SMART Recovery® on Prince Edward Island (PEI)

by Rose Barbour, SMART Recovery Facilitator from Prince Edward Island(PEI), Canada

A grunge textured digital illustration of a group of diverse hands reaching together in unity and support.While searching for different programs for my son, who didn’t connect with the 12-steps programs, I stumbled upon SMART Recovery. There were no meetings offered in my area so I signed up for the training with the plan to start one. I was excited about it because I knew that my son wasn’t the only one without a program he could relate to. SMART Recovery would give them a choice.

I shared information about SMART Recovery with Nicole Publicover. As an addictions worker at the Reach Centre (a youth recovery centre), she loved the idea of starting something new, which would give her clients a different option to try. She took the training, too, and we became the first two members of our SMART team that would grow to eight people in a short period of time. We started our first meeting in February 2015. By May, we were offering three meetings per week, including one at our provincial residential treatment facility.

Nicole and I promoted SMART Recovery at every opportunity, including through my blog (Living in the Shadows in Prince Edward Island), the Reach Centre’s website and various Facebook groups. We also had our meetings listed in the weekly self-help section of our local newspaper.

Karen Mair, the host of CBC Radio’s Mainstreet, was following our journey with SMART Recovery. She thought that her listeners might like to hear more about the program since it was something completely new to PEI. She invited us to be guests on her show. We had a wonderful interview and this really helped to spread the word about our meetings.

We were also invited to give presentations on SMART Recovery to several groups, including family support groups, the management and staff at our Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility (Addictions Services), the staff and residents at two recovery homes, and more. We welcomed every opportunity to do a presentation.

To reach our goal of growing SMART Recovery on PEI, we knew that it would be important to have a positive relationship with Addictions Services. We also needed their support in two key areas. With this in mind, we submitted a proposal, which provided information about SMART Recovery and asked for the following:

  1. that SMART Recovery be added to the list of approved meetings for their clients who have to attend a certain number of meetings per week
  2. that we be able to offer SMART Recovery meetings once per week at the provincial residential treatment centre so that clients could experience a meeting before they got out of treatment. We were delighted when both of our requests were approved.

We continued to share about SMART Recovery at every opportunity. As a result, we heard from several people who were interested in taking the Facilitator training. We held an information session so that we could tell them about SMART Recovery and answer any questions they had. We were delighted when they all registered to take the training to become SMART Recovery Facilitators. By early summer, we had eight trained Facilitators on our team and two more having just finished their training. We have truly built an amazing team of caring individuals who want to make a difference. We plan to hold another recruiting session soon.

When we were beginning our SMART Recovery journey, there were no other open meetings available east of Quebec (we are still the only ones!). This meant that if we wanted to see a SMART Recovery meeting in action, Nicole and I would have to drive 18 hours to do so! This was not possible with our busy schedules so we just had to do it. We did the meetings together in order to support each other. We liked the co-facilitator model so much that we kept it. All of our meetings have two facilitators, even though you only need one facilitator for a meeting.

The feedback has been very positive from Addictions Services, our participants and the general public who are happy that people now have a choice in programs. Being a SMART Recovery facilitator has been such a rewarding experience. We hope that other people will also take the training and start meetings so that SMART Recovery will be available across the Province and, of course, in many other areas around the world

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