The Department of Health is investing £100,000 in a two year trial of SMART Recovery, a secular support group similar to AA, according to the Guardian yesterday.
SMART Recovery was created by professor Joe Gerstein as an alternative to AA and taking it’s principles from Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy programme which itself was a founding cornerstone of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, much loved by the Department of Health. The programme is thought of as an alternative to AA which considers Alcoholism, an illness, has a spiritual dimension and considers lifelong abstinance essential. SMART Recovery are clear in offering their meetings can also be used as an adjunct to 12 Step ones. In contrast to AA, SMART Recovery has no spiritual dimension, considers it possible to recovery entirely from problems with alcohol and uses only scientifically tested therapy tools which can evolve as new findings are made.
SMART Recovery has a 4 point programme:
- Enhancing and Maintaining Motivation
- Coping with Urges
- Problem Solving
- Lifestyle Balance
All very useful tools for alcoholics.
It’s fantastic that there is an alternative for those who find the religious foundations of 12 Step groups difficult and I really hope this group finds a strong hold in the UK.
In AA there is a saying that all you need to set up a new meeting is a coffee pot and a resentment against another meeting! I can see how this can also apply to entire fellowship approaches so I hope SMART evolves on it’s own merits and doesn’t get drawn into too many comparisons against AA. It should instead evolves as another much needed support tool for alcoholics.