By Christie Flinter: 

In the past few years, many communities in Suffolk County are experiencing an increase in the number of people struggling with addiction to prescription opioids and heroin.

This includes many cases located in the Patchogue-Medford area. Many members of our community do seek inpatient treatment if they can afford it, but they need the help of their communities when they get out. Community support is a vital part of the recovery process for both those struggling with addiction as well as their families.

Families may feel alone, but support is available. Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Nar-Anon offer a “12 –step” based approach and are offered at a variety of churches and community centers all over Suffolk County.

These support groups have been around for many years and are helpful to many, but may not be effective for those who do not share the same values or beliefs. While alternative approaches are lacking in number, one possibility is Self-Management and Recovery Training or SMART.    

SMART is an interactive workshop where members can learn tools and techniques to lead a healthier lifestyle in all stages of the recovery process. SMART workshops are based off of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy or REBT.

Put into simpler terms, facilitators train individuals to change negative thinking patterns that can lead to unhealthy behaviors and perpetuate the cycle of addiction. Participants learn new ways of thinking that are positive and productive, which will in turn lead to healthier behaviors and emotional responses.

SMART Recovery operates based on a four point program that includes building and maintaining motivation, coping with urges, managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and living a balanced life.

The workshops include a combination of exercises, discussions, education, activities, and peer support. Unfortunately, SMART Recovery meetings are far and few between. There are not many active meetings in Suffolk County at this time. The good news is that Patchogue-Medford Library is one of the community-based organizations offering these meetings free of charge.

Patchogue-Medford Library has four different SMART Recovery meetings that run throughout the week. SMART Recovery, SMART Family & Friends, SMART Teen and Youth, and SMART Recovery with Information on Co-Occurring Disorders are offered on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings.

A full schedule with dates, times, and an in depth description of each workshop are available on the Patchogue-Medford Library website and by calling 631-654-4700. A one-on-one mental health and substance abuse resource and referral service is also available by appointment to assist with locating treatment centers and learning more about the services that are available in the community. 

Patchogue is a beautiful community that represents hope and unity. It’s important for everyone to work together during difficult times. Assisting and including people of all races, ethnicities, religions, ages, genders, and sexual orientations, the SMART Recovery program at Patchogue-Medford Library is the first step to getting people the help that they need.

Christie Flinter is a crisis worker at Patchogue-Medford Library on East Main Street.

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