There are several different stages at which an individual is at in terms of recovery. For SMART Recovery, these are pre-contemplation, contemplation, action, maintenance and lapse/relapse.  If you are looking for assistance with your addictive behaviour, you’re probably at the preparation stage, where you are thinking and looking at ways to make changes.

I was actually at this stage for quite some time: somewhere between year and eighteen months.  I had become disillusioned with being able to find the appropriate support, and when I was able to finally find the time to access a service, the level of disinterest, judgementality and the inability of some approaches to fit well with me left me even more downcast. This left me feeling bitter and propelled me back into dangerous and destructive drinking and drug use sprees.

When I finally found out about SMART Recovery Australia and attended a meeting, my attitude was to once again try and make an effort to access a service that would help me get back on my feet and give things another go. I still held a lot of antagonism towards any type of meetings, and deep in my heart did not expect much. My prior experiences had made me cynical, but I decided that it was still better than staying where I was.

As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised. I found facilitators and people who all came together to create action plans to help manage their addictive behaviour. This felt motivating. What I found most helpful was hearing others talk about the last seven days and what they would like to achieve over the next seven days.  People aimed to manage not only their addictive behaviours, but any other obstacles that would cause problems in their life. If someone discussed how they had let things slip for the last seven days and fallen back into addictive behaviour patterns, it was extremely motivating and empowering to hear them plan what they would do for the next seven days to minimise the chance of this behaviour recurring.

SMART  enabled me to move from the preparation stage into the action stage (making active changes) and I can now confidently say I have been in the maintenance stage (sustained change: new behaviour replaces old) for probably the last two years.  Whenever I am feeling overconfident that I can handle a drink, or even on those rare occasions where I feel an incredible urge to drink, attending a SMART meeting where I can provide and receive mutual aid from other participants and plan my next seven days keeps me on track. As corny as it sounds, I’m loving my life.

The message here is this: even if you have lost faith or feel like things won’t work out, it’s worth trying again. If you’re new to SMART Recovery, give it a go for a while, even if it’s just to see if it helps.  If you have used SMART Recovery before but moved back into addictive patterns, try going to SMART meetings again. Facilitators and participants are here to provide mutual aid, which is to help each other as a group to use practical, solution-based mental tools and techniques so we can help each other manage or conquer our addictions, no matter which stage we are at.