SMART Recovery Programs in Boston

SMART Recovery offers a controversial approach to addiction rehab that may be a right fit for a growing number of people in Boston. Learn more about it here.

Are Boston’s SMART Recovery Programs Right For You?

Once a famously faithful city, Boston has become one of the least religious places in America today. Today, only around 62 percent of Bostonians identify themselves as religious, with the proportion of religious people declining yearly. And of those people who do consider themselves to have faith, a growing number consider it less important in their lives compared to the faithful of previous generations.

While most religion does not figure much into day-to-day life in Boston, drug treatment and rehab is often a very different matter. The famous 12 Step programs popularized by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous remain among the most dominant rehab models in Greater Boston. Additionally, many nonprofits in the area that offer drug and alcohol treatment services also have a strong faith-based approach.

While this might not be a problem for Bostonians who still profess some faith, the lack of secular support groups has presented a problem for Boston’s growing number of less-religious individuals who need care for substance use disorder (SUD)

For these kinds of recovering individuals, SMART Recovery may be a better fit, at least compared to typical faith-based rehab approaches. Before you try SMART Recovery in Boston, here are a few things you should know:

What is SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is an international educational nonprofit group that was founded in the early 90s. It’s primarily known for offering a non-religious, evidence-based alternative to 12 Steps and other faith-based recovery programs. Today, SMART Recovery is the single largest alternative to AA’s still-dominant 12 Steps model.

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How do SMART Recovery Programs work?

Accredited SMART Recovery programs offer recovering individuals secular resources that are intended to help them quit drugs. While often presented as an alternative to other approaches like 12 Steps, SMART Recovery claims that their approach can also work as a supplement rather than a replacement to these other rehab models.

People who participate in a SMART Recovery program can expect to learn the following:

  • Trigger management to prevent unintended substance misuse
  • How to find the inner motivation to quit substance misuse
  • How to think and act systematically in terms of recovery
  • Learn skills needed to have a better-rounded life

What support do SMART Recovery programs provide?

Participants in SMART Recovery programs will receive the following kinds of support:

1.) Non-religious educational materials

 In contrast to 12 Steps, no spiritual or religious references are invoked. 

2.) Group therapy and meetings

These are structured somewhat similarly to the ones offered by 12 Steps, though with care to keep things more secular and inclusive.

3.) Online virtual groups

Because not all locations have convenient SMART Recovery groups close by, SMART Recovery has had online groups available for years. These may also be a good fit for more introverted people who have issues with physical groups. There are also 24/7 rooms ready to give immediate support when needed.

4.) Meeting materials and resources

Smart Recovery offers materials, training, and support for people who want to start a group in their locale.

5.) Message boards

In addition to virtual chat groups, there is also a SMART Recovery message board that could be used to reach out to the wider community of SMART Recovery participants and facilitators.

6.) Facilitator training

Drug rehab and treatment professionals who want to use SMART Recovery principles can undergo training and certification. Treatment facilities can get in touch with SMART Recovery to have their staff trained. 

7.) Non-linear support

There are no set steps in SMART Recovery. Participants typically set their own recovery goals and progress at their own pace, using a variety of evidence-based techniques provided by SMART Recovery.

Additionally, SMART Recovery will work with people regardless of what they believe, even if they believe in a different model for SUD or are currently undergoing other programs diametrically opposed to SMART Recovery’s principles.

Is SMART Recovery effective?

Since the 1990s, various studies have been made looking into the effectiveness of alternatives to 12 Step programs. Making an apples-to-apples comparison is difficult, as SMART Recovery does not have total abstinence as a set goal for all participants. Many SMART Recovery participants, instead, have a goal of moderating their alcohol or drug intake.

However, a 2018 study has found that when adjusting for people who chose SMART Recovery alone as a means for achieving abstinence, recovery rates are similar to 12 Steps.

Should I try SMART Recovery?

The approaches you take for drug and alcohol rehabilitation can be a very personal choice. However, both studies and anecdotal evidence both seem to show that SMART Recovery programs can be an effective alternative to faith-based programs like 12 Steps, especially for less religious people, who are a fast-growing demographic here in Boston.

If you need to find SMART Recovery programs for you or a loved one, our team at Boston Drug Treatment Centers is ready to help. You can also check out SMART Recovery’s website to find out about their services in New England.

Find a drug rehab in Boston today

Early treatment is key to a shorter, more comfortable recovery from drugs and alcohol. Learning about which treatment centers in your neighborhood can give you the help you need can be your first step to recovery.

For more information on drug treatment centers and recovery programs, contact Boston Drug Rehab Treatment Centers at (857) 577-8193.

How It Works

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, our calls are confidential and are available for 24/7 help.

Calls from your area will be answered by Legacy Healing Center, and network of treatment centers who can be found here

We are available 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work for a treatment center and will discuss whether their facility may be an option for you.

These calls are offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither this site nor anyone who answers the call receives a commission or fee dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can: browse top-rated listings, visit our homepage, or visit SAMHSA, at, or by calling 800-662-HELP. You may also contact The Florida Department of Children and Family Services at