Finding Addiction Recovery Support Groups
Support groups can play an important role in remaining sober after you leave rehab. While therapy is an important part of understanding the roots of your addiction and conquering it, following up with support groups can continue on the lessons you learned during therapy. These communities will aid against the sense of loneliness that many people feel when they’re stuck in a life full of drugs and alcohol.
For many recovering addicts, finding a support group is the most important step many have taken toward remaining sober. Isolation can be extremely damaging and has strong effects on addiction, but being in a support group will reduce that isolation. However, it is possible to still be isolated even while you are within a group! This is why it is important that you find the right one, to fit your post-rehab needs.
Options for support groups
A number of various types of support groups are in place, any of which you may gain access to and receive help for your addiction. These include:
A support group with an emphasis on self-empowerment, participants learn and gain tools to deal with their addictions through methods based on the latest scientific research. SMART Recovery boasts a worldwide community that helps people with all types of addiction, including drug abuse, alcoholism, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, prescription drug abuse, sex addiction, and problems with any other substances or activities. Meetings are held both face-to-face and online on a 24-7 message board. Find out more here.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety
This is a nonprofit network that is made up of autonomous, non-professional local groups. It is dedicated to assisting people reach sobriety and maintaining abstinence from alcohol, drug, food and other addictions based on a secular, irreligious approach. You can reach their website here.
LifeRing Secular Recovery places its emphasis on abstinence and personal growth. This support group takes an approach of developing, refining and sharing each other’s personal stories in order to maintain abstinence after rehab, and creating a rewarding and fulfilling life long after recovery. This is a secular and self-directed group. Click here to see their website.
Women for Sobriety
A nonprofit organization that focuses on women in order to help them recover from alcohol, drug, and other forms of addiction. It brands itself as “the first national self-help program for women alcoholics.” This organization totes a “New Life” Program that aids women in reaching sobriety and staying clean after recovery. Their groups can be found across the country. Click here to find out more.
12-Step support groups
Twelve step groups are based on a set of guiding principles in order to recover from addictive or behavioral problems. This is a very widely used method that has been adapted for many different compulsive, addictive or mental health problems.
These groups are otherwise known as international mutual aid fellowships with the specific aim of helping addicts to stay clean and to help other people stay free from addiction. The twelve step program develops you both spiritually and in your character.
How the 12-step process works
Summarized by the American Psychological Association, the twelve step process includes the following steps:
- Admitting that you can’t control your addiction or compulsion;
- Recognize that a higher power can give you strength;
- Examine your past errors with the guidance of a sponsor (an experienced member);
- Make amends for those errors;
- Learn how to live a new life with a new code of behavior;
- Assist others who have the same form of addiction or compulsion.
Be aware that there is a certain amount of controversy involved with the twelve-step program. They have been criticized for embracing and promoting pseudoscience with their methods and treatments, because their methods often fail to stand up to peer-reviewed scrutiny (an essential step of the scientific method), as well as for tying religion into their process.
The following is a list of 12-step drug and substance abuse support groups, provided by SAMHSA:
- Alcoholics Anonymous: specializes in recovery from alcohol addiction, includes regular attendance at group meetings
- Cocaine Anonymous: specializes in recovery from cocaine addiction, includes regular attendance at group meetings
- Crystal Meth Anonymous: specializes in recovery from crystal meth addiction, includes regular attendance at group meetings
- Dual Recovery Anonymous: specializes in recovery from co-occurring chemical and emotional/psychological illnesses, and includes regular attendance at group meetings
- Marijuana Anonymous: specializes in recovery from marijuana addiction with regular attendance at group meetings
- Narcotics Anonymous: specializes in recovery from general drug addictions with regular attendance at group meetings
- SMART Recovery: focuses on a broad range of different types of addiction and teaches participants how to alter self-defeating thinking, emotions and actions
- Al-Anon Family Groups: specializes on the family and friends of recovering addicts who are affected by someone else’s addiction, includes regular attendance at group meetings
- Nar-Anon: another group that focuses on family and friends who are affected by the actions of an addict, with an emphasis on the spiritual (not religious) parts of recovery
More tips on choosing the right support group
Wait to make any conclusions about a specific support group and whether it will be helpful to you until you have attended at least several meetings of the group. Many people suggest that it takes around six to eight visits before you can know for sure if the group is a good fit. Do not be misled by your initial reactions or a first impression.
Do not assume that you’re familiar with the norms. Addiction support groups often work very differently that other types of groups, such as Bible study gatherings. It might take you some time before you catch on to what is appropriate.
Recovery groups are not a magical solution; they are a tool, and you must use it. It will not “do” the recovery for you. The tool will help you, but you must reach for it and use it in the way it was meant to be used.
Lastly, keep coming back. There could be many times when it feels as if the group is not helping. An inner voice tells you that you will never change, that your problems are different or worse than everyone else’s. It is hard, but you must carry on with it. Recovery is a lifelong process.