Having the right support network is essential to the addiction recovery process. Whether individuals receive treatment at a rehab centre or work with local community services to regain control of their life, support groups can be a crucial lifeline.
Here, we explore what an addiction support group is and reveal how you can find one either for yourself or a loved one struggling with substance misuse.
What are Support Groups?
Support groups are precisely that – it’s a group that is designed to offer support and advice during a situation.
Addiction support groups come in various forms and can provide that much-needed shoulder for people recovering from drug, alcohol, and behavioural addictions. It’s a support system created to help someone stay healthy and sober.
One of the most common support groups is Alcoholics Anonymous AA. However, support groups can also include family members, friends, neighbours, co-workers, therapists and members of the church.
Sometimes these groups are created as part of ongoing inpatient rehab; other times, they are set up locally and led by addiction recovery professionals.
Support groups can vary in size. The main aim is to offer individuals a safe and supportive space to share their experiences, concerns, and coping mechanisms with addiction recovery professionals and others on the same journey.
The format of each support group is led by the person running the session, however, they typically follow the same plan. A group member shares their story, and others are invited to share their worries or successes.
The sessions are non-judgmental zone, and everyone is welcome no matter the severity of the addiction.
The Benefits of Support Groups in Addiction Recovery
Studies have shown that individuals who attend support groups for addiction recovery have a much higher chance of maintaining and achieving long-term addiction recovery.
Support groups also offer that much-needed emotional support. Recovery isn’t a straightforward journey, and it’s important that individuals navigate several obstacles with some level of assistance.
It’s normal to feel scared, overwhelmed, hopeless, and sad, and expressing these feelings to the group can help to make sense of them and find a solution.
As support groups are made up of so many different people, individuals are also provided with unique perspectives and tips. Not to mention, being surrounded by experts in addiction recovery and those who are recovering or have recovered can help individuals feel like they’re not alone.
In time, individuals can also offer their own advice to new people who arrive to the group. This, in itself, will provide a feeling of growth and self-improvement.
Other benefits of addiction recovery support groups include:
● Being with people who enjoy sober activities
● Identifying new hobbies and ways of life
● An increased feeling of community and belonging
● Accountability for turning up
● Decreased feelings of isolation
● Inspiration, encouragement, and positive influence
Support groups can be very effective at preventing relapse. Regular sessions remind people of substance abuse‘s consequences and that they are in charge of their life.
Types of Support Groups for Addiction Recovery
There are several different types of groups that offer peer support for addiction recovery. Here, we explore some of the most common:
12 Step Groups
Alcoholics Anonymous AA and Narcotics Anonymous NA are two of the most well-known support groups built on the 12 steps programme.
As the name suggests, everyone in the group remains anonymous, 12 step groups are offered as part of many inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programmes and there are also regular community groups. Individuals have to work through 12 varying steps to face their addiction head on and maintain resilient recovery. All of these groups are peer-led and self-supporting.
This type of support group centres on self-empowerment. SMART stands for ‘Self management and recovery training’ and each session is often led by a trained counsellor. These groups focus on four points, including motivational enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy to help individuals to overcome their addiction. There are also online courses for this too.
There are also lots of support groups that focus on personal religious views. Whether you’re Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, for example, there are faith-led support groups that help individuals use their beliefs to power recovery. Refuge Recovery is another popular support group that uses Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path to allow individuals to adopt a proven and systematic approach to their recovery.
Choosing the Right Support Group for You
Those undergoing rehab treatment will be provided details of local support groups as part of their group therapy sessions. Alternatively, if you’re not receiving treatment for your addiction but would like to join a support group, you can speak to your GP. It’s essential to find the right support group for you. This might not always be the first group you join, but here are some questions to consider:
● Would you prefer an online or face-to-face meeting?
● How far are you willing to travel?
● Are you comfortable in large groups, or would you prefer a small group?
● Do you want a faith-led group?
● Are you looking for actionable steps to follow?
When you find a support group, it can be wise to go along and see what it is like. It’s important to note that it could take a few sessions for you to feel comfortable, but if you still don’t feel like joining in after a while, you may benefit from a new one.
You also need to ensure that the people in the group are supportive and there for the right reasons. If someone ever offers drugs or alcohol to you or says something which concerns you, remove yourself from the situation and inform the group leader.
Tips for Making the Most of a Support Group
Support groups can feel daunting and confusing, but they have been proven to aid recovery and help individuals maintain their long-term recovery. It might take a while to settle in, which is entirely normal. Try to be as open and honest as possible, participate in group discussions, listen to others, and build relationships with other group members.
If you’re struggling, tell someone. Just remember that everyone in the group, who is overcoming addiction, has likely been in the same position as you, and they might be able to offer some help. Finally, every session you go to is another step in the right direction; with dedication and perseverance, you will get your life on track and can finally turn your back on drug addiction and alcohol addiction.