SMART Alternative Self-Help Groups Tackle Substance Abuse
The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network, Inc. worked to solidify and expand its network of alcohol and substance abuse self-help groups, known as Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery).
SMART Recovery offers a secular alternative to spiritually based 12-step self-help programs. SMART Recovery relies on cognitive-behavioral principles and is designed to help alcohol and substance abusers achieve abstinence in a finite period (usually six months to a year), rather than relying on lifelong meeting attendance.
- Network member professionals and volunteers:
- Wrote or revised manuals for SMART Recovery participants and group coordinators.
- Ran a series of six training workshops for coordinators in New York, Houston, San Diego, Orlando, Chicago, and Boston.
- Publicized the program to correctional facility professionals.
- Some 20 new SMART Recovery groups for the general population joined 158 in existence prior to the grant.
- Some 18 new groups for those in correctional institutions joined six others already in existence prior to the grant.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a grant of $49,447 from July 1996 to June 1997.
Drug and alcohol self-help recovery groups are an important part of this country's substance abuse aftercare and treatment system. Historically, spiritually oriented 12-step recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been the predominant resource available to people with drug and alcohol problems. A large number of people with alcohol and substance abuse problems, however, cannot or will not participate in spiritually based programs.
The SMART Recovery (for Self Management And Recovery Training) self-help network of free, volunteer-led, addictive-behavior self-help groups is an alternative choice for many individuals who have a problem with the spiritual basis of AA and NA. The SMART Recovery methodology is based on the cognitive-behavioral principle that people can overcome addictions through their own rational faculties. Its programs promote abstinence and accomplish this behavior modification in a finite period (usually six months to a year), and therefore do not require a lifetime of participation in support groups.
The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self Help Network, which runs SMART Recovery, was founded in 1994 as an outgrowth of Rational Recovery, an organization that was incorporated in 1991. SMART Recovery programs serve both members of the public and prison populations. Before the grant period began, the Network had 158 regular groups, each led by a lay volunteer coordinator with help from a professional advisor (a counselor or psychologist). Six self-help groups served prisons in Massachusetts; and corrections officials from New Hampshire, Vermont, California, and New Jersey requested help in starting programs in prisons in those states.
The Foundation provided grant support to help this loose-knit organization coordinate the efforts of its self-help groups. The project had three major objectives:
- Develop educational and promotional materials for both coordinators and participants.
- Provide basic training in the principles of SMART Recovery methodology to current and new coordinators and treatment professionals.
- Attract the participation of correctional facility professionals.
- Educational and promotional materials were produced. The Network president produced the SMART Recovery Member's Manual, a workbook for people who attend SMART Recovery meetings, and the SMART Recovery Coordinator's Manual, for people who lead or wish to start a new SMART group. The members' workbook includes chapters on building motivation, coping with urges, problem solving, and lifestyle balances. The coordinators' manual, in binder format, explains rational emotive behavior therapy, counseling and communications skills, and how to operate groups and lead meetings. A network psychotherapist revised SMART Recovery: A Sensible Primer, a soft cover handbook that provides basic educational information on overcoming alcoholism and drug addiction. A syllabus for programs to train coordinators had been planned, but the Network decided that a set of overhead transparencies was sufficient. The Network's board also produced a promotional brochure detailing SMART Recovery principles and an agenda for upcoming training sessions aimed at coordinators and correctional facility staff. Although the project relied largely on a direct-marketing brochure to attract participants to its workshops, a greater effort to get media coverage for the organization might have attracted even larger numbers of participants.
- The Network provided training in SMART Recovery methodology. Network board members ran a series of six training workshops for coordinators in New York, Houston, San Diego, Orlando, Chicago, and Boston. The workshops drew 342 participants, reaching a substantial portion of SMART Recovery's existing network. About 60 percent of current group coordinators and professional advisors attended one of the six workshops, along with 40 new coordinators-in-training.
- The Network attracted the participation of correctional facility professionals. Some 18 new groups began operating in prisons, and a number of state corrections departments began testing SMART Recovery within their prisons. The Arizona Department of Corrections, for example, launched five pilot projects, with the expectation that it would expand the program statewide if the pilots proved successful. Some 66 professional counselors working inside 48 correctional facilities attended the national training workshops, and 37 correctional facilities have also requested information and purchased materials.
The network continued to grow with approximately 20 new self-help groups formed during the grant period in addition to the 18 new groups in prisons. The sale of publications has given the network a measure of financial independence with an estimated two-thirds of the organization's income now derived from publication sales.
Almost 3,000 brochures were mailed out to coordinators and correctional facility staff to publicize the network and its workshop series. Participants at the workshops received copies of the manuals and primer. Those materials are also available for sale by mail to self-help group participants and treatment professionals. In addition to the prisons already running groups, 37 other correctional facilities have also requested information and purchased materials. The primer was distributed to about 300 prison officials nationwide.
AFTER THE GRANT
The grantee held three training workshops for corrections officials in federal prisons on the East Coast shortly after the grant period ended. It also planned another series of workshops for both current and new coordinators in 1998. The grantee intends to revise its publications based on comments from the field, and may translate some materials into Spanish. It is also developing workbooks and videos specifically geared to prison populations, including young offenders.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Start-up of a National Secular Substance Abuse Self-Help Recovery Program
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network, Inc. (Willoughby Hills, OH)
Dates: July 1996 to June 1997
J. Randy Cicen
(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)
Horvath AT and Bishop FM. SMART Recovery Member's Manual. Cleveland, Ohio: SMART Recovery, 1996.
Horvath AT and Bishop FM. SMART Recovery Coordinator's Manual. Cleveland, Ohio: SMART Recovery, 1996.
Knaus W. SMART Recovery: A Sensible Primer. Longmeadow, Mass.: SMART Recovery, 1997.
SMART Recovery Training Workshops 19961997 (promotional brochure). Cleveland, Ohio: SMART Recovery, 1996.
"SMART Recovery Training Workshop," November 23, 1996, New York, N.Y. Attendance: 58.
"SMART Recovery Training Workshop," January 11, 1997, Houston, Texas. Attendance: 24.
"SMART Recovery Training Workshop," February 8, 1997, San Diego, Calif. Attendance: 101.
"SMART Recovery Training Workshop," March 8, 1997, Orlando, Fla. Attendance: 22.
"SMART Recovery Training Workshop," April 12, 1997, Chicago, Ill. Attendance: 56.
"SMART Recovery Training Workshop," May 10, 1997, Boston, Mass. Attendance: 81.
Report prepared by: Barbara Finkelstein
Reviewed by: Robert Narus
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Michael Beachler