SMART Recovery is a program that is typically considered an alternative to 12-step programs. In reality, the two are not mutually exclusive. People can and do attend meetings for both or attend 12-step meetings and use some SMART methods. In fact, SMART Recovery incorporates evidence-based methods, so if you see a therapist while working the steps, you are likely to use some SMART tools anyway.
One particularly useful tool for deciding whether to get treatment is the cost-benefit analysis. It’s very simple, takes only a few minutes, and it can clarify your decisions about treatment. You only have to make four lists. You may want to divide a sheet of paper in quarters. The four lists are: the advantages of using, the disadvantages of using, the advantages of abstaining, and the disadvantages of abstaining.
This is not necessarily a quantitative exercise. You don’t have to balance and cancel roughly equivalent advantages and disadvantages like Ben Franklin suggested. One compelling reason is often enough to justify quitting, but there are often plenty of bonus reasons too.
An example might look like this:
Advantages of drinking: I like it, it helps me relax, and my friends drink.
Disadvantages of drinking: It’s expensive, I often feel sick, I fight with my wife when I drink, I’ve gained a lot of weight, and I often black out.
Advantages of abstaining: I could save a lot of money, I would have extra time, I would feel sick less often, I would get along better with my wife, and I would lose some weight.
Disadvantages of abstaining: I would see my friends less often, quitting might be too hard, I wouldn’t have as much fun.
If you are in active addiction, any list like this will inevitably be skewed by delial, fear, and rationalisation, but it’s a good place to start. It might help to do a specific accounting, such as ‘I’ve gained two stone in the last year and a half’, or ‘I spend so many pounds a week on alcohol, plus repairing damage to my car,’ etc. The more concrete you can be, the less room there is to deceive yourself. At some point, there may be many clear reasons to quit, but you may decide you just don’t want to. That’s fine. No one can quit who doesn’t want to quit, but at least you know what drinking is costing you.
Castle Craig is one of the most established and respected addiction rehab centres in the UK. Castle Craig treats alcoholism and drug addiction as an illness and promote abstinence as essential for long-lasting recovery. We help patients recover through an intensive, personalised programme that combines medical treatment, 12 Step therapy, CBT and other psychiatric therapies and complementary therapies. For information, call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 256 3732. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006 (normal charges apply).
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | January 29, 2020