About the program

About SMART Family & Friends

SMART Family & Friends is intended to assist anyone affected by the addictive behaviour of someone close to them. It is first and foremost a self-management program. SMART Family & Friends aims to provide a practical toolkit for living in the present.

SMART Family & Friends has proven to be highly effective in supporting families and friends across Australia. SMART Family & Friends was adapted from SMART Recovery, a strengths-based mutual aid program for people struggling with problem behaviours of all kinds.

The program supports you to develop more effective coping strategies and find a greater sense of fulfilment in your own life. It does this by focusing on you, the person providing the care and support, not the person with the problem behaviour.

You, like other SMART Family & Friends participants, are an ordinary person facing highly stressful circumstances. Every relationship is unique. Each relationship brings its own set of circumstances and the solutions that you seek will be personal and individual.

Armed with knowledge and support, you can learn how to cope with and respond to the problem behaviour of the person you support, in much the same way that we learn to cope with a broad range of difficult and complex problems in life. The SMART Family & Friends approach leaves no room for labelling, for seeing the person offering support as part of the ‘disease of addiction,’ or of wearing any responsibility for ‘causing’ the problem.

SMART Family & Friends prioritises harm minimisation for you and the person you support. The aim is to keep you safe from harm and to protect your home, and particularly children, from the harmful effects of problem behaviour.

This aim is more realistic, and more manageable, than any attempt to control the problem behaviour itself.

Why SMART Family & Friends?

The sole aim of SMART Family & Friends is to improve your quality of life, coping skills and support system. It is about getting you to Be SMART and regain control of your own life. 

Being in a close relationship with someone struggling with a problem behaviour is highly stressful. You may wonder what you have done to deserve this stress. You may have no idea what your new situation will mean for you. You are likely to worry that you won’t cope. You may be feeling powerless, embarrassed, angry, exhausted or all of these things at once.

Watching someone you care about struggle with a problem behaviour can feel frustrating, confusing and lonely. It takes its toll, impacting on your mental health, wellbeing, and lifestyle balance. You may be putting all of your energy into supporting someone and trying to ‘fix’ them. It is important to remember that you didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, and you can’t control it. All you can do is cope with it.

SMART Family & Friends is about getting you to concentrate on yourself and your own personal goals and values, rather than focusing on the person you support. It involves guiding you to look at some of your own thoughts, feeling and behaviours and explore whether these are working for you or not. SMART Family & Friends aims to teach self-empowerment and self-reliance, using tools and techniques for self-directed change. It is about putting meaning and satisfaction back into your own life.

SMART Family & Friends aims to build on your personal strengths and to increase your resilience and wellbeing. It is about finding the motivation to change, engage in self-care, challenge your own thinking and communicate assertively. It provides strategies to stay safe, seek support, problem solve, cope with lapses and set meaningful goals according to your own values.

Once you start restoring some balance in your own life, you will start to remember that the person you support is so much more than just their problem behaviour. Once your wellbeing has improved, you can better understand the person you support, validate their experience and point of view, and acknowledge the difficulty of their situation. Once you can do this, you can begin to listen and communicate in ways that are less judgemental and more effective.

By taking better care for yourself, you may also be more able to care for the person you support. Hopefully this will enable you to re-establish healthier relationships and rebuild trust.