SMART Recovery is a national organization dedicated to helping students, face-to-face or online. At ETSU, the group meets every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Culp Center, room 337. The meetings are held by graduate student Jessi Henderson.
SMART stands for Self-Management And Recovery Training. The thing about Smart Recovery is that it’s different than 12 step groups, say Alcohol Anonymous. Smart is a four point program.
They come because they want to get better, not because they are forced to. And not everyone gets better in the same way.
The meetings start with a goal report of the week before. Maybe it was going to the gym twice in that week or going to bed earlier each night. Knowing that someone is rooting for you to accomplish that tiny step makes one want more to accomplish the goal. After the goal report, the table opens for anyone who wishes to share a story. After that, they have working time and exercise activities.
“We have a whole toolbox of activities,” said Mina McVeigh, the Drug and Alcohol Coordinator with the Outreach Programs at ETSU.
Some of those activities include a cost benefit analysis of the problem. The group will work together to create pros and cons of a specific problem. They also work on problem solving techniques, ways to organize better, and adjust worrying behaviors. All of these help in self-management and make it easier to get rid of the negative influences.
Toward the end of the meeting, the group will do mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a way to increase one’s self awareness, to be unconditionally present. It’s learning to not be so numbed out, learning to not judge your life, and learning to cope with urges.
“You learn an urge will not kill you,” McVeigh says, then gives an example.
“Say you love to eat pizza and can’t quit eating pizza. You’re passing by a pizza place and have an urge to get a slice. If you keep on going by, the urge will subside, often known as urge surfing. You don’t have to give in that urge.”
The mindfulness has been associated with positive outcomes, although how much people need of it varies.
A decrease in symptoms (anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, alcohol and substance abuse), and an overall improvement in mental health is associated with practicing mindfulness.
“The goal is to become a healthy, balanced person,” said McVeigh.
“The program does not require abstinence or sobriety. We start where the student is. It’s not faith based, but also does not discourage faith. We are unopinionated on addiction being a disease. We want everyone to graduate and be healthy and to be able to manage themselves.”
A lot of people, especially those who start using at a young age, never learn the things that make them happy. When you use, your happy things decrease. A part of getting better is doing the things that you love again.
Sleeping, eating, exercise, and being outside in the sunlight are recommended activities that everyone can do to feel good. Hang out with friends that are a positive influence, go to the gym, play a board game, read a book, or listen to music. Find a healthy distraction.
“The best thing to do is try it out. You don’t like it, don’t come back,” McVeigh said.
“No one is ever sorry they got better. People recover all the time. They set aside bad choices and do better.”
For more information about the Smart Recovery Program, please visit www.smartrecovery.org.