25 in 25 Volunteer Spotlight: Charles True

Charles True become involved with SMART Recovery during his early days as a surviving “cocaine cowboy” in Miami Beach in the early 1980s. He managed to survive that habit to grow into an inventor and lead designer of oil field and liquids management equipment, transportation technologies and software design, in his decades as an international entrepreneur and executive.

In 1993 his life was changed by the ideas of Albert Ellis, which helped Charles alter his views on recovering from addiction, deprivation, victimhood and the Power of Choice. He benefited greatly from contact with Rob Sarmiento, as well as Ruth Fowler, a Houston facilitator who inspired him and many others to get involved in a more assertive way in the SMART Recovery movement. In his early days, he worked with several 12-step recovery programs, as well as with Rational Recovery.

He has started and supported scores of recovery meetings in Houston and many countries around the world, and has inspired other people to take facilitator training and start meetings in the area.

Charles has facilitated and co-facilitated the meeting at the Montrose Counseling Center in Houston for years.

He also supported in-facility meetings in the fabled Menninger Clinic in Houston, consistently ranked among the top five mental health hospitals in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report based on quality of care. Many employees of the Menninger Clinic have taken the SMART Recovery Facilitator Training course, lending significant credibility to SMART Recovery. Charles claims that this occurred not because of him, but in spite of him.

Charles and fellow successful entrepreneur Ron Lott approached the director of volunteers at a Houston area prison about allowing them to run an InsideOut: A SMART Recovery Correctional Program® meeting. Impressed with the program, the director of volunteers had to get approval from Texas Department of Criminal Justice authorities. After six weeks of follow-up, Charles and Ron received permission to launch a meeting and to introduce InsideOut throughout the state prison system.

The original InsideOut Program developed by a grant from NIDA around 2000-2001 was designed for a 24-week program. Charles and Ron modified this program into a 12-meeting InsideOut Program for jail court programs and prisons where inmates have longer program exposure. They added a Life Skills Training Module developed from their corporate executive experience to cover such skills as job acquisition and finances. To gauge how well inmates embraced their adopted life skills and latched onto the self-empowerment aspects of SMART Recovery, Charles and Ron employed the locus of control concept.

Click here to learn more about and purchase the recent book published by Charles True and Ron Lott: Successful Life Skills, A Meeting-Ready Format for InsideOut® Meetings in a Correctional Environment

Today, between 30 and 70 inmates attend weekly meetings, and more meetings will be added as new facilitators are trained for the program. SMART Recovery recently introduced workbooks and facilitator guides for the jail and prison versions of the InsideOut Program.

In recognition of their success, Charles and Ron have been granted full access to Texas prison facilities.

Charles was recognized as Regional Coordinator in Texas, based in the Houston area in 2018. Charles deserves recognition as a very successful and enthusiastic SMART facilitator, advocate, innovator and, in the words of SMART founding president Joe Gerstein, M.D., an icon.

Thanks to Charles True for driving our InsideOut Program to new heights!

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