So a good friend and I were talking about recovery. I have friends in both SMART and 12 steps, and a few have used tools from each. Some are really fans of one or the other, and this one was on the fence.
Innocently enough, friend asked me… so Furies, what is pros and cons of each? and how do the complement each other? OUCH, been waiting for that question! i usually mind my manners and put on my SMART or AA cap depending on which meeting or person I am talking to.. Clean lines between the two. Disclaimer before folks pillage and burn down Castle de Furies.. these are my OWN opinions based on MY own experience.. NOT representing either program!!!! I value both!!!!! Please don’t think of recovery as punishment, it is self care and a great thing.. be gentle with yourself.
Off the top, 12 steps is based on working the 12 steps, sponsor, meetings, Big Book, Higher Power, powerless, and labeling alcoholic. (I know – only requirement for membership is a DESIRE to quit drinking). Add Fellowship and home Group activities, the promises, self inventory, making amends, and helping other alcoholics get sober… and I almost sound like I know what I am talking about!
Ok time for the SMART sales pitch: SMART is Self Management and Recovery Training based on tools and scientificky stuff like behavior therapy. There are great tools, articles, peer support, and their meetings are run by trained facilitators. They work with members real life issues to review the tools. SMART has 4 basic concepts: motivation, manage urges, maintain sobriety, and achieve a balanced life. I can’t say enough about how prioritizing my values and weighing the costs versus benefits of using has gotten me through urges.
I came up with my own mantra based on SMART concept: urges will pass, cant hurt me, and cant make me use ~ I am in control! I write that shite on everything!!!
See some key differences coming to light? Notice where some may see the benefits of each, while others would be clearly drawn to one or the other?
AA is great for folks looking for guidance and a disciplined approach. Fellowship and a belief in something greater than yourself. Core values of admitting you are powerless, taking a moral inventory and amends are a fundamental view found in many organized spiritual groups. Some dont like the sponsor aspect, nor higher power (lots of groups to address that) and some seem to be always working on their fourth step, that pesky personal inventory. Oh and they got chips! Day one, 30, 60, 90 and then the years just roll on! Great to celebrate the milestones…
SMART starts out with .. Power of Choice..and you are going to do most of this by yourself – SELF Management.. no sponsors.. yes to positive peer support. Lots of reading and work to be done on self examination with tools. Folks dont seem to hang out much and no one is volunteering to walk you through tools outside of meetings, although the forums and Chat provide an amazing depth of knowledge and support. SMART is very ok with other programs. Stages of change say lapses happen and you dont lose the knowledge you gained.. not that they encourage taking a break from sobriety nor do they advocate moderation, but is is ok – your choice once again!
Still with me? See the appeal of each? Sooooo how does one explain the complementary nature? Each stands alone nicely for those that use the programs successfully.
SMART seems to be ok with what ever I choose to do, but no requirements for abstinence, amends, sponsor, higher power and meetings. I REALLY value the tools and the rebt based approach to irrational beliefs and and unconditional self, others and life acceptance.
I am a social person, and I want the fellowship of like minded people that AA offers. Higher power is not an issue for me, I see nature and spirituality in the natural order of things. I want to do a fearless personal inventory, and making amends seems like the right thing to do. I enjoy working with others and feel obligated and grateful to give back what has so freely been given to me.. for ME that is working both programs to keep me sober strive for a better me and a balanced future.
So, question answered? Or more questions than when I started? Seems like anything worth while takes work and willingness to keep an open mind. Can’t we all play nice in our sand box and respect each persons worth and right to choose what works for them?
I really look forward to hearing others experiences.. give me something to ponder, and maybe even add to my own recovery toolbox!