One of the major side effects of addiction is the isolating nature of the disease. Addiction can drive you to burn bridges in relationships, become irritable from cravings or develop a lifestyle that is incompatible with normal socializing.
Addiction steals your community, but recovery can get it back. Thankfully, there are many ways you can rebuild your social life after rehab with groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART and other local groups. Here’s what you need to know before you join one.
What are addiction recovery support groups?
Addiction recovery support groups are peer-led initiatives that capitalize on relationships as you pursue sobriety. These groups can help you find healing and meaning in your recovery with discussion, authentic community and consistency. Groups generally meet once a week or more (even meeting daily).
Many of these addiction recovery support groups try to expand their reach by making participation cost-free and having no age restrictions. While participants are called members, there are no fees, no mandatory attendance and no obligations outside of the group.
While the groups have few requirements, there is still a strict structure and rules that must be followed. These groups are all led by peers who have overcome addiction, rather than professionals.
What is the purpose of these groups?
Peer support in recovery is based on the idea that fellowship with sober individuals and those striving for sobriety can be an effective method for managing triggers to use substances and sustain life-long sobriety.
The journal Social Work in Public Health states that studies suggest that regular attendance at peer support meeting groups improves outcomes for those seeking long-term abstinence. Moreover, participation in a 12-step program increased an individual’s self-efficacy and psychosocial functioning.
While meeting attendance alone may be a marker for effectively avoiding substances, it’s also been noted that early participation in sober groups and deeper engagement is also indicative of favorable outcomes. For the best results, attend professional treatment, spend some extra time reading 12 step literature, connect with a sponsor and spend time supporting other group members.
Are recovery groups religious?
Several of these groups have religious undertones, use religious language or are based on Judeo-Christian ethics. Teachings of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous use spirituality as an asset. This strength-based perspective may be helpful for both those who practice a faith and those who don’t. It’s designed to help individuals acknowledge a power outside themselves. More secular groups tend to focus on finding internal motivation.
What addiction recovery groups are there?
There are several groups that use social support in addiction recovery to benefit all those involved. Here are the most common:
Alcoholics Anonymous: Alcoholics Anonymous, or A.A, welcomes men and women to meet to engage in healing together. The only prerequisite is that a participant must have a desire to stop drinking.
Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the most well-known and successful peer support programs. It operates in over 180 countries and is estimated to have over two million members.
Narcotics Anonymous: The goal of N.A. is that every member will be able to really consider the damage of his or her substance abuse and have the opportunity to commit to a new way of life. This peer support group for addiction recovery tends to meet in public-use facilities and has chapters in most populous areas.
Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery): SMART Recovery empowers individuals to attain sobriety by self-empowerment and emphasizes a science-based approach. They offer support for those addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling and sex. They also have a chat room that operates around the clock.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS): This group offers a secular approach to recovery from drinking, using drugs or disordered eating. Like other groups of this nature, the group and any additional resources are funded by donations.
Women for Sobriety: this non-profit organization focuses on catering specifically to women. Women face unique obstacles in recovery, as addiction is typically viewed as a man’s issue and men are statistically more likely to struggle with drug and alcohol abuse according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
This group offers in-person and online meetings, phone support and a yearly conference.
How do I get started?
It can be intimidating to start peer support for your recovery and go to a new place with new people to talk about the most difficult aspects of your life. However, addiction recovery support groups could be the key to your healing.
To get started, read up on the groups above. Once you find one that suits your needs, you’ll easily be able to find a meeting on the organization’s website. The sooner you start, the better. Don’t give yourself time to hesitate or over-think it. The decision to get started could affect the course of your life.
If you need social support as well as professional support, reach out to High Focus Centers. While peer-led meetings can increase your chances of long-term abstinence, it’s no replacement for medical or psychological care. Get what you need and reach out today.