Tag Archives: William L. White

The Science and History of SMART Recovery

Posted on September 19, 2017

SMART Recovery 2017

Guest Blogger, William L. White 

The growth of secular addiction recovery mutual aid groups is an important landmark within the history of addiction recovery in the United States. In recent years, I have helped catalogue (See HERE) the history of groups such as Women for Sobriety, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, LifeRing Secular Recovery, and SMART Recovery, as well as describe the growth of a secular wing of Alcoholics Anonymous (See HERE and HERE).  A related involvement has been serving on SMART Recovery’s International Advisory Council. Dr. Joe Gerstein, founding President of SMART Recovery, recently shared the following update with members of the International Advisory Council. This communication highlights both the growth of SMART Recovery and its increasing recognition by addiction professional and recovery support specialists. It is shared here with permission.

30 August 2017

Dear Member of the SMART Recovery International Advisory Council:

Those of us who are deeply involved in the development and expansion of the SMART Recovery Program into a worldwide phenomenon greatly appreciate your willingness to lend your name and reputation to our endeavors!

SMART Recovery has now clearly entered into the mainstream of the self-help/mutual aid recovery movement with more than 2,400 weekly meetings in 21 countries. The SMART Recovery Program has been endorsed by NIDA, NIAAA, SAMHSA, NADCP, Federal Bureau of Prisons, ASAM, EAPA, AAFP, NICE (UK) and NCHCQR (Australia). SMART Recovery received three mentions in the landmark U.S. Surgeon General’s Report Facing Addiction (2016). The SMART program for correctional facilities InsideOut, funded by NIDA, is now used in more than 200 prisons worldwide.

The SMART Recovery Handbook is now in its 3rd Edition and has been published in 11 languages Continue reading

Recovery Advocacy is Not a Recovery Program

Posted on June 20, 2017

Words of wisdom for those in the New Recovery Advocacy Movement
Guest Blogger: William L. White

Of all the experiences I have had as a recovery advocate, none have been more heart-rending than receiving news that a person prominently involved in recovery advocacy efforts has died of a drug overdose. It reminds me once again that personal health and recovery are the foundation of all larger efforts to educate, advocate, and counsel within the alcohol and other drug problems arena.

This is not a new lesson. Consider, for example, the following stories. John Gough got sober in the Washingtonian revival of the early 1840s, but relapsed three times in the early period of his long career as America’s most charismatic temperance reformer. The lawyer Edward Uniac always stated that he was more vulnerable to the call of alcohol during extended periods of rest than when he was moving from town to town giving his temperance lectures. But Uniac suffered repeated drinking episodes and died in 1869 of an overdose of whiskey and opium while on a temperance lecture tour in Massachusetts. Luther Benson tried to use his own personal struggles with alcohol in the temperance lectures he gave across the country. His tales of continued binge drinking while on the lecture circuit were penned while he was residing in the Indiana Asylum for the Insane. His 1896 autobiography was entitled, Fifteen Years in Hell. Benson truly believed that throwing himself into temperance work could quell his own appetite for alcohol. In retrospect, he was forced to admit the following:

“I learned too late that this was the very worst thing I could have done. I was all the time expending the very strength I so much needed for the restoration of my shattered system.”

The stories of Gough, Uniac, and Benson are not unique. Similar tales were told by others who sought to cure themselves on the temperance lecture circuit. However, recovering people did achieve and maintain stable recovery working in the 19th century temperance movement and within treatment institutions of that era. An important lesson emerged out of the 19th century recovery movements: service activity, by itself, does not constitute a solid program for continued sobriety. This lesson was relearned throughout the 20th century, particularly within the modern rise of addiction counseling as a distinct profession.

A New Recovery Advocacy Movement is spreading across America and beyond, Continue reading