If you have recently been through addiction treatment, it is likely you’ve heard the phrase, “Recovery is an ongoing process.” This can be intimidating when you’re facing life outside the support and security of a treatment center.
The good news is that even once you’ve successfully navigated treatment, you’re not going to be shipped off to fend for yourself. Recovery isn’t easy, and because of this, it’s vital that you continue to receive as much support as you need as you move into further stages of recovery. This is why recovery support groups are recommended.
Benefits of recovery support groups
Many treatment providers will suggest that clients who are newly sober attend a recovery support group in addition to therapy. Research shows that these groups are successful because they offer support that is both useful and accessible. For example, most treatment providers are closed on major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Recovery support groups, like 12-step meetings, are not.
Support groups are recommended because they allow newly sober individuals the opportunity to meet and socialize with other people who are also recently sober. Everyone is given the chance to share their stories in a supportive environment and receive inspiration by hearing the stories of others. Plus, support groups can offer a sense of hope, as it can be very encouraging to hear how far another person has come despite the odds.
Additionally, many people in early recovery need to form a new friend group in order to give their recovery the greatest chance of success. Recovery support groups are a great way of making this happen.
Types of recovery support groups
Because each person’s experience with addiction is different, it follows that support groups are not one-size-fits-all. There are various programs out there, from 12-step programs to other support group types based more heavily on personal values, like religion. In order to best sustain recovery, it’s important to find a support group that benefits you.
Most people have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These groups are commonly referred to as “12-step programs” because participants work through 12 steps in order to identify and address issues that contributed to their substance use disorder.
These 12-step programs are the most widely available support groups for substance use disorder in the United States and the world. There are also more specific, though less common, spin-offs of Narcotics Anonymous, such as Heroin Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Marijuana Anonymous.
Mutual support group
Mutual support groups typically have a trained facilitator, but they are not run by mental health or medical professionals. These groups bring together people with similar struggles in order to promote healthy discussions, provide encouragement and offer community to those who may feel alone or isolated in their experiences.
These groups are not an equivalent to therapy, but can provide a healthy outlet to talk and grow with like-minded individuals seeking a better life for themselves.
For those who prefer a more religious support group, Celebrate Recovery can be a good option. Celebrate Recovery is similar to 12-step groups in that participants work through a set of steps. However, it includes principles of Christianity and ties Bible verses into the 12-step literature.
For someone looking for a support group that doesn’t include any aspects of spirituality or religion, Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) meetings are a great option. SMART Recovery meetings teach coping skills to help participants address four main points:
- Build and maintain motivation;
- Cope with urges;
- Manage thoughts, feeling and behaviors;
- Live a balanced life.
Through the focus on these points, individuals are able to sustain recovery.
Finding a recovery support group
There are numerous ways to find a recovery support group for yourself. An online search can result in a number of local support groups suitable to your needs; your counselor or the staff at your treatment center will likely be able to recommend a number of options for you; even friends you made in treatment might have discovered a support group that you could attend together to keep each other accountable.
No matter which support group suits you, we encourage you to take the time to research and try out some options. It could provide you with important community, as well as the tools you need to maintain recovery.