SMART Recovery Activities
in the Washington, D.C. Area
The Washington Area SMART Recovery organization is made up of fifteen individual group meetings in D.C. and nearby Maryland and Virginia affiliated with the nation-wide SMART Recovery organization. Some of these local meetings have existed since 1991, others are more recent. Some had earlier been associated with Rational Recovery, others have been affiliated with SMART Recovery since their start. We are a strictly non-profit organization comprised of unpaid volunteers. For those interested in more details about SMART Recovery, the most comprehensive Internet site is that of the national SMART Recovery site, which includes a bulletin board for posting Qs & As and also contains instructions on how to join on-line SMART Recovery groups that discuss cognitive approaches to recovery.Our groups emphasize personal choice and responsibility, not genetic or "disease" explanations of addiction. We believe we recover from our addictive behaviors through self-help activities designed to encourage us to develop rational thinking and changes in our behavior. In doing so, we draw heavily on the methodology used in Albert Ellis' Rational/Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), but we employ other approaches that have proved helpful and appropriate as well. For further information on REBT, see The Albert Ellis Institute.
An informal survey of participants over the past several years shows that people first attend our meetings for a variety of reasons in their own thinking. Some come because of previous knowledge of REBT and are interested in its application to their addiction. Some come seeking a non-religious approach to recovery (our approach is rationality-based rather than spiritual, but is fully compatible with religious beliefs). Others attend because of disillusionment with other recovery programs; we do not disparage these other programs and their successes and failures, but emphasize that each individual suffering from addiction is different, and that different programs will be successful with different individuals. Some are mandated by the courts to attend a recovery group; we welcome those who have a sincere interest in our approach. Some participants have come to moderate their drinking or drug use; we welcome their participation, but emphasize that our program concentrates on abstinence. We believe those who remain do so because our approach is working for them. Our experience is that more than a single meeting is required to determine this, and we recommend attending for up to six weeks to make a judgment about SMART Recovery's usefulness.
Our meetings usually last an hour and a half and are informal. Cross-talk is not only permitted, but encouraged. We work on practical problem-solving, preferring rational methodology to ideology. We usually begin by having participants do a "check-in" and discuss their past week to help determine who is most likely to need discussion time. The meeting facilitators are also free to introduce special topics for discussion. One of our professional advisors is occasionally on hand as a discussant. Contributions to cover expenses are requested at the end of our meetings, but these are strictly voluntary. Some SMART Recovery literature is available for sale at our meetings; we also have a small number of books on recovery, including but not limited to the SMART literature, which can often be borrowed from one meeting to the next. For a further discussion of the differences between our meetings and those of AA, see this Opinion Page. For one member's personal views on differences with RR, see this other Opinion Page.
Our professional advisors and selected meeting coordinators are available to talk to professional addiction counselors and other interested groups to explain the details of our program. You can contact us at the e-mail address given below.