Whether upon discharge as part of an aftercare plan or while attending counseling during treatment, therapy providers encourage participation in any types of group support meetings after treatment ends to continue their recovery journey. Anyone can benefit from working with a support group, regardless of their addiction history or severity.
What are Support Groups?
Support groups are an essential component of many mental and behavioral health treatments, including addiction recovery. Meeting groups are guided by a specific leader, usually a trained counselor, social worker, or peer leader. In addiction recovery, support groups complement the work previously done while in rehab. They are not intended to (and should not) replace detox and therapy. Instead, they offer a vital support structure to maintain sobriety and recovery once your primary addiction treatment program ends.
The shared experience that links many support group participants is understanding and support. Participants may have similar experiences or have experienced similar adverse effects from chronic drug or alcohol abuse. Support groups are essential for those with few, if any, friends who have struggled with substance abuse or chosen to get sober. Addiction can be highly isolating. If a recovering addict feels as though they have no one to turn to, it can enhance depression and anxiety symptoms, often accompanying isolation and leading to relapse. Support groups can help recovering addicts realize they are not alone at any stage of recovery.
Regular attendance at support group meetings can also provide structure to create a new daily routine. It can offer a safe space away from specific triggers such as environments or friends who serve as reminders of using. Forming social bonds with people who are abstinent from drugs or alcohol means relapse is less likely and allows the opportunity to learn new, healthier coping skills from others who share a similar experience.
What are the Different Types of Group Support Meetings?
There are various support groups to choose from, but just as with substance abuse treatment models, there is no one size fits all solution.
Traditional 12 step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are widely available throughout the United States and worldwide. The traditional 12 step program is based on the famous “12 steps.” The objective of the 12 steps is to accept that one is powerless over substance abuse (or another behavioral addiction) and that finding a “higher power” is the key to recovery. In 12 step programs, recovery is defined by abstinence, and most people involved in the group count how long it has been (days, weeks, months, etc.) since they last drank or used.
SMART Recovery is a secular program. In some cases, the traditional 12 step program firmly rooted in spirituality can be uncomfortable for participants. The SMART Recovery approach focuses on “changing thought patterns to address triggers and encourages aligning behaviors with personal values.” SMART also emphasizes self-empowerment and self-reliance while providing education and support about addiction and its adverse effects. Unlike 12 step programs, there are no sponsors, prayers, or discussions of a higher power or being powerless. Another difference between traditional 12 step programs and SMART Recovery is medication use. SMART programs support using (legal) addiction and mental health medications such as methadone and suboxone for those participating in medication-assisted treatment or MAT.
In addition to the above, there are many options for support groups, and you should choose the type of group that best suits your needs. For those with co-occurring mental health issues, programs such as dual recovery anonymous have been formed to specifically address both mental health and addiction-related problems.
It is now possible to find meetings designed for specific populations such as male, female, LGBTQ, working professionals, or young people. The goal of these specifically tailored programs is to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
How to Know What Support Group is Right For Me?
Unfortunately, there are few significant medical studies on the efficacy of peer support groups; however, the available data shows people who participate during and after rehab report greater satisfaction with their treatment program. Support group participants who struggled with homelessness or other stressful living challenges also reported lower relapse rates.
How to Find Group Support Meetings Near Me
Addiction treatment and recovery is not a one-step process. The therapeutic process teaches different coping skills and behavioral modifications to help cope with triggers. Still, ongoing group support can be a great place to find people who have shared similar struggles and found ways to avoid relapse and stay in recovery. Contact us today to learn more about group support and addiction treatment at Rise in Malibu.