Drug Addiction Support Groups: How They Aid In Recovery
Drug addiction support groups aid in recovery by offering support through the value of small groups who are confronting similar situations.
Support groups exist to help guide others that are going through or have had similar experiences. The people who join these groups are there to offer their support. They share their personal story in the hopes that it can provide comfort or support for others.
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A therapy group will normally consist of men and women who are looking to overcome similar issues and addictions. Some of the most common types of addictions include:
Becoming addicted means that one is fully dependent on a certain substance and is unable to stop taking it without feeling the effects of withdrawal.
Self-help support groups are created by volunteers who have gone through similar scenarios. This type of support group is often referred to as a peer support group and is always managed and operated by its members.
Professionally operated support groups are created by licensed professionals such as social workers or psychologists. The creator or leader of the support group will control the discussions and any other activities. These groups are typically held in addiction treatment centers and may require a membership fee.
Open support groups are generally open to the public and allow anyone to participate. The typical AA meeting would fall under an open support group.
Closed support groups are based on criteria that have to be met before a person can take part. Often, these groups will put a limit on how many people can join.
These four addiction recovery support groups are the most popularized, but there are many other forms of addiction therapy available. Listed below are just a few:
- Gender-Specific meetings
- LGBTQ counseling
- Language-based counseling for those from different countries
- Online substance abuse sessions from the comfort of your home
- Narcotics / Alcohol Anonymous meetings
- Al-anon counseling for family members who want to participate
Other Forms of Addiction Therapy
Meetings can take many forms. Some are open to participants only and some follow an occupancy rule. Others allow their family members and friends to attend such as al-anon gatherings. There are even meetings that cater to a specific group of individuals such as males, females, or the LGBTQ community.
These meetings are tailored to help specific individuals by focusing on the interactions of each member and their feelings and concerns. An addiction recovery support group is there to encourage. That cannot be done if members are a distraction and are not offering support. Sometimes there is a need for women to discuss personal matters without the opinion of a male in the room.
The same goes for the LGBTQ community; they should have a safe space in which they can discuss topics straight men and women do not usually debate. It gives a chance for one to discuss something without the interruption of men or women and their opinions and vice versa.
These groups are similar to counseling sessions tailored for a close family of people who have substance use problems. They would attend an al-anon meeting in an effort to show support and understanding.
These specific programs benefit individuals as they can target certain aspects of their life that need focus and renewal. Those in addiction recovery support groups join to accept their fears and struggles. While many attend support groups for the benefit of themselves, many of these stories offer coping strategies others will find helpful.
The 12-Step Program VS The SMART-Recovery Tool
Starting your journey to recovery, you should have heard of the 12-step program and the SMART-Recovery tool. What exactly are they and how do they help?
What is The Typical 12-Step Program?
There are no solid 12 steps. There are no written rules, but a guideline for every AA member to follow. The suggestion is to focus on the steps that work best for you in your journey. There may be a few common steps followed by AA members, but most make their own rules.
In a 12-step program, steps one can take include:
- Recognizing and admitting your addiction problem
- In-depth self-observation of the behaviors that promoted your addiction
- Surrendering to the fact that your addiction exists and deciding to seek control of it
- Awareness of self-restraint to addiction and the chance of improvement
- Recognizing your self-acceptance and the ability to change behaviors
- Memorizing tools that make the process a continual practice towards recovery
- Having compassion towards those who are affected by addiction
The idea is to repeat the steps you falter in and identify those risks and struggles. In a 12-step program, the key is to focus on the accountability of oneself and learn to become motivated. There is one key factor in being able to attend an AA meeting: there has to be a desire in the member to stop drinking.
Every individual attending an addiction recovery support group will create their path to success. In a drug addiction support group, anonymity is important. Each group that is meeting should be autonomous except in matters affecting their group.
In addiction therapy, anonymity is the spiritual foundation reminding members to place principles before the character. It’s a form of independence that the group has and allows them to be creative. The point of anonymity in therapy is to keep everything that is shared within the group meeting anonymous to those on the outside.
How Does It Work?
In short, the traditional 12-step addiction recovery support group:
- Will meet weekly, or only as needed
- Is led by volunteer members who share similar experiences
- Is reliant on member participation including talking and listening
- Encourages members to find a sponsor or mentor who can provide extra support and guidance outside of the weekly meeting
- Is typically only for members, but sometimes allows family or friends to take part
The idea of these sessions is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Sharing your experiences in a group can help you face and work through your issues without turning to drugs and alcohol.
What is The SMART Recovery Tool?
SMART Recovery is a popular alternative to traditional 12-step programs. This tool is based on a four-step process that uses cognitive therapy.
Cognitive therapy is to challenge the negative patterns of thought about the self and the world. In short, it challenges one’s negative thoughts and behavioral patterns.
The SMART Recovery approach focuses on changing one’s thinking strategy to alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders. This is done by:
- Building and maintaining motivation
- Coping with urges
- Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
- Living a balanced life
The process of SMART Recovery includes trained volunteers who work with participants to identify specific behavioral patterns that need to change. These trained volunteers work with addiction recovery support groups to aid in the recovery of drugs or alcohol. While working with members, volunteers will also encourage self-discipline and self-reliance.
The idea of this recovery tool is to determine which strategies are most effective. With new research, this tool is continually updated and matched to individual needs.
Recovery is an ongoing process and addiction recovery support groups encourage the course and after. This helps individuals live healthy lifestyles while remaining drug and alcohol-free.
Support Groups & Their Results
Addiction recovery support groups intend to show their support from the beginning. They are there to encourage a group.
In a group, an individual can find the solid support they need from an unsuspecting male or female. The feedback from other group members may deter you from addiction by putting a scenario into perspective.
In addiction recovery support groups, it’s important to get to know the sponsor as they will guide the member on days when a meeting will not occur. Meeting at a set time during the week will also provide a sense of routine for the member. This helps members maintain their momentum and avoid relapse.
Two last deciding factors:
- While addiction recovery support groups may be anonymous, they are not fully private. People who are reluctant to share their challenges with others may consider individual counseling. This will offer the anonymity and privacy they are craving.
- Some programs, such as the 12-step program, focus on religious or spiritual undertones. Their 12-steps were created in 1938 and came from spiritual, Christian inspiration. If you are not religious or spiritual, it may be beneficial to seek a different form of therapy.
Support groups have been routinely successful forms of addiction treatment and they continue to improve as new data is researched.
Speaking among others and sharing your troubles with someone who has similar experiences allows for a special connection. This special connection between individuals and their support for one another can help aid in the recovery process more than you know.
Please contact us at Behavioral Health Centers to find a solution for you and your addiction today!