Mental Health Association has SMART recovery group

Mark Hurst is the facilitator for the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County’s SMART Recovery group that meets at 3 p.m. on Tuesdays. The group is open to anyone who would like a non-religious approach to their substance use disorder recovery.

While Mark Hurst is a pastor, when he facilitates the SMART Recovery group at the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County, it is not religion-focused.

The Mental Health Association is a peer recovery center offering support groups and individual coaching for people looking to improve their lives, deepen wellness, thrive in recovery or support those on a recovery path. Peers use their personal stories to help people find recovery in their own lives in their own way.

For those who are not comfortable with a religion-based sobriety program, SMART (Self-Management Addiction Recovery Program) Recovery is a nationally recognized program that uses recovery methods derived from evidence-based substance use disorder treatments. It is secular and scientifically based, using non-confrontational, motivational, behavioral, and cognitive methods.

Hurst’s group uses the SMART Recovery Handbook, but participants can also discuss problems in other areas. The program helps in coping with cravings, managing negative emotions and finding a healthy life balance. While, like Alcoholics Anonymous, the ultimate goal is lifetime abstinence, unlike AA, lifetime attendance at meetings is not required.

“SMART Recovery is not a 12-step program,” Hurst said. “It takes a more scientific approach than AA or NA [Narcotics Anonymous]. People frustrated by those might find dealing with a program that uses REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) more beneficial. “

The MHA’s SMART Recovery group meets in-person and online or via phone at 3 p.m. every Tuesday. Wearing face coverings and safe distancing are part of the in-person meetings. Anyone is welcome to participate by coming to the MHA in the rear of the Gateway Center, 31 Water Street, Door 14, in Jamestown, or through the online/phone information at MHAChautauqua.org/groups. Those who would like to talk with Hurst before participating can call or text (716) 661-9044.

Certified in SMART Recovery, Hurst has been the MHA’s spiritual advisor for more than a decade. Along with Revs. Bob Hagel of First Presbyterian, Carolyn Stow of Kidder Memorial United Methodist, and Luke Fodor of St. Luke’s Episcopal Churches, he is part of the MHA’s Chapel Team that, before COVID, offered weekly non-denominational chapel services. He is also the pastor at the Lander and Chandler Valley United Methodist Churches.

More information about SMART Recovery can be found at SmartRecovery.org.

All Mental Health Association services are free. For the most current information on group meetings, visit MHAChautauqua.org/groups.

Anyone with questions or in need of services for themselves or a family member can call or text 661-9044 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

To be notified of upcoming events and changes to MHA programming, visit MHAChautauqua.org/list.

To learn more about the Mental Health Association, visit MHAChautauqua.org or facebook.com/MHAChautauqua, or check out the MHA’s spring/summer newsletter at MHAChautauqua.org/newsletters.


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