Crucial Developments Regarding InsideOut: A SMART Recovery Correctional Program®

by Joe Gerstein, M.D., FACP

A number of crucial developments regarding InsideOut Program: A SMART Recovery Correctional Program®  have recently occurred that we would like to share with you.

About InsideOut: A SMART Recovery Correctional Program®

InsideOut SMART RecoveryInsideOut is the correctional version of the SMART Recovery Program. It was developed by a private company under a license from SMART Recovery with a $1,000,000 grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). An effective, science-based correctional program is certainly an important element in the drive to reduce the devastating rate of recidivism and reoffending. Both of the outcomes often follow the incarceration of criminals who were either addicted or committed crimes under the influence of addicting substances.

The InsideOut Program contains a Workbook for inmates, a Facilitator Manual keyed to the Workbook and videos (that won a Telly Award) keyed to both Manuals. There are video DVDs for male and female facilities. InsideOut is a “turnkey” program in that the Facilitator can easily review the chapter in his or her manual before the appropriate meeting thereby reducing their individual training time.

Click here to read more about InsideOut: A SMART Recovery Correctional Program®.

As with anything, there are challenges. The budgets of prisons are notoriously tight. Although InsideOut is now used in over 200 prisons worldwide, sustaining it, even with modest cost has been difficult.

Despite this challenge, this program has experienced great success across the country. Read about some of the most newsworthy recent successes below.

Recent Success Stories About InsideOut: A SMART Recovery Correctional Program®

1) The latest prison to adopt the program was Swakopmund Prison, Namibia!

2) We were honored to be included in a study involving 6,000 Australian prison inmates with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) histories. The study demonstrated a dramatic decrease in reconvictions within two years of release for those exposed to the SMART Recovery Program. The maximum beneficial result was achieved with as few as 10 meetings. The results were the same for all social groups, educational levels, types of addiction, types of crime committed, males or females, etc.

3) A pilot program has been running in two prisons in California, as an accompaniment to an aggressive Medication Assisted Pre-Release Treatment Program now being introduced.

Click here to learn more about medication-assisted treatment.

The pilot has been very successful, engendering a long waiting list of inmates. Tatyana Vaynshteyn, who facilitates the meetings depicted on the female video, accompanied me on a visit to the Corona Institution for Women, where we interacted with inmates and staff and did a brief ABC.

Click here for a quick overview of the ABCs of REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy).

4) A budget request has now been submitted by the prison authorities to introduce the InsideOut Program into 35 California prisons. The budget provides for numerous onsite training programs and many thousands of workbooks. The plan is to eventually train inmates to facilitate the InsideOut meetings, although implementation would be far in the future. Of course, the budget is subject to the approval of the legislature and governor.

5) Recently, Charles True and Ron Lott, dedicated facilitators in the Houston, TX area, decided to try to get permission to run an InsideOut Program in the local prison. They managed to get an appointment with the Pastor in charge of volunteer programs. He lamented the fact that the recidivism rate for inmates with substance use disorders (SUD) was about 90% with the program currently in use and was excited to hear that a science-based Program would be used in the proposed meeting. Copies of the InsideOut materials were provided to be submitted to the state prison authorities, whose permission was requested to begin the meeting. Charles and Ron were stunned when permission was granted to use InsideOut in the ENTIRE TEXAS PRISON SYSTEM, which houses 168,000 inmates! Two pilot meetings have started in the Houston area [the initial meeting was over-subscribed] and assuming they are successful, SMART and the local facilitators will start considering how to possibly implement a wider dissemination of InsideOut in Texas.

6) Another bombshell development was the announcement by John F. Kelly, Ph.D., Spallin Associate Professor of Addiction Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry of Harvard Medical School, of the receipt of a grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The grant is for a comparative study of attendees with a primary alcohol misuse problem, of SMART Recovery meetings or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings who are starting a new recovery attempt.
Study participants will be followed for two years with quarterly interviews and testing, which will be performed at Massachusetts General Hospital. Because of this latter requirement, participation will be limited to people attending meetings within about 50 miles of downtown Boston. The details of the study were presented at the monthly MA Facilitator Forum on September 8 and participant solicitation started at that point. There are a few RI and NH meetings within that radius, as well.

The study is calibrated to investigate not only the success rates of the programs, but the mechanisms and details of how and why any beneficial outcomes are effected, as well as the characteristics of the participants in the two programs. The plan is to enroll 174 subjects from each program.

Interested in Getting Involved?

We are certainly pleased with these amazing announcements and the progress made using our InsideOut: A SMART Recovery Correctional Program®, but there is still so much work to be done!

If you have influential contacts or have an interest in pursuing work in correctional facilities, we encourage you to do so. Please let us know how we can help. Leave a comment below or email us at

Other Helpful Resources

About SMART Recovery USA

SMART Recovery’s 4-Point Program® helps people recover from all types of addictive behaviors, including: alcohol addiction, drug abuse, substance abuse, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, and addiction to other substances and activities.

SMART Recovery sponsors face-to-face meetings around the world, and daily online meetings. In addition, our online message board and 24/7 chat room provide forums to learn about SMART Recovery and obtain addiction recovery support.

For more information, please visit

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