Before he had even gotten out of high school, Kevin had already fully immersed himself in the alcohol-focused mindset of college life. That ritual went on for more than half his life as Kevin battled addiction. He had tried a 12-step program to chase his demons away, but he believed the one-size-fits-all approach wasn’t tailored for him.
Then, by happenstance, Kevin stumbled upon a substance abuse treatment program based on scientific strategies and self-empowerment techniques and, suddenly, he was hooked. Kevin has been in recovery now for more than four years. He said the SMART Recovery® program, which encourages reliance on self rather than a higher power, has changed his life.
That’s good for Kevin and thousands of others because the need for recovery has never been greater.
More than 10 percent of the population in the United States above the age of 12 will abuse a chemical substance at some time during the year.
That’s almost 50 million Americans. Just as alarming, abusive drinking leads to more than 85,000 deaths each year in the United States.
Most of the people who look for help are typically directed to a substance abuse treatment facility. Whether they begin recovery on an inpatient or outpatient basis, these same people will more than likely be encouraged to continue treatment by attending a 12-step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
In some facilities, participation in these programs is a requirement of clinical treatment.
Numbers back that claim including one survey, which found that nearly 80 percent of clinicians surveyed had referred their clients to 12-step groups. Participation in AA and NA is also usually mandated by the courts system as well.
But, for all the success stories written at AA or NA, for some reason or another, 12-step groups have not been the answer for a good number of people. Rather than surrender to hopelessness, thousands have turned instead toward an alternative path to sobriety. It’s called SMART Recovery®.
Self-Management and Recovery Training – SMART – is a global nonprofit organization that has been around for 25 years. An alternative to 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery® employs a free science-based approach to tackle addiction, and it is rooted in four points:
Compared to 12-step programs, a National Institute on Drug Abuse study reported that SMART Recovery® was “effective in improving health employment status.” However, the study found that “improvements in alcohol use and life satisfaction occurred in both approaches.”
For some, the biggest sticking point with AA or NA is the spiritual component of the programs. As a treatment option to consider, SMART Recovery® is based on a scientific foundation, not a spiritual one.
People who attend SMART meetings are directed to increase their self-reliance, rather than accept powerlessness over their addictions. A belief in God and a view that addiction is a disease are not promoted, either. Another difference from 12-step programs is that SMART Recovery® participants do not obtain sponsors. In AA or NA, sponsors serve as mentors – often outside of meetings – to guide new people through recovery. In SMART Recovery®:
Regardless of which support group is preferred, people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol share a common bond: continued abuse despite adverse consequences. That’s because addiction holds a long and powerful grip on the brain. Doctors refer to this type of influence as a “substance-related and addictive disorder.”
Besides alcohol and drugs, individuals can get addicted to anything from sex and gambling to shopping and the internet. A common denominator with any addiction is when the behavior becomes overwhelming to the point where life becomes unmanageable. Yet, the behavior continues, even when the consequences are life-threatening.
Some of the danger signs of addictive behavior include:
Signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol addiction may vary depending on the individual and the substance abused, family history, and personal circumstances.
Withdrawal occurs in individuals who have developed physiological and physical dependence on drugs or alcohol and who eliminate or reduce their use of the substance.
Withdrawal symptoms begin to surface when an individual reduces the intake of a substance below levels that the body had become accustomed to metabolizing. This can impact a range of bodily functions and systems. Typical withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and drugs include:
Alcoholism and drug addiction do not have to lead to a dead end. The important thing is to ask for help. Each person in recovery from substance abuse can determine which path to recovery works best for them. A good starting point to consider is detoxification.
This type of treatment that rids the body of all addictive chemicals can be found at either a hospital or professionally managed residential substance abuse treatment facility.
Here, doctors can prescribe medications to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with alcohol and drug withdrawal and licensed staff can monitor progress and prevent any health complications in a safe and quiet environment.
Addiction can be beaten. Your decision to detox is an indication that you want to regain control of your life. And those desires no longer include alcohol and drugs. However, there is more to achieving sustained sobriety than you may have thought.
If you are serious and believe you have the resolve to commit to recovery, a residential substance abuse treatment facility is highly recommended after detox. Under the supervision of certified health and substance abuse professionals, addiction is combated through individualized treatment programs that include one-on-one counseling, group therapy, and educational workshops that can increase the chances of recovery.
National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from from from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885378/
SMART Recovery. Retrieved from from from https://www.smartrecovery.org/
Scientific American. Retrieved from from from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/rosetta-stones/when-beer-becomes-the-burden/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from from from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preface