25 in 25 Volunteer Spotlight: Jonathan von Breton

Throughout SMART’s 25th anniversary year, culminating in our National Conference September 20–22 in Chicago, we will honor volunteers representing many types of individual service.


Jonathan (aka JvB in our online community) has been a SMART Recovery volunteer for over 20 years.  

“Jonathan helped SMART Recovery achieve many milestones over the years, but if asked where he had the greatest impact, I think I’d have to say it was helping to create and maintain our SMART Recovery Online (SROL) Community”, shared Shari Allwood, former Executive Director of SMART Recovery. “Jonathan volunteered to help with SROL from the very beginning. His leadership in the growth and development of the online community was exceptional. His combined ability to assist with facilitating meetings, working with the volunteers, and his personal and professional background helped get us where we are today, with a vibrant 24/7 chat room, multiple daily online meetings, and highly active message boards”, she continued.

Jonathan’s experience with addiction dates back 35 years when he decided to cease drinking and heavy marijuana use. He had struggled with these addictions for years. The SMART Recovery program did not exist back then, so he made use of the only available option for peer support – 12-Step programs.

Before he stopped drinking and smoking marijuana, Jonathan dropped out of college. He was “so stoned that he did not realize he only had 2 courses left to finish his degree”. Once in recovery, he successfully completed his BA in Sociology and then went on to earn an MA in Counseling.

While pursuing his MA, he worked at a treatment center that used a watered-down version of REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy). As he read about REBT and saw how effective it was where he worked, he decided to study with its founder, Albert Ellis, and eventually obtained Clinical Supervisor status in REBT.

Jonathan became familiar with Rational Recovery (RR), the predecessor of SMART Recovery at the World Congress on Mental Health Counseling in 1990. As RR was based on REBT, it made far more sense to him than the 12-Step programs and he got involved with RR as a meeting facilitator.

When SMART decided to launch its online presence, complete with message boards and online meetings, Jonathan’s education and work experience made him the ideal candidate to serve as in the volunteer role of Professional Advisor for the fledgling SROL Community.

Throughout the next 20 years, Jonathan enjoyed counseling positions with various organizations, as well as private practice counseling individuals with mental health and addiction issues, all while juggling the demands of a highly active volunteer role in the SMART Online Community. He is confident that SMART meetings not only helped him maintain his recovery but has also witnessed tens of thousands of people benefit from the 4-Point Program® and tools.

“I think it’s safe to say anyone who saw Jonathan performing training or making presentations at SMART Recovery Conferences will remember the experience! Jonathan always had the highest marks of any speaker at our conferences – he’s gifted with an audience”, stated Roxanne Allen, Board Member of SMART Recovery.  “Jonathan has also performed onsite SMART training for treatment professionals, and has provided Facilitator Training in Scotland and Ireland, helping SMART to grow internationally.  In fact, he helped to create the two-day onsite training program that remains in use today”.

As a student and colleague of Dr. Albert Ellis, Jonathan tends to be straightforward. Here’s a Jonathan quote for all to enjoy:

“I strongly prefer science, logic and reason. Science, logic and reason may not be perfect, but they’re a lot better than the magical thinking I see out there. 


Do reason, logic and science give me a sense of comfort? You bet your sweet ass they do!”

For many years Jonathan facilitated two weekly SMART Recovery online meetings.  He’s cut back recently as he attends to some pressing health concerns, but he can still be found responding to message board posts and volunteers, providing encouragement and teaching the SMART tools.  He also maintains an active presence on Facebook, where he shares SMART and REBT insights on a regular basis.

We wish Jonathan all the best as he undergoes radiation treatment for early stage lung cancer. There is high-hope that the treatment will resolve the issue, as it was caught early.

Congratulations, Jonathan for the hard-earned and well-deserved recognition!

About the 25 in 25 Volunteer Recognition Program

The heart of SMART’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2019 is the story of an extraordinary community of volunteers who have built a world-wide organization devoted to supporting individuals recovering from addiction and their family members and friends. These volunteers include addiction scientists and treatment professionals who designed a self-empowering 4-Point Program® and joined people with the experience of recovery and trained them to lead mutual support group meetings.

Together they have created and refined a peer-professional mutual-support group model that combines the best science for treating addiction with the lived experience of recovering from addiction – the world’s largest and only community of this kind with more than 3,000 group meetings in 23 countries. Each year, participants in these groups help each other recover at more than 150,000 meetings, in-person and online, led by volunteers trained how to use the SMART program.

Throughout SMART’s 25th anniversary year, culminating in our National Conference September 20–22 in Chicago, we will honor volunteers representing many types of individual service.

Click here to nominate a deserving individual.

Click here to learn more about the program and to see all who have been recognized.

About SMART Recovery

Founded in 1994, SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) uses science-based techniques that have proven to be effective in helping people recover from addiction problems involving any substance or behavior, including such things as alcohol, drugs, gambling, over-eating, shopping and internet use.

Each week, many thousands of people discuss recovery progress and challenges at more than 3,000 in-person meetings in 23 countries, daily online meetings and 24/7/365 internet message board forums and chat rooms.

Participants use SMART to assume responsibility for their own recovery and become empowered using its 4-Point Program®: building motivation; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors; and living a balanced life.

For more information, please visit www.smartrecovery.org.

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