Support Groups for Drug Addiction
Very few drug addicts recover completely on their own. The overwhelming majority of people succeed by seeking help and surrounding themselves with positive influences. By providing constant guidance and encouragement, support groups can be an invaluable resource for people on the road to recovery.
What Is a Support Group?
In many cases, social support and connections can make or break a person’s recovery. People with strong, supportive networks are more likely to overcome relapses and resist triggers, while people without these connections are more vulnerable to falling back into their old ways. But for addicts taking their first steps to sobriety, establishing these relationships can be tricky, since they might not know anyone that’s supportive of their recovery or knows what it’s like to live with addiction. Support groups can fill that gap. If you would like to find a local drug addiction support group in your area, you can try our Meeting Finder.
In a support group, people struggling with addictions come together to share their stories and learn from each other’s experiences. By participating in these groups, recovering addicts get the empathy and encouragement they need, but may not have had access to in the past.
The Different Types of Support Groups
Every support group shares one common goal: connecting addicts seeking recovery, so they can encourage each other on the path to sobriety. But the structure of these groups and the target markets they hope to reach can be radically different.
Many addiction groups follow a 12-step model, which dictates that participants follow a prescribed set of actions intended to help turn their lives around. The 12-step model was founded with Alcoholics Anonymous, but now the model has been expanded to assist with all sorts of addictions. To date, the 12-step model is the most well-documented form of support group, as it tends to be the format that’s followed by most treatment facilities.
However, some people are uncomfortable with the religious overtones of the 12-step model, as it involves accepting the presence of a “higher being.” So other groups, including Secular Organizations for Sobriety and Women for Sobriety, were designed to help recovering addicts who were wary of these spiritual components.
Other groups, including SMART Recovery, were developed for people who find that messages of empowerment are most likely to help them heal. These groups emphasize self-empowerment and self-reliance, and teach participants how to cope with urges. Recovering addicts should look for groups that fit their personality and goals.
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Why Do Support Groups Work?
It’s clear that support groups can have a remarkable impact on people struggling with addictions. But because of research limitations, it’s tough to identify exactly why these programs work. Experts theorize that support groups are so successful because they:
- Invoke a spiritual awakening that puts addicts in touch with the divine
- Provide a source of inspiration to heal
- Increase participants’ senses of responsibility
- Increase participants’ community involvement
- Provide a sober activity that can fill the time
Any or all of these aspects are vital in the recovery process, as most people who make the time to go to meetings experience real and overwhelming benefits. The sense of community reduces isolation, and can provide encouragement when things get hard, and understanding and compassion if relapses occur.
There’s no telling how long a person should attend support meetings, as recovery takes a lifetime to maintain. We encourage all addicts in recovery to stay connected with a support group in the years that follow their initial recovery. Support groups can help you stay involved with the culture of recovery, so you’ll remember the lessons you learned during any treatment programs you attended. By working and talking with groups, you can continue to address new challenges that arise and threaten your sobriety, and also provide your own experience and support to those new to their own recovery journey.
To learn more about support groups, or other, more intensive treatment options available for addiction, contact us today, to learn more about helping yourself or your loved one on the journey toward recovery.