SMART Recovery: An Introduction

Hello, my name is Paul Hearnden and I am a facilitator with SMART Recovery. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training.  We are a non-profit group that views addiction as a learned behavior as opposed to a disease or personality fault and offers a support group with a scientifically based method for addiction recovery.

We believe that addictions are learned patterns of behaviour that become stronger over time as a result of pursuing immediate pleasure to relieve discomfort or distress and to feel “normal”. Our addictive behaviours are reinforced and strengthened as we are caught up in the repetitive pattern of giving into overwhelming urges for the short-term relief we crave despite our awareness of the long-term costs to health, relationships, self-esteem and finances that result from such behaviour.

SMART’s approach to recovery is to provide members with tools to evaluate their priorities in life and teach them how to change their self-defeating thinking, emotions, and behaviours in order to reverse these patterns and work towards long-term satisfaction and quality of life. To do this, SMART utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) along with group support to unlearn the destructive behaviours that we have developed over many years.

As opposed to traditional 12-step programs, the SMART program is broken down into four basic stages:

  1. Building and maintaining motivation;
  2. Coping with urges;
  3. Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours; and,
  4. Living a balanced life.

Whether you’re dealing with substance abuse issues - such as alcohol or narcotics - or destructive compulsive behaviours - such as eating, shopping, sex, or gambling - SMART offers information, tools and techniques that may help replace your self-destructive behaviours with healthier options.

We are open to both men and women and are not associated with any religious, political or ideological group. We run two free open meetings per week to offer support to help deal with the needs of our participants and offer instruction in the tools contained within SMART. When you decide to change your life, especially after years of unhealthy behaviours, it can seem intimidating and overwhelming. The only way to know for sure if SMART can help you is to try. Recovery is difficult, but with persistence, effort and support you can take back your life.

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry reports that approximately one in ten people have a problem with drugs or alcohol. My goal for these columns is to provide those suffering from addictive behaviour with an avenue for change and also to provide the general public with a perspective on how addictions develop and how those who suffer can take an active role in changing their lives for the better.

For more information please visit our website at www.smartokanagan.org or attend one of our weekly meetings:

  • Tuesdays @ 7 PM at 204-1456 St. Paul Street (Downtown)
  • Thursdays @ 7 PM at The Bridge (Portable 2) 760 Highway 33 West (Rutland)


Thank you for reading.



Paul Hearnden has lived, worked and volunteered in Kelowna for 25 years. After seeing how effective SMART was in helping people overcome their addictions as well as their emotional and behavioral problems he chose to become a facilitator in order to give back to the community. Paul believes that no matter how deeply one’s addictions lie there is always hope for recovery and help if they are willing to pursue it.

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