The SMART Recovery Program — an alternative to the typical 12-step program — will be expanding across the province with plans to continue to grow in the future.

Starting next week, the program — which stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training — will be available at the Youth Recovery Centre in Summerside, P.E.I., and next month, services will be offered in Alberton, P.E.I.

The program is also training facilitators in Souris, P.E.I., and Montague, P.E.I., with plans to expand to eastern Kings County this summer.

"There's only seven of us, and we run meetings five days a week, it's really hard to stretch ourselves. We get the call that people really need it and they're from Souris and they're from Montague, so that's why we decided to recruit people from that area," said facilitator Roni Power. 

The program has been available in P.E.I. for about a year and a half, through the PEI Reach Foundation, with five sessions a week in Charlottetown and Stratford, P.E.I. It's also available through closed sessions to patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and the Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility. 

Peer-to-peer support system

The program focuses on psychological tools, like cognitive behavioural therapy, coping with urges, maintaining motivation and managing thoughts and behaviours. It doesn't have a sponsor system, but does use peer-to-peer support.

Power said she's seen the program have a big impact on the people it helps — even after just a few sessions.

She said one man who took part in the program for three weeks got a tattoo of one of the techniques used, called "Hierarchy of Values" or H.O.V. It gets people to list all of the important things in their life, and how they are affected by the addiction. 

She recounted running into him at the grocery store.

"And he said 'I just want to tell you, what an impact it had on me,'" said Power. "He pulled up his sleeve and he had H.O.V. tattooed on his arm, so that every time he wanted to 'pick up' he pulled up his sleeve and it reminded him what he was about to lose by doing that. I cried. That's the impact a very simple tool can have."

SMART recovery has donated program materials to the PEI Public Library Service and will be holding information sessions on SMART next month in Montague, P.E.I., and Summerside, P.E.I.