New addiction recovery program offered for Oakland County residents

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published January 13, 2022

 The Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities is offering a new program known as SMART, which utilizes both group support and workbooks, such as the one pictured.

The Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities is offering a new program known as SMART, which utilizes both group support and workbooks, such as the one pictured.

Photo provided by Janine Krasicky Sadaj

Advertisement

TROY — The Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities is welcoming families struggling with addiction to join them in a new program utilizing the SMART technique.

SMART stands for “self-management and recovery training.”

“It’s an enhanced program that will complement a current recovery program they are in with a four-point system,” explained Tracy Chirikas, the community relations manager for the alliance. “The alliance became certified in SMART recovery in 2021. We were trained in this amazing program that was created in 1994. It is a science-based approach to recovery that utilizes tools, strategies and exercises to help complement an individual with their recovery program. It is going to enhance our support groups (that) we currently do.”

Angela Spino-Bogota, a certified prevention specialist and a certified peer recovery mentor with the alliance, said that SMART can be used in conjunction with other recovery programs — such as 12-step programs, support groups and counseling — so that they can complement one another. It can also be used as a stand-alone recovery support program.

“I’m a person in long-term recovery myself, and that means that I have a little over nine continuous years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol. When I first heard about SMART, I thought it was another tool we have in our toolbox,” she said. “It’s based on a four-point program. The first point is building and maintaining motivation to change. The second point is coping with urges. The third point is managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The fourth point is living a balanced life.”

“It is a group-led dynamic,” added Chirikas. “A big part is sharing, guiding and helping one another without judging or telling others what they should be doing.”

One of the things that sets SMART apart from other recovery programs is its use of workbooks, which program members can use to share their thoughts and track patterns.

“We can equip participants with a workbook, which they can have sent to them or use online once they register,” said Chirikas. “One of the things we know about humans in general is that we can hear something and see something, but when we also write it, we can incorporate all three of those mindsets, and it becomes more familiar. I think it helps us hear these messages in our own voice rather than just listening to someone else or seeing what worked for someone else.”

“One of my favorite things about this program is you can go in and use some of these workbooks if you are, for instance, having urges. You can log your urges, when you’re having and what might be triggering them, and find patterns that might be developing and possibly make adjustments,” added Spino-Bogota. “For me, as a person in long-term recovery, I can go and use tools that are appropriate for urges and temptations as needed, and then go back to point four, which is living a balanced life.”

There are no requirements to join except that those participating live in Oakland County.

“It does not require you to be in the abstinence phase of recovery to join in the meetings,” said Spino-Bogota. “If one of the people you love is struggling with substance use and they are considering doing something about it, they can come to a SMART meeting so long as they are not disruptive. … There doesn’t have to be a stop to all of your symptoms to start trying to take action.”

Additionally, SMART is designed to help those struggling with any sort of addictive behavior.

“People with any type of addictive behavior are welcome as part of SMART. It can be any type of addictive behavior, be it drugs, alcohol, sex, eating, or whatever,” said Chirikas. “They meet together because it’s not the actual substance being abused, it is the behavior.”

There is even a separate group that the alliance will host that will utilize the SMART program for friends and family members of those who suffer from addictive behavior.

“Family and friends also need to be supported and need tools when they are navigating this situation, which, for lack of a better term, has invaded their home,” said Chirikas. “SMART offers complimentary programs for those friends and family members.”

The friends and family support group will be held 7-8:30 p.m. Thursdays. The individual SMART recovery groups will be meeting 9:30-11 a.m.  Tuesdays. They are currently virtual meetings. Those wishing to sign up can do so by emailing info@achcmi.org. More information can be found at www.achcmi.org. The alliance’s SMART meetings began Jan. 11, but those interested can join in at any time. People with any addictive behavior are welcome to be part of SMART.

Chirikas said that the alliance was inspired to explore the use of SMART while they were attempting to help those in recovery during the pandemic.

“COVID made us shift to a virtual environment, and we saw that during virtual meetings how challenging it is for members and their families who are struggling to work through some of their critical crisis phases. The beauty of SMART is that we have the ability to offer such a phenomenal, results-oriented program virtually when that is what makes sense,” she said. “It has tools that can be used anywhere and can be moved from a live meeting to a virtual one, depending, as needed.”

Spino-Bogota said that having the SMART process be rooted in community while taking a science-based approach to addressing addictions offers the alliance the opportunity to help people they have never been able to reach before.

“As a person who already had a foundation with individual and group cognitive therapy, the first thing I noticed about SMART is that it’s a science-based approach, which incorporates some of those cognitive therapy tools that you can use on your own and deal with the different stages of change,” she said.

More information can be found at www.achcmi.org.

Advertisement