PUBLIC PROFILE: Ben Farlow, Facilitator for SMART Recovery
Ben Farlow is a local facilitator for SMART Recovery, a group that provides an alternative approach to dealing with addictions of all kinds.
Rogue Valley Messenger: What exactly is SMART Recovery, and who might benefit from it?
Ben Farlow: SMART stands for self-management and recovery training. We view addictive behaviors as our own responsibility and the result of choices that we’ve made. But if addictive behaviors are choices, then it’s possible we can choose to stop them. We discourage the use of labels such as alcoholic and addict. It’s a set of tools that empower people to make better choices, taking responsibility for their own actions.
SMART Recovery is for any type of addictive behavior. We aren’t necessarily limited to drugs and alcohol, but discuss eating disorders, gambling problems, and similar non-substance-related issues.
RVM: How does SMART deal with addiction in a way that is different from AA?
BF: Our approach uses self-empowering skills. The program is organized to help people build and maintain motivation to quit, to cope with urges after quitting, and ultimately to live a balanced life substituting healthy addictions such as exercise, meditation, or social involvement.
Addiction is an epidemic in the Rogue Valley, and SMART is another approach to dealing with it. Different approaches to recovery will work for different people. SMART is for people who are tired of feeling powerless. Many approaches to addiction management use monitoring or outside authority as a means to help people change their behaviors. SMART tools provide people with a way to manage their own behaviors. It teaches us to rely on our own moral compass, and make good decisions because they’re important to us, not because someone else is telling us it’s important.
RVM: How does a typical SMART meeting progress?
BF: The meetings start with a check-in in which people discuss any challenges they might be facing. After the check-in, we use one of the SMART tools to analyze particular issues that might have come up in the check-in. For instance, we might do a cost-benefit analysis writing down the pros and cons of engaging in an addictive behavior, or do a root cause analysis of why someone might have an urge to engage in these behaviors. SMART isn’t a lecture; it’s a rolling discussion between group members about how they’d overcome challenges.
RVM: What’s the best way for someone to find out more or get involved with SMART?
BF: Visit our website at www.SmartRecovery.org, or come to our meetings. We meet at the Medford Library on Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. We’re going to create a second weekly meeting starting on Wednesday, May 18 at the same time and place. Beginning Tuesday, May 10, there will be a new meeting of SMART Recovery in Ashland at the Ashland Public Library from 6 until 7:30 pm