The Beatles have been number one. Muhammad Ali has been number one. Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise named Riker his number one.

And now SMART Recovery Australia is the number one alternative to the 12 step program, at least according to The Temper. We know, anecdotally, that many people come to us because aspects of the 12 step program, which work extremely well for many people, do not suit them. These include compulsory abstinence and the inclusion of a higher power in recovery language. Some people, particularly those who have had negative experiences of religion, are repelled by the spiritual overtones of this approach, and come to us searching for something more corporeal and tangible.

Over at Forbes, whose business-oriented reporting prioritises efficiency and innovation, they see a different appeal in the SMART Recovery model. Forbes focuses on SMART Recovery online meetings as an antidote to some of the toxicity many individuals face online. Paradoxically, the same anonymity that emboldens the most hostile elements of our social media-saturated online space fosters a supportive, structured environment at online SMART meetings. You can see how SMART Recovery Australia’s online meetings run for yourself here. According to the article, allowing users to decide exactly how much of themselves they want to share in an online SMART meeting led to “a well-structured conversation where at least thirty people weighed in meaningfully using video, voice, or chat”.

Of course, the other major benefit of our online meetings is the very reason we started running them in the first place. Our vision to make SMART Recovery accessible and relevant to all presents unique challenges in Australia. Not the least of these is our country’s vast size and relatively low population density. For remote and regional Australians, online meetings offer an opportunity to attend meetings even when there isn’t a face to face meeting for miles around. Similarly, those with irregular working hours, chronic illness, or who provide round-the-clock care to a loved one are able to attend SMART meetings from the comfort of their own homes. When you consider the sheer damage to our communities caused by the “social cancer” of loneliness and isolation, the chance to share your experience with like-minded individuals is truly an invaluable resource.