Support groups can be an extremely beneficial supplement to addiction treatment and an effective part of substance abuse recovery.
What Are Support Groups?
Support groups, also called mutual-help groups, self-help groups, and peer support, are programs where addicts can come together and discuss their recovery journeys in a safe space. These programs are not professional treatment options, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Most drug addiction treatment programs encourage patients to participate in a self-help group during and after formal treatment.”
What Do Support Groups Offer?
Members of support groups often have access to meetings where they can interact with other recovering individuals as well as learn a credo or list of steps to follow when going through recovery. With the help of one of these programs, many individuals are able to
- Strengthen their social network
- Create a plan for recovery that works for them
- Connect with individuals who have experienced similar issues
- Receive immediate help that is flexible toward their schedule
Support groups often help to extend the benefits of professional treatment by giving members a constant reminder of their decision to stop abusing drugs and by helping them stay in touch with others who want to see them succeed in their recovery.
Do Support Groups Cost Anything?
No. Most programs provide members with literature and allow them to come to meetings completely free of charge. In addition, as stated by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “People can attend MHGs as frequently and for as long as they want without insurance and without divulging personal information.”
What Kinds Of Support Groups Are There?
In general, there are two types of support groups: 12-step based and non-12-step based. The first are some of the most easily recognizable programs such as
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Cocaine Anonymous
- Crystal Meth Anonymous
- Dual Recovery Anonymous
- Marijuana Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
These programs utilize the 12-step method and regular attendance at meetings to help members stop using addictive substances and stay sober (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Other programs like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon exist for the families and loved ones of addicts to meet with one another.
Though the 12-step program can be changed slightly to fit a person’s specific situation, many people prefer other approaches to addiction recovery. These can be found in non-12-step based associations such as
- SMART Recovery
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety
- Women for Sobriety
- LifeRing Secular Recovery
- Moderation Management
These programs often focus on self-actualizing steps toward recovery rather than the 12-step based concept that one must give themselves over to a higher power in order to recover. In addition, some programs like Moderation Management attempt to help people cut back on their drinking rather than stopping completely.