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Drug and alcohol abuse support groups are designed to
help individuals recover from addiction. They provide a haven where you can
receive the assistance and encouragement you need to quit using drugs and other
addictive substances, while also providing the same to other addicts. Many
studies have also leveled proof that these groups help addicts and alcoholics
navigate through recovery and rebuild their lives.
In most cases, support groups form part of a
comprehensive treatment process - including detox and rehabilitation.
Similarly, you will start on or continue with one once you leave regular
medical care in the context of the aftercare process. By joining one,
therefore, you will be able to maintain and enrich your recovery from substance
At these groups, addicts at every stage of recovery will
come together and discuss their unique experiences, sources of hope, and coping
strategies. By so doing, the group collectively helps individual members fight
addiction and overcome it over time.
Today, even the USDHHS (United Stated Department of
Health and Human Services) supports mutual support groups, labeling them as an
essential component of the addiction recovery process.
Basing its arguments on proven clinical research, the
USDHHS additionally reports that those who actively participate in these groups
will significantly increase their chances of getting clean and staying sober.
Last but not least, the support group you attend will
provide you with all the assistance and information you need to maintain your
emotional wellness and physical health. Read on to learn more about these
Defined, a support group is an organization of
individuals sharing a common disorder - such as drug addiction, anxiety, or depression.
The individuals meet every once in a while to share ideas, discuss their
experiences, and support each other emotionally.
In many cases, the support group would be led by a
proactive member with some training in providing group support and facilitating
discussions. Although formal groups are led by professional therapists
(including psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, and social workers), self-help
addiction support groups are led by laymen.
However, this does not mean that the latter is not as
effective. In fact, both types of groups are effective in the sense that they
provide helpful coping mechanism that will complement the formal medical
treatment you received at rehab.
Otherwise referred to as self-help groups, mutual aid
groups, and mutual help groups, support groups are defined by the NIAAA as an
organization of more than two individuals who share a problem or an experience
and who join to provide support and problem-specific help to each other.
In such associations, you will receive the help you need
to deal with such problems as drug and alcohol addiction, grief, loss, survival
from disaster, as well as mental disorders, among many others.
More specifically, an addiction support group will be
focused on alcohol and substance abuse - as well as on other types of
behavioral addictions. In this group, you will learn how to handle the
different issues typically associated with addiction recovery.
There are several types of addiction support groups focused
on the different kinds of compulsive behavior typical of drug, alcohol, and
substance abuse. Since addiction is more than alcohol and drugs, you should be
able to find different associations focusing on a variety of subjects.
For instance, one of the groups you attend might be
focused on your addiction to narcotics while another might work on helping
alcoholics. It is because of this reason that there are so many different kinds
of support groups in existence across the country.
In most of the treatment programs, you will undertake
while battling your addiction, your participation in a group is likely to start
from the beginning. At the early stages of your recovery, you might also start
meeting with the other substance abusers who are recovering either at an
inpatient rehabilitation facility or an outpatient treatment center.
Once you get discharged from the treatment program, you
might also continue attending support groups as part of your new life of
recovery, such as by attending the different meetings they host within your
Due to their success rate, addiction support groups
attract many former addicts - most of whom will continue participating in such
a group throughout their lives to continue their growth in recovery as well as
prevent the opportunities for a relapse.
Alternatively, you might end up attending secular and
spiritually-based programs in your community - which will also help you get
clean and start reaching up to your full potential in various spheres of life.
Most of the support groups you will come across provide
both open and closed meetings. Consider the following:
A closed meeting is only accessible to those with a
genuine desire to stop drinking alcohol or using drugs.
The general public, family members, and friends can
attend open meetings.
As you might already have observed, support groups will
provide the lifeline that your friends, children, spouse, and partners. By so
doing, the group effectively helps you deal with your chemical dependency,
while also providing those who are close to you with the mechanisms they need
to cope with your addiction and recovery.
Consider the following types of popular support
Otherwise referred to as twelve-step groups, these
programs include CMA (Crystal Meth Anonymous), (CDA) Chemically Dependent
Anonymous (CDA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA), and Narcotics Anonymous.
Most of these support groups are based on the series of
steps (12) prescribed by the twelve steps to empower you and advance your
spiritual and emotional development. Further, these 12 steps were founded
through the involvement of certain core elements. The USDHHS defines these
elements to include:
There are twelve-step addiction support groups all over
the world. Although membership is provided free of charge, you might be
encouraged to make small donations (of between $1 and $2) at every meeting.
These charges are designed to offset the snacks, coffee, and room rental.
SMART Recovery is a 4-point program that you can apply to
a wide variety of addictions, including but not limited to gambling,
alcoholism, and drug addiction. At the face to face meeting, you will learn
more about the addiction and how to counter it before it takes root in your
system. Today, there are even online support groups, as well as message groups
for those more interested in taking the internet approach to recovery.
At a SMART Recovery meeting, you will learn that most
types of chemical dependence are learned behavior/habits that you can easily
modify through the following basic cognitive tools:
To this end, SMART Recovery will provide a
self-empowerment support program which is likely to teach you how to deal with
your substance and alcohol abuse, dependence, tolerance, and addiction.
Commonly abbreviated as SOS, Save Our Selves provides
secularized alternatives for alcoholics and addicts. As such, it will help you
whenever you are looking for a way to separate your recovery from a religious
or spiritual source.
In many SOS groups, the principles will often be based on
the generally-accepted belief that addiction is your responsibility. This
eventually means that you will have to shift your priorities from addiction to
full sobriety. The other top priorities you are likely to adopt once you join
such a support group include:
In many instances, SOS meetings are designed for
autonomy. This means that the groups hardly ever follow any standardized
format. Similarly, you can find meetings in several countries and all states in
the US. As a member, you won't have to pay anything because SOS support groups
are not-for-profits sponsored by the CSH (Council for Secular Humanism).
In general, the following is a list of most of the
support groups available for recovering drug and alcohol addicts:
Some of the groups listed above are quite distinct in
their approach and membership. For instance, WFS (Women for Sobriety) is a
group that only allows female members to join and engage in discussing the
unique struggles they undergo with alcoholism. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), on
the other hand, accepts both male and female members.
Apart from the above, certain support groups exist to
allow individual members to discuss different types of addictions. In SMART
Recovery, for example, you will be able to discuss all types of addictions with
other addicts suffering from different forms of chemical and behavioral
Over and above everything else, since there are so many
different varieties of support groups, it is highly likely that you will be
able to find the right group for your particular needs.
The nature of support groups is varied. However, the
basic format is that a small group of individuals (10 or thereabouts) will meet
every once in a while to discuss their personal experiences as well as provide
each other with mutual support to overcome their addictions.
Similarly, you might find that addiction support groups
often work on certain principles which are highly likely to remain unaltered
through the years. As part of the group, you will contribute to renting the
According to the NIAAA, most of these groups work without
professional involvement. As a direct result, no member will conduct
professional treatment or therapy of any kind. Instead, sponsors run the meetings
- where a sponsor has a history of drug, substance, or alcohol abuse but isn't
necessarily licensed as a counselor.
Members attend the meetings as frequently as they prefer
without judgment or penalties. However, attendance is highly recommended especially
immediately after you join because that is the only way you might be able to
enjoy the full effect of the program.
In most cases, you are not likely to require insurance
approval or consent from a clinician to attend these types of groups. Since the
program is not based on any benefits, attendance is usually free for anyone.
This makes support groups different from professional addiction treatments
(such as detox and rehab), in the sense that the latter are usually costly.
As a member of such a group, you will be encouraged to
enjoy the support of the other members, while also providing them with support
using your own experiences and understanding of the ravages of addiction and
the vitality of treatment and recovery. This means that you are likely to get
unique opportunities to bond over your current recovery and mutual history of
drug and substance abuse.
Last but not least, you are more likely to enjoy lasting
recovery if you forge friendships with other members and support each other
beyond the group setting. It is for this reason that you might be encouraged to
pick a personal sponsor - preferably someone who has been engaging with the
program for far longer and who can come to your aid in times of trouble.
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