Getting smart with SMART Recovery in Edmonton, Alberta

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SMART Recovery Programs in Edmonton

Let me tell you a secret. Sobriety is a life skill. You learn it and then perfect it through practice. I know that may sound different from what you heard and read. As a licensed therapist, I’ve helped hundreds of addicts manage their recovery through therapy, twelve-step programs, and the SMART Recovery program. They’ll all tell you that getting sober is easy. Staying sober means changing your lifestyle.

SMART Recovery, which stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training, is a science-based addiction recovery program that uses proven cognitive and behavioral therapies and a flexible four-point program to treat all types of addiction.

In other words, SMART Recovery teaches you how to get sober and stay sober.

What’s the difference between SMART Recovery and twelve-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous and AA Meetings?

AA meetings are run by addicts for addicts. The group is very structured. All meetings begin the same way. They assign you a sponsor, who is typically someone further along in their recovery then you are, and strongly recommend that you read The Big Book.

When you speak in an AA meeting, the spotlight is on you because you are addressing the group. The sessions are also very social. To some people, AA meetings are like happy hour without the alcohol. This holds true for most twelve-step programs.

SMART Recovery meetings are run by trained volunteers, who are licensed psychiatrists, therapists, and addiction counselors. SMART meetings aren’t as structured as twelve-step meetings. Instead of speaking to the group, you join a group discussion moderated by a therapist. There are no sponsors, no social hours, and the optional handbook is only 94 pages long.

Don’t worry. SMART Recovery, AA, and NA are all anonymous.

Can I still attend twelve-step meetings if I use the SMART Recovery program?

Yes! I always encourage you to find what works best for you. For some people, that means attending both NA and SMART Recovery meetings. Others try both and find that only one suits their personality. Sometimes, none of the programs click, which leaves private therapy as the best option. Remember, addiction therapy and recovery is not one size fits all.

What types of addiction does SMART Recovery treat?

All types. Whether it’s alcohol, porn, cocaine, sex, or even shopping, SMART Recovery will teach you the tools that you need to cope, manage, and recover from your addiction.

What is the four-point system?

If you’re coming from a twelve-step program, SMART Recovery’s four-point system will feel weird. There is no set order. You will learn techniques associated with each point as you progress through the program and as you need them.

Building and Maintaining Motivation

Why do you want to get sober? What are your priorities now and in the future? How will the sober lifestyle impact these priorities? What are the pros and cons of staying sober? In our Edmonton SMART Recovery meetings, we talk about these questions and many more. With the SMART Recovery program, sobriety requires self-empowerment. That takes self-motivation.

Coping with Urges

What’s your trigger? Does a bad day at the office make you crave booze? After a fight with your significant other, do you need retail therapy or even drugs? SMART Recovery helps you identify your triggers. This is important because cravings are controllable.

Now, if you’re pregnant and you’re craving pickles and ice cream, that’s hormones, not a controllable craving. However, most cravings are within your control once you’ve identified your triggers. During our regular meetings at our Edmonton office, you’ll learn how to control your cravings.

Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

Why do you use? Are there psychological reasons like untreated depression that help drive your addiction? For example, people with depression sometimes self medicate with drugs and alcohol. By addressing any mental health disorders, you will increase your odds of success.

Twelve-step programs sometimes overlook this because the meetings often aren’t run by a trained counselor. Some groups even stigmatize treating mental health disorders with proven drug therapies. If you stumble across one of these groups, please leave. Give me a call, and I’ll help you find a better one here in the Edmonton Metropolitan area.

Living a Balanced life

Sobriety is a lifestyle change. It’s like reducing your salt intake, exercising regularly, and all the other healthy lifestyle habits that you’ve acquired. None of them are easy. Some are harder than others.

Sobriety isn’t easy, but you can learn by acquiring the tools that you need to change your life one minute at a time. It starts with goals.

What are your goals? How do you plan to achieve them? How important are they to you? Which one is most important?

Goals are one of the many steps towards self-empowerment.

Let’s take back control of your life.


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