In the last few months at the Irvine SMART meeting many van loads of clients of various rehabs and sober living houses have been attending. These are notable for always being late and disruptive to the meeting. With the SMART outline of check in it’s difficult to accommodate late people. The biggest violator has been the folks at Solid Landings. I realize there are logistical problems of getting multiple clients together along with a driver but if you can’t get it together than you don’t go. Ironically Solid Landings is in the process of training their staff to be SMART facilitators and they know more than most how disruptive late arrivals can be. I was told a long ago that a big part of recovery was to be responsible and courteous. This is probably the fault of the facilities that do not get the drivers on time to get to the meeting. I don’t blame the attendees. Although I think there are instances when they show up on time but the clients choose to stay outside and smoke even though they are aware the meeting time has passed.
Last Sunday was particularly bad with one van load coming in at 5:55 pm. One of them commented that it was hard to hear in the back of the room but there were still open seats in the original circle of chairs. There were a few newcomers from the community that I was embarrassed for.
I ended up sending an email to a couple of the directors at Solid Landings and I hope things will get rectified. I also know that Solid Landings is presently training their staff to be SMART facilitators so they can have in house meetings and may not even need my meeting in a while. I’m also very grateful that many of the regulars have kept coming to the meeting and they are invaluable to keeping meetings running smoothly despite the chaos.
Here’s the letter I sent to the Solid Landing directors:
I am the SMART facilitator at the Sunday 5:30 pm meeting in Irvine. At my last meeting many people came in who identified themselves as clients of Solid Landings. One man came in who I recognized as one of a group. I asked him if others were coming and he replied affirmatively. He was on time but his group members didn’t show up for another 10 minutes, well after the meeting was underway. I presume in order to smoke. Other van loads piled in later, none on time. They may have been from other facilities and not just Solid Landings. The meeting started with 6 people in the room but by 6 pm there were 31. The last group arriving at 5:55 pm. This pattern of arriving late has been going on for weeks and not just the last meeting.
Note that this is very disruptive to the meeting. SMART meetings have an initial check in and when people continually come in late it’s impossible to accommodate them. Also note that this is a medical facility and smoking is not allowed, even outdoors. Continued smoking on the hospital grounds could result in me loosing use of the meeting room, not just making your clients unwelcome guests.
In the future if your clients cannot be on time with their nicotine needs met before arrival I would prefer them to not show up for the meeting. It shows a lack of courtesy to the other meeting attendees, the facility we meet at and to myself. It also diminishes the effectiveness of the meeting for everyone.
I like to consider myself an advocate for SMART recovery. The last thing I want to do is discourage attendance. The input of newcomers is invaluable. An advantage of people in rehab and sober living facilities is that many are from other parts of the country and if they like the meetings they may spread the word of SMART to other areas. Some attendees may become facilitators in the future. If it’s a transportation issue please try to get the drivers on time. Also remind your clients who want to attend of the Kaiser hospital smoking policy.