Going into treatment for your addiction is a brave and life-changing decision and is the beginning of your road to recovery. During treatment, you learn from your counselors that there are important steps to take to ensure you continue to adhere to your newly sober lifestyle. Amongst the many tools you will be given during treatment, one of the best resources to keep you on a successful path is being involved with support groups in your community. These groups provide many benefits for people who are committed to long-term recovery and are designed to provide support for those with substance use disorder, as well as their families and loved ones.
- Family, group, and individual counseling sessions
- Support group meetings
- Job training or educational workshops
- Mental health care for co-occurring disorders
- Professional medication monitoring
Family and Group Counseling
Family and group counseling sessions and support groups can be particularly helpful in rebuilding relationships that have been worn down during the height of addiction. This can involve friends, family, significant others, children, and anyone else that may have been impacted by addiction. While some relationships will take time to mend, showing initiative and willingness to work through past problems is a brave and valuable first step. These sessions can also include couples counseling where one or both have been involved with drug misuse.. Addiction can take a severe toll on a marriage or relationship. Once a spouse with substance use disorder has taken a step towards fixing the situation by entering treatment, a lot of work needs to be put into reconstructing the relationship or marriage. Spouses who have previously fallen into enabler positions will need to be aware of their behaviors to make recovery a lasting success. Attending support groups for spouses or family of those who are overcoming addiction are also a valuable way to gain support from others. It’s easy to connect with other who have gone through similar strife, especially as a way to talk about their worries, hopes, and plans for the future.
Reduce the Chance of Relapse
Support groups are seen as a vital component of recovery. While counseling during and after treatment is conducted by a professional, support groups are run by members. These groups can help reduce the rates, the severity or length of relapse. Since relapse rates are at 40-60%, according to NIDA, these groups are especially important. While most people are actively engaged in treatment programs long enough to build tools to resist relapse on their own, this is an ongoing set of skills that need to be worked on even well after enrolling in treatment. Managing cravings and avoiding triggers is vital to staying sober, but people can often feel alone with their struggles. Talking about these feelings and urges with other people who can relate to you can ease tension and help reframe thoughts. People in support groups encourage each other to continue on the road to recovery and, often, be lifelines for each other when times are tough.
Other Kinds of Support Groups
Sometimes it’s not easy to find a local support group in your community that fits with your schedule. Other times, things like social anxiety or other related factors can keep you from attending group and receiving much-needed support. Luckily, the internet and phones can provide resources where members can also enjoy anonymity as well as having access to chat with others who are similar to them.
- Message boards: There are many online message boards, both international and local. Sharing posts and comments about ideas, struggles, and more on a message board opens a topic of discussion with anyone who wants to drop a line. This is best for feedback that isn’t necessarily needed in real-time. Message boards are very flexible for people who have busy schedules.
- Chat groups: Similar to message boards, there are chat groups where people can talk in real time from their computers. These can also be local or international. This is a much quicker way to communicate than message boards since the conversation is happening live. Once you find a website that offers the kind of group chat you like and feel comfortable with, you can sign up with the website and you are set.
Phone groups: People who prefer talking over typing would do best in a phone support group. Everyone dials into a reserved conversation line that connects all members. This is similar to a conference call where there are many people on the line at once. You can do this from any phone, from anywhere.
Benefits of Support Groups
Aside from helping prevent relapse, there are many other reasons why support groups are an important aspect of long-lasting recovery. Many people find themselves with a lack of social life or friends. If your friends are all still using while you are in recovery, it can be an alienating feeling. Attending support groups is a way to meet new people who are also striving to live a sober life. Together, people in support groups can conquer cravings and difficult emotions. Having a group to show up to on a daily or weekly basis can also keep you accountable. Members of a group tend to look out for each other. If they notice someone is frequently skipping meetings, they can delicately approach the person to make sure they are doing well and haven’t relapsed. In the case of relapse, a support group can be an immense help to get back on track with your recovery.
If you are looking for support group resources, visit SAMHSA’s National Helpline. Completing treatment is the first big step in recovery, but finding a support group community that makes you feel welcome and comfortable is a vital next step.