Smart Recovery 12 months on

Susan Innes, Lisa Sturrock, Mandy Morrison & Stew Talbot ' - FPA -
Susan Innes, Lisa Sturrock, Mandy Morrison & Stew Talbot ' - FPA -

It’s been exactly 12 months since the Smart Recovery programme held its inaugural meeting at DAPL in Leven.

Since then, it has expanded to serve several towns within Fife, with seven meetings per week now taking place all over the Kingdom.

Susan Innes, a counsellor at DAPL, helped to set the addiction programme up in 2014, and she commented on why it has proved so successful.

“At the Smart Recovery group, people are being shown cognitive behavioural tools that they can take away and use.

“It is not a therapy group - they aren’t talking about the way they used to be - it’s very much about here and now and forward thinking about how to stay in recovery or work towards it.”

For those in Smart Recovery, there are no set goals to meet and no step by step process.

I’m exceptionally passionate about Smart. It is all about empowerment, and supporting and enabling people to tackle their own addictions

Stew Talbot

Counsellor Mandy Dickinson explained: “The best way I’ve heard it being described is, it’s almost like the way geese fly. They will honk, and egg on the bird at the front who might be stronger that week, but if they aren’t feeling so strong, they can fall back and someone else will take over.

“So in this group setting, someone can be much stronger and much more able to carry on in their recovery.”

Family and friends of those with addiction issues and those in recovery are also free to attend the meetings, and it is hoped a Smart meeting especially for them will be set up soon.

Unlike many other recovery programmes, Smart meetings are peer led, and participants even have the chance to train as a Smart facilitator.

Already, 15 people in Fife have completed their training, with a further four currently in the process.

Stew Talbot is one of those in recovery who has completed the training.

He came to DAPL on a placement as part of the Addication Worker Trainer Programme.

He said: “I’m exceptionally passionate about Smart. It is all about empowerment, and supporting and enabling people to tackle their own addictions.

“Smart believes and I believe that everyone has the power within them to overcome their issues, and we can all support each other and help each other to do this.”

He added: “Over the last year, it has built up, and you can see people take a lot out of it, whether they come for a year, or whether they come for a couple of weeks to get some ideas, it doesn’t matter, all that matters is that people are getting support and help when they need it.”

Lisa Sturrock has been attending the Leven meetings for the last year, and has been in recovery from a drug addiction for 28 months.

She is in the process of training to be a facilitator, and told the Mail: “Smart has helped me to maintain my abstenance and I get a lot out of it.

“At the beginning I was nervous about coming and didn’t think it would be for me, and I definitely didn’t think I’d be here a year later!

“But it has given me a lot more confidence, and becoming a Smart facilitator is a new chapter in my life.”

Smart groups take place in Dunfermline (Monday & Thursday), Leven (Tuesday & Wednesday), and Kirkcaldy (Wednesday & Friday), with a new meeting starting in Adamson Hospital in Cupar tomorrow (Thursday).

For more, call DAPL on 01333 42277 or go to

Helping Those In Need

Two people who are currently attending the Smart recovery meetings at DAPL shared their experiences with the Mail.

One woman first decided to join the programme after completing 30 days of sobriety.

She said: “I have been trying to stop drinking for a long time. I used to live elsewhere in a small community, and although they had a similar service there, I had quite a high profile job and it just wasn’t the right time for me to do it.

“I recently moved, and just felt that this would be a new start.

“It was quite hard for me to stop, it was a big step, but it has been a really positive one.

“I’ve found the group really helpful and being around other people who understand - although we’re different - is really helpful. I feel like Smart is much more helpful because its proactive - it’s like a mini tutorial on how to cope with the pressures and urges.”

Another lady has been attending the meetings for just two weeks, after managing to stay sober for just over five weeks.

She told the Mail: “The Smart group was recommended to me as something which I might find helpful, and a way I could help other people as well. Obviously, everyone is different, but it’s all addiction, and if they’re struggling, I can maybe help and if I am, they could help me too.

“In the past I have had one-to-one help, but that support is really for things I’ve dealt with already and things which actually triggered my addiction, so now it’s all about dealing with things on a day to day basis and this group really helps with that.

“There is no pressure on individuals to come to the group - it’s your choice if you want to take part. It’s your aims and your goals, you’re not pushed to do anything. Ultimately, whether you meet your goals is down to the person. They’re just here to help and support you.”