*I will start with saying I am probably biased toward the traditional 12 step version of recovery, but I am going to try and be objective as possible about my experience. This post will focus mainly on SMART. I’ve only attended one meeting and I truly believe that you can’t form a true opinion until you have done at least 5 meetings so I do plan on going back. Also other meetings may vary from my experience.

The group leader opens by explaining what SMART is. This is then followed by a check in where you introduce yourself (no qualifiers like addict or alcoholic) and how your week was. Today we chose to work out of the workbook from page 18. Workbooks are provided free of cost. We spent 10 minutes filling out the questions, then spent the remaining 90 minutes going around the room with each person sharing their answers. We did not get to the open discussion.


  • having the workbook was nice to have and work out of.
  • meeting was focused on one topic with everyone sharing on the same questions.
  • free coffee
  • open to everyone
  • people want to be there


  • program is set up so a person can graduate and is not meant to be a long term thing. This gives the impression that you can be cured or that once you finish you can control using.
  • doesn’t provide much fellowship or support during non meeting times.
  • does not follow the disease model.
  • does not have spiritual aspect.

I thought it was an interesting meeting and will go back. I think it’s a great compliment to a 12 step program, but alone isn’t comprehensive enough. It allows you to identify issues and work on them in a controlled manner, but didn’t seem to focus on not using. It is set up similarly to an IOP group. I noticed that a lot of people who aren’t also working a 12 step program seemed to be struggling a lot more than those who do. This meeting was pretty new and there was not a lot of sobriety in the room. Spirituality isn’t a suggestion but neither is it frowned upon. The group can be used for any type of issue and is open to anyone. As mentioned I will go back and update this as I do. Like I said there’s no way I can possibly say something isn’t for me after just one meeting.

I’d love to hear to hear from everyone else.


I did notice a pretty big cross-over from the NA crowd. Hell, I knew over half the people there lol. Oddly enough I kinda missed identifying alcoholic or addict. For me it’s a good reminder of what I’m fighting. Or maybe it’s so ingrained in me that to not say feels weird.

I have my own workbook now so I will definitely be looking through it. I will also check out the website. I will also probably take some new people with me next week.

What I won’t do is come on here and say it’s dumb or won’t work. There’s definitely things even old timers in AA could learn there. I’ll never understand how some people can be so against a form of recovery?? To me the only bad thing to do is nothing.


wow thank you for the comprehensive review on SMART!!

Guess what, i still haven’t gone to one yet, but this was a very interesting read.

It really does sound like a good compliment to the 12 step program.


I’m curious why you say it doesn’t follow the disease model is a con?

But I like the workbook. I don’t have a SMART meeting here I can get to but I believe the workbook is available for purchase on the website.

The opening reading basically says it a choice and that’s the only thing to blame it on. While I certainly agree using was a terrible choice at first but for a lot of us it stopped being a choice.

However they do say that we made the choice to use so we can make the choice to recover, which is empowering.

The AMA considers it a disease. This allows insurance to cover treatment. This allows us to use disability. It gives us protection in the workplace. I really don’t want to start that debate though because it’s usually counterproductive lol.


Hey thank you so much. I think the science behind CBT is a positive, so I get it. SMART is designed to be non secular and more of a scientific approach. So the spiritual aspect is as I would expect. I really think we all could use more tools in our collection so I’m so glad you went and shared the experience.
@VSue I want to try to answer that question. I truly don’t carry a stigma about being an alcoholic. I’m a grateful alcoholic! By me saying and accepting this fact for me I know my experiences can help others around me. I’m always willing help anyone who wants it. I can’t keep what I have unless I am willing to give it away. So in my book if I wanna dance around the fact I’m an alcoholic then I’m not ready to really work on me. And yes I know I’m powerless too! So it’s just a con to the extent that we come at the issue from different perspectives. Just like someone may dislike AA/NA and follow SMART or vice versa.



I’m on the fence for the disease/alcoholic thing. I totally understand how some don’t like the label, I also agree with those that say if we call it a disease then the afflicted person can use it as an excuse to not get help (“it’s a disease, I can’t help it”). BUT for me I feel comfort in knowing there’s a reason why I am how I am. It isn’t just my flawed character, that I’m not a bad person. I can get help because there is research and studies that e plain this.

I don’t think I would pick a program based on it, or not. Maybe.

I was curious what your thoughts were.

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I’ve recruited some fellow AAers to check it out with me next week.


My thinking has kinda been in both camps on this one too. Because I know if I gave it the power earlier on of it being a disease…well my alcoholic brain would of twisted that 7 ways to Sunday. But with that being said I see where this is a life long battle for me now. I won’t beat alcoholism in me. I hope to keep it in remission. I understand people not knowing what to call it?? But I will get deep on a personal level. Even if it’s a disease at the core I know that it stems from me! I don’t like to feel pain. And I’ll manufacture emotional pain to stew in. So for me personally I own that everything I had on my 4th step, it was in me basically. I am my problem. Just my ramblings

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I still have not gone back bc Friday night is a tough time for me to get away from my regular program but I have a friend there so I am going to try and hit another meeting soon

Sounds like I should take advantage of the fact that there are at least 6 meetings a week right down the street from me.

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You should for sure!! From what I have seen they are not easy to find😉

Hey Gabe, from what I recall, they are fairly close to you as well. I’m just down the coast from you.

That’s funny cuz right when I sent that I was like “wait, I think she lives pretty close to me”. Lol.

I would check out a SMART meeting someday. I have no doubt there are many in North County. Ill check it out😁


Haha yes exactly :blush: I’ll make a post, or just post here how it goes.


No free coffee!?! That’s a deal breaker for me lol.

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Nope no free coffee at my SMART meetings either, you were spot on with the description. I find it helpful because in early sobriety I went down the cognitive therapy route. It isn’t enough on its own that’s why I have other meetings in place too. SMART isn’t long term even though you can go as often as you like, the facilitator will always recommend that you go to AA, NA, CA as well to ensure long term sobriety. You don’t get a one to one coach with SMART, I have one with the alcohol service provider.

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What’s all this nonsense about no coffee? I did CBT when I did my outpatient


:joy: :joy:, I only get coffee at my Wednesday morning emerging futures meeting, don’t get any coffee at my survival skills abstinent meeting either. I blame the economy :joy: :joy:

This was true for me as well. CBT (also in outpatient) was fantastic for learning how to manage things like triggers. There’s some really great tools there.

Ultimately I also found I needed a program to get right and stay sober, though I went the AA route.

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