professionals are encouraged to incorporate SMART Recovery principles and tools into their work.

International Presence: SMART Recovery is an international organization. We support local volunteers so that our meetings can be available in every country. We support national health services and professionals so that SMART Recovery International oversees our global operations.

 

Position Statements

SMART Recovery vs. 12-Step Programs

At SMART, we believe that each individual finds her or his own path for change. For some, that path may include 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). While the SMART approach differs in some ways from AA and NA, it does not exclude them. Some SMART participants also choose to attend AA or NA meetings.

Use of Medications to Treat Addictions and Mental Health

SMART Recovery supports the scientifically informed use of psychological treatment and legally prescribed psychiatric and addiction medication.

Religion and Spirituality

We believe that the power to change addictive behaviors resides within each individual and does not depend upon adherence to any spiritual viewpoint. The use of religious or spiritual beliefs and practices in recovery is a personal choice and not a part of our program.

Addiction as a Disease

SMART Recovery tools can help you regardless of whether or not you believe addiction is a disease.

Meeting Verifications

SMART Recovery is an independent organization and is not affiliated with any governmental agency, court, corrections facility, or treatment program. Facilitators, at their discretion, will provide attendance verification at the request of individuals following their participation in SMART meetings; however, SMART Recovery keeps no permanent record of participant names or meeting attendance. Consistent with the practices of other addiction mutual help groups, this verification provides acknowledgment of meeting attendance and is not indicative of the depth of engagement in the meeting.

Policy on Socializing within SMART Recovery

For many people, an important part of a successful recovery program is building or rebuilding healthy social networks. Meeting other like-minded, supportive participants, and volunteers through SMART Recovery can be an additional benefit from the program. SMART seeks to provide comfortable social environments at our meetings and online community. We encourage you to build relationships with other people, including those you meet through SMART. Please remember that SMART is not responsible for the environment outside of its meetings and online activities.

The Code of Conduct for SMART Recovery Volunteers

Although the following principles and behavioral guidelines for ethical conduct by SMART Recovery volunteers may seem obvious, we state them here to reflect without any doubt what is expected. We have deep and abiding trust in those who have done so much for SMART Recovery. We have put these principles and guidelines in writing so that any reader can see the level of ethics and efficacy that is expected and found in our volunteers.

 

Principles of being a SMART Recovery Volunteer:

  • Promote Independence from Addictive Behavior: We promote gaining independence from addictive behavior based on the principles and concepts of SMART Recovery.
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  • Serve as a Commulty Resource: We make SMART Recovery available to our local neighborhoods and serve as a resource for our communities.
  • Respect the Dignity and Worth of the Person: We strive to treat each meeting participant with care and respect, mindful of individual differences, and cultural and ethnic diversity.
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  • Act with Integrity: We strive to act honestly and responsibly and to conduct ourselves in a manner consonant with the goals and principles of SMART Recovery.

 

Behavioral Guidelines

Honor our Commitments: In our capacity as Facilitators, we are responsible for conducting meetings consistent with the principles and concepts of SMART Recovery. This includes striving to maintain focused discussions and to balance opportunities for individual participation with the needs of the group. We will endeavor to hold all meetings as scheduled. In other volunteer roles, we take our commitments seriously, understanding our roles are critical in support of the overall functions of the SMART Recovery organization.

Support Self-Determination of Participants: We respect and promote the right of participants to socially responsible self-determination and assist them in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals regarding addictive behavior within the context of SMART Recovery. Where a participant’s goals are outside the scope of SMART Recovery, we can encourage them to seek more appropriate options for assistance.

Pursue Knowledge and Competence: All volunteers are expected to learn about the concepts of SMART Recovery. Facilitators apply these concepts in meetings and function as leaders within a peer-group, self-help setting to help foster a group process that encourages learning and development in gaining and maintaining independence from addictive behaviors.

Support Social Diversity: We strive to actively understand and respect issues of social diversity, including race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital/partner status, political belief, religion, and mental or physical ability.

Protect Confidentiality: We respect and promote confidentiality and the participants’ right to privacy at all times, both in and out of meetings, including all verbal, written, and electronic communications. A Volunteer should not solicit or disclose private information about a participant that is unrelated to the focus of SMART Recovery, or that may put a participant at risk. If a participant appears to be at risk of imminent harm to self or others, a Volunteer may contact the local SMART Recovery Volunteer Advisor, the local crisis intervention agency, or the local police/medical/mental health authority. If required by local law, we may be required to report to local authorities regarding disclosures relating to child or elder abuse.

Avoid Conflicts of Interest: Under no circumstances should we exploit a participant relationship or meeting to further personal, religious, political, or business interests. We should strive to be alert to and avoid conflicts of interest.

Avoid Engaging in Harassment: Under no circumstances should we engage in any form of verbal, emotional, or physical harassment. Under no circumstances should we seek to exploit a participant relationship for sexual activity or engage in sexual harassment of participants, including sexual advances, sexual solicitations, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Work Together: We strive to work cooperatively with other members of the SMART Recovery organization. We strive to acknowledge the positive contributions of other programs aimed at gaining independence from addictive behavior.

Provide Accurate Representation: We make clear distinctions between statements made as a private individual and those made as representatives of SMART Recovery. We represent ourselves as knowledgeable only within the scope of our experience.

Seek Solutions: In the event that a Volunteer or Volunteer Advisor has an ethical lapse or an addictive behavior relapse, appropriate members of the SMART Recovery organization will be contacted to determine an appropriate course of action.

 

SMART Recovery Policy on Facilitator Slips and Relapses

There is no firm policy about how to respond to slips and relapses. Facilitators who experience a slip or relapse are asked to contact your Regional Coordinator, local Volunteer Advisor, and/or the Central Office. The general guideline is that we desire facilitators without active addiction problems. If they are in recovery, that means we want them to be abstinent from their drug of choice. If they have never needed recovery, then we also want them not to misuse substances or engage in addictive activities. Slips and relapses are handled on a situation-by-situation basis. Situations can vary greatly. The three areas of concern are 1. the meeting and its participants, 2. the facilitator, and 3. responding in a balanced manner to be responsible and maintain the integrity of SMART Recovery. (See the President’s Letter in the Fall 2012 News & Views for a longer article on this subject.)