SMART Recovery's 25th Anniversary & International Conference in Chicago

Ryan McGlaughlin
SMART Recovery Australia Executive Director

Chicago, Illinois. It’s famous for deep-dish pizza, architecture, the ill-fated (until very recently) Chicago Cubs, being the home of former US President Barack Obama, and, of course, the site of 2019’s SMART Recovery USA annual conference and the SMART Recovery International Strategy Workshop.

Although SMART Recovery Australia is very much in its fledgling stage, SMART Recovery USA – the original SMART Recovery organisation – this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

SMART Recovery Australia’s Executive Director, Ryan McGlaughlin, alongside Jennifer Johannesen from the SRAU’s board, and also members of the SRI Board, represented SRAU at this international meeting of minds. The conference discussed aspects of SMART Recovery covering topics on the lived experience, practice, policy and research, and as macro as the future growth of SMART globally to the micro of the success of SMART in Michigan, USA.

SMART Recovery Australia congratulates SMART Recovery USA on its 25th anniversary and was delighted to have had some one-one-one time with Dr Joe Gerstein, the founding President of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Self-Help Network, Inc., a.k.a. SMART Recovery in 1994 (such a remarkable human being). It was pleasing to see at the conference other founding Board members such as Dr Tom Horvath, Dr Hank Robb and Dr Michler Bishop. Such was their vision that SMART Recovery USA has over 2,500 weekly group meetings, and there are now around 3,500 group meetings around the world.

Highlights of the conference included a presentation by Dr John Kelly, entitled 50 years of Addiction Research and Policy: The Shifting Paradigm Towards Long-term Recovery Management. Dr Kelly is a member of the SMART Recovery Australia’s Research Advisory Committee who currently holds a Professorship in Addiction Medicine at Harvard University.
Dr Carlo DiClemente delivered a presentation asking the question “Are Relapse and Recycling Necessary for Addictive Behavior”, a presentation on the shifting paradigm towards the management of long term recovery.

Attendees also heard the powerful lived experience SMART story of National Football League player, DeSean Duncan, which you can check out here:

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As with all conferences there are many side stories you hear, and the one that stood out was learning that the Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment at the University of Kansas is hoping to soon develop a fidelity instrument for their SMART Recovery training program. It is hoped that this will give shared learning as the consistency of the SMART program at a local region is as important nationally and globally.

SMART Recovery International inaugural Chair, Nadene Lee and its inaugural Executive Officer Kim McCreanor presented at the conference on the progress of the development of SRI over the last 12 months.

After the completion of the conference the SMART Recovery International Board (and Darren O’Brien, Chairperson of the newest SMART Recovery national organisation – SMART Recovery Ireland) participated in the strategy workshop that determined the future priorities of SMART Recovery International.

Check SMART Recovery USA’s full conference recap here. 

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