SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a fresh approach to addiction recovery. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. This is more than an acronym: it is a transformative method of moving from addictive substances and negative behaviors to a life of positive self-regard and willingness to change. Far too many people feel powerless over their lives and carry a sense of futility, a dread of staying trapped within an addiction pattern and locked into their circumstances. SMART helps them learn the skills they need to overcome their addictions and transform their lives.

SMART was created for people seeking a self-empowering way to overcome addictive problems. SMART is a powerful recovery community that includes passionate volunteers who recovered with SMART who are driven to help others. Peers and professionals working together fuse science and experience to help people build healthy and balanced lives. In our mutual support meetings, offered online and in-person, participants design and implement their own recovery plan to create a more balanced, purposeful, fulfilling, and meaningful life. SMART provides specialized meetings and resources for a variety of communities including individuals, family & friends, veterans & first responders, young adults, LGBTQ+, and more.

Last reviewed: 2023

Intended Outcomes:

  • Build and maintain motivation
  • Cope with urges
  • Manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  • Live a balanced life

Continuum of Care:
Recovery/Maintenance, Treatment

Topic Areas:
Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Disruptive Behaviors, Eating Disorders, Physical Health, Substance Use, Trauma

Adult (25+), Young Adult (19-24)

Geographic Locations:
Rural, Urban

Delivery Settings:
Any, Community-Based, Congregate Care Facility, School-Based, Virtual

Cultural Considerations:
Limited research found involving diverse populations

SMART Recovery is designed for young adults and adults who want to address any addiction or harmful habit.

There is no minimum credential requirement to implement this program.


Is Training Required?
Yes, see developer info

Who can provide the required training?
SMART Recovery has various training program courses and offerings depending on the desired role you’re seeking. Please see the following link for more information:

Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Yes, refer to program website

Program/Practice Website:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:

Beck, A. K., Forbes, E., Baker, A. L., Kelly, P. J., Deane, F. P., Shakeshaft, A., Hunt, D., & Kelly, J. F. (2017). Systematic review of SMART Recovery: Outcomes, process variables, and implications for research. Psychology of addictive behaviors : journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors, 31(1), 1–20.

Brooks, A. J., & Penn, P. E. (2003). Comparing treatments for dual diagnosis: twelve-step and self-management and recovery training. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 29(2), 359–383.

Campbell, W., Hester, R. K., Lenberg, K. L., & Delaney, H. D. (2016). Overcoming Addictions, a Web-Based Application, and SMART Recovery, an Online and In-Person Mutual Help Group for Problem Drinkers, Part 2: Six-Month Outcomes of a Randomized Controlled Trial and Qualitative Feedback From Participants. Journal of medical Internet research, 18(10), e262.

Campbell, W., Hester, R. K., Lenberg, K. L., & Delaney, H. D. (2016). Overcoming Addictions, a Web-Based Application, and SMART Recovery, an Online and In-Person Mutual Help Group for Problem Drinkers, Part 1: Three-Month Outcomes of a Randomized Controlled Trial Med Internet Res 2013;15(7):e134

Zemore, S. E., Lui, C., Mericle, A., Hemberg, J., & Kaskutas, L. A. (2018). A longitudinal study of the comparative efficacy of Women for Sobriety, LifeRing, SMART Recovery, and 12-step groups for those with AUD. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 88, 18–26.

Additional Sources:


Promising rating

WV Rating:
»WV Ratings Info

Rationale for Rating:

SMART Recovery has been studied in multiple designs including quasi-experimental (e.g., Zemore et al., 2018) and RCT methodologies (e.g., Campbell et al., 2016; Hester et al., 2013), with general indications of short-term improvement in substance use (e.g., drinking; Hester et al., 2013). Less work focused on addictive activities. Despite promise, there are several complicating factors that limit interpretation of available literature. First, research generally included limited demographic variability, with most participants being adult and white. Additionally, as suggested in systematic reviews of the program (e.g., Beck et al, 2017), even though mental health diagnoses are very comorbid with the substance use disorders, only three found studies used a standardized measure at baseline, and only one reported a change in mental health outcomes. This lack of evaluation and control for pathology, as well as a lack of evaluation as to whether participants received other treatments (e.g., psychosocial, pharmacological) can be seen as a significant limiting factor in determining the effects of the SMART Recovery program. Such a notion was indicated in some studies (e.g., Campbell et al., 2016) through suggestions that participants did not only utilize SMART Recovery, but found other means to support their changes in drinking habits. Environmental factors (e.g., location, peers) were also not consistently assessed as a contributing factor for relapse (e.g., being around others who are utilizing or pressuring to use substance use due to an inability to relocate may prompt relapse). Additionally, several studies (e.g., Brooks & Penn, 2003; Zemore et al., 2018) concluded that the duration of abstinence was inferior for AA and other 12-step programs than SMART Recovery. Finally, indicated, “From a scientific perspective, the effectiveness of all support groups for addictive behavior is unproven” suggesting uncertainty about the program’s outcomes.

Contraindications or Concerns:
None identified

Other Registries/Ratings

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Not On Registry

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:
Not On Registry

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:
Not On Registry

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
Not On Registry

Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Not On Registry