SMART Recovery Addiction Treatment

SMART Recovery has been proven effective—through ongoing scientific research and clinical refinement—as a means to successfully treat addiction in preteens, teens and young adults.

There are a variety of approaches to treating adolescents and young adults struggling with addiction. Of all the options available, we are most impressed with and utilize SMART Recovery. SMART is an acronym for Self Management And Recovery Training.

SMART Recovery combines Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which helps change negative thought patterns to positive ones, emotional coping strategies and group and family support. This approach provides common sense self-help lessons designed to empower your child to control addictive behaviors by addressing their underlying thoughts and feelings and providing the skills needed to manage their urges for long-term addiction recovery.

What is Addictive Behavior?

Addictive behavior is over-involvement with substance use (e.g., psychoactive substances of all kinds including illicit drugs, prescribed medications, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, food, etc.) or over-involvement with activities (e.g., self-harm, internet and technology, sexual behavior, eating, gambling, spending, relationships, exercise, etc.). We know that there are degrees of addictive behavior. No matter your child’s harmful habit, SMART Recovery can help.

The Benefits of SMART Recovery Addiction Treatment

Children in a SMART Recovery program move away from addictions and toward satisfying lives, learn tools and techniques for self-directed change and benefit from improved tools as scientific knowledge of addiction recovery evolves.

This is accomplished by helping your child with the following:

  • Showing self-responsibility, self-motivation and self-discipline throughout recovery from substance abuse.
  • Replacing self-destructive thoughts and ideas with rational, healthy beliefs.
  • Set achievable goals and milestones for the recovery journey.
  • Being patient with the recovery journey.
  • Accepting impulses as part of the recovery process and recognizing when they occur.
  • Learning how to resist urges to drink, do drugs or act on a negative behavior.
  • Applying SMART Recovery lessons and resources to successfully navigate tough everyday situations.

What is the SMART Recovery Approach?

The SMART Recovery approach to behavioral change is built around the following Four-Point program. SMART Recovery teaches your child how to:

  • 1

    Building and Maintaining Motivation

    This is arguably the most important step since they must make the decision themselves to change their lives. This is where they find reasons to change, and the motivation to keep going.

  • 2

    Cope with Urges

    Urges happen. SMART Recovery helps them deal with these urges and understand why they have them. They learn to control their response to their urges or even forget about them completely.

  • 3

    Manage Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors

    This is where they find new ways of dealing with sadness, anger, and other things that upset them instead of using.

  • 4

    Living a Balanced Life

    This is where they learn to maintain their sobriety by figuring out what’s important to them, setting goals and finding interests.

What is Therapy in Treatment?

The ABCs of SMART Recovery

In order to teach your child about recognizing and overcoming various addiction triggers, SMART Recovery programs use an exercise called the ABCs.

  • A

    Activating Experience

    Every trigger starts with a specific situation that has occurred. The first step is to define events that urge them to drink, do drugs or fall back on bad habits.

  • B


    When they think about the particular event that occurred, how do they see it? They must take into consideration what they’re thinking and feeling. Beliefs can come in many forms: rational, reality-based, logical, irrational, wishful-based thinking, illogical and self-defeating.

  • C


    Every thought and action has a consequence. The consequence is a result of “A” (the activating event) and “B” (their beliefs).

  • D


    They must take any negative beliefs they may have and turn them into a series of questions and answers. This helps them take a deeper look at why the event made them think or feel a certain way.

  • E


    Effects are the result of replacing irrational thoughts with logical, rational beliefs. With practice and time, they will begin to see new behavior patterns form and urges decrease.

The ABCs exercise is used to help your child analyze situations and learn how to modify their thinking and behavioral patterns.

Is Your Child Struggling with Addiction? Get Help Today!

Being a preteen, teen or young adult is difficult enough, but when it when it comes to substance abuse, teens face their own set of challenges. The issues that led to your child to becoming addicted also provide the focus for what to address during rehabilitation. The good news is that the sooner your child embraces recovery, the sooner they will be able to reach their full potential. 

SMART Recovery Addiction Treatment Services for Teens from Potomac Programs