Most people have heard the term “support group”, know someone who is in one, or have attended one themselves. If you have never attended a support group, you may be wondering what exactly they are and how they work. Generally speaking, support groups are meant as an outlet for people struggling with the same issues to vent, share stories, and receive advice. Typically, support groups focus on physical or mental health issues, such as types of addictions, diseases like breast cancer, or trauma-related topics.
For anyone suffering from addiction or alcoholism, support groups are often a huge part of maintaining their sobriety. This is because individuals are able to relate to other people who suffer from the same issues as them. As a result, individuals realize that they are not alone in their struggles and that other people have successfully recovered from addiction to alcohol or drugs. Additionally, the mutual support and lack of judgment that people receive while in support groups tend to boost one’s self-esteem in regards to their journey in recovery.
The Benefits of Recovery Support Groups
Whatever form of support group an individual chooses, they will be able to discuss their problems with people who share similar concerns. As a result, people in support groups are able to give and receive advice on how to cope with their issues. On the other hand, some people may think that their issues are not “that bad”. When people with this view attend support groups, they typically begin to relate with others in the group, leading them to realize that their own struggles are valid as well.
While there are endless benefits of attending a support group, here are a few examples:
- End feelings of isolation in regards to your struggle
- Regaining control of your thoughts and feelings
- Learning from others who have experienced the same struggles as you
- Surrounding yourself with people who don’t judge
- Being able to talk openly about your feelings and experiences
- Relieving stress, anxiety, and depression
- Gaining a new perspective on your issues and struggles
- Getting referrals for treatment or additional support
- Preventing relapse or learning new coping mechanisms
There are many different forms of support groups that are available. Fortunately, most support groups are free with occasional requests for optional donations. For alcoholics and addicts, there are plenty of different kinds of support groups that follow different guidelines and principles. All you have to do is find a support group that works for you and get involved!
Why Should I Join a Support Group?
If you are in recovery from addiction or alcoholism, joining a support group is a great way to improve on your sobriety. Many recovering addicts and alcoholics still have many questions about their substance abuse, coping strategies, and how to stay sober long-term. Additionally, you may feel alone or isolated due to your struggles with substance abuse. If you wish to reduce feelings of isolation and stay in control of the maintenance of your recovery, joining a support group would be a good place to start.
After becoming a member of a support group, you will have the ability to lean on other people who have gone through similar issues as a result of their addictions. In doing so, you can become stronger and better able to cope with situations that may arise. Additionally, while in a support group for substance abuse you will hear people speak who are knowledgeable about addiction and how to recover. This will allow you to take better care of yourself during recovery and learn more about the disease you suffer from. However, it is important to take into consideration that support groups should not make up your entire recovery. Support groups should always be used in conjunction with or as a supplement to medication therapy and addiction treatment, as well as attending professional therapy or counseling.
Types of Substance Abuse Recovery Support Groups
Since addiction and alcoholism are so widespread, there are a variety of different support groups out there for those who are affected by substance abuse. Each type of support group is valid and effective when individuals actively participate and engage themselves in these programs.
12 Step Support Groups
One of the most popular forms of substance abuse support groups is 12 step programs. This type of support group is so popular because it is typically woven into treatment plans at rehab centers worldwide. However, it is difficult to determine the effectiveness of these support groups because they are run and held anonymously in order to protect their member’s identities. Still, 12 step support groups are prevalent in the addiction and alcohol recovery realm since as early as 1935 and have helped millions of people.
12 step support groups work and rely on a set of 12 principles and guidelines on how to recover from and live your life after addiction or alcoholism. The 12 steps used in these support groups are intended to allow recovering addicts and alcoholics to live happy, peaceful, and substance-free lives. There are many different types of 12 step support groups, each one being specific to the substance that it’s members were addicted to.
Common 12-step support groups for substance abuse:
- AA- Alcoholics Anonymous
- NA- Narcotics Anonymous
- CA- Cocaine Anonymous
- CMA- Crystal Meth Anonymous
- MA- Marijuana Anonymous
- HA- Heroin Anonymous
Each 12 step group relies on the same set of principles and steps in order to recover. However, the only difference is what type of substance the members were addicted to. Additionally, there are other forms of 12 step groups for any type of addiction you can think of.
Alternatives to 12 Step Support Groups
While 12 step groups are the most popular support groups for recovering addicts and alcoholics, there are plenty of alternatives. Many people choose an alternative form of support group because they align more with their personal beliefs and needs. If 12 step meetings are not for you, do not worry, there are plenty of other options!
Common alternatives to 12 step support groups:
- SMART Recovery – focuses on self-empowerment and improvement
- Women for Sobriety – specific to women and contains 13 guidelines for living a sober life
- S.O.S – focuses on sobriety, responsibility, and confidentiality
- LifeRing Secular Recovery – founded by the belief that people can recover from addiction based on self-will and improvement
- Moderation Management – rather than abstinence, this group teaches people how to moderate their drinking
Whichever recovery support group you become active in, you will begin to benefit in all areas of your life. Support groups for addiction and alcoholism recovery are heavily recommended to be utilized as relapse prevention and a self-improvement tool. If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction or alcoholism, joining a support group could provide you with insight, education, and coping tools in regards to your recovery.