The annual SMART Recovery Conference was held on the 18th to 20th of September in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America. Cincinnati is the birthplace of William Howard Taft, the only American President to hold the ‘top job’ and the Chief Justice of the United States. The latter was his passion.
As always, this year’s conference was a gathering of facilitators, volunteers, participants and friends coming together to share ideas, successes (and failures), learnings, as well as just being an opportunity to meet each other personally and celebrate the SMART Recovery program at a national and internationally level.
Ryan McGlaughlin, SMART Recovery Australia’s Executive Director, participated in the international panel at the SMART Recovery Conference. Due to illness, there were unfortunately a few international spokespeople that did not travel, many however sent video presentations.
The Australian presentation was received very well. Some of our favourite presentations were Guerrilla Tactics for the Hostile, Difficult, Disengaged, and Over-Engaged Participant, by David Saenz, and How to manage a SMART Meeting, by Tom Horvath, President of SMART Recovery. Another very good and innovative presentation was Enticing Newcomers to Talk at Meetings, by Matt Frank, a facilitator from New York. You can view some of the videos and presentations here.
There are now 17 countries with SMART Recovery and 1,654 meetings around the world. SMART Recovery has 969 group meetings. UK SMART has 520 group meetings. Canada has 101 group meetings and Denmark has 21 SMART Recovery group meetings. The Republic of Ireland has begun a pilot of SMART Recovery meetings with 30 treatment providers. The pilot includes face-to-face and online groups and training. For our international region, it is to be noted there are now SMART Recovery groups in China, India, Korea, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Tom Horvath delivered a presentation on what were the key ingredients in a SMART Recovery meeting. He is currently writing a paper on what should be universal (in his opinion) for consideration. Last year he stated (and the Board endorsed) that SMART Recovery is mutual aid, evidence-based and about choice. This year he stated SMART Recovery has currently ten tools that could be given to facilitators to use universally. This does not mean all tools have to be used. It however gives facilitators a substantial tool kit to utilise when running meetings.
There is also a broader discussion occurring about ‘mindfulness’ becoming a major tool of SMART Recovery. For more information, you can refer to the below presentation by Bill Abbott, Mindfulness and Self-Empowerment: How and Why Mindful Awareness can add to SMART Self – Management.
It was reported that the SMART Recovery USA website reached over a million visits last year.
A short film called ‘The Business of Recovery’ was launched at the conference. The film challenges what success is really achieved in the addiction field in America compared to the amounts of money spent. It is at times a frank and confronting account of the industry. Whilst the culture of the American Alcohol and Other Drugs sector is much different to Australia, it certainly raises some pertinent questions that would apply to Australians. You can watch the trailer below.