Wednesday, 4 February 2015

SMART Recovery on PEI

I am happy to tell you that Islanders now have options when it comes to recovery programs. Like many others, our son did not care for 12-step meetings like NA. While they have helped millions of people to find recovery, the format was not for him. However, 12-step meetings seemed to be the only option around, leaving people like my son with no outside support system that they could relate to.

While searching for an alternative program, I found SMART Recovery. I thought it sounded great. It is not a 12-step program so Islanders would have a choice.  It would also be a good complement to AA/NA for those who have found recovery there.  It wasn’t offered here on PEI so I took the training with the plan to start a meeting. Here is some additional information on the program:

SMART stands for “Self-Management and Recovery Training”.  


Their 4-Point Program offers tools and techniques for each point:

1. Building and Maintaining Motivation
2. Coping with Urges
3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviours
4. Living a Balanced Life


• Teaches self-empowerment and self-reliance.

• Provides meetings that are educational, supportive and include open discussions.

• Encourages individuals to recover from addiction and alcohol abuse and live satisfying lives.

• Teaches techniques for self-directed change.

• Supports the scientifically informed use of psychological treatments and legally prescribed psychiatric and addiction medication.

• Works on substance abuse, alcohol abuse, addiction and drug abuse as complex maladaptive behaviors with possible physiological factors.

• Evolves as scientific knowledge in addiction recovery evolves.

• Differs from Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other 12-step programs.


SMART Recovery has a scientific foundation, not a spiritual one. The program teaches increasing self-reliance, rather than powerlessness. The meetings are discussion meetings in which individuals talk with one another, rather than to one another. They encourage attendance for months to years, but probably not a lifetime. There are no sponsors in SMART Recovery.  They also discourage use of labels such as "alcoholic" or "addict".

I know many people who have found recovery in the rooms of 12-step meetings. The comparison above is just that - a comparison. It is by no means saying that one type of meeting or method is better than the other. It is only meant to show the differences. You may actually enjoy both types of meetings. In the end, we all want recovery for you. You can decide what's right for you. 

Nicole Publicover, the wonderful youth addictions worker at the Reach Centre, and I are both now trained in SMART Recovery, and we are so pleased to be bringing it to PEI. The first meeting will be held on Monday, February 9th at the Reach Centre, 223 Mason Road in Stratford. We will be offering childcare and transportation from Charlottetown for those who need it. If you need either of these services, please send me an email at to make arrangements.


Here is our recent interview with CBC’s Karen Mair where we discuss the SMART Recovery program: