Every difficult situation in life is better when you have support by your side. Support can come from friends, family members, or even support groups. When someone is suffering from addiction, support is especially crucial.
Think about it. You’re more likely to stick with a diet if the people around you are helping you in the process, so surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can help you stay on the right path in addiction recovery, too. Being a part of a support group while recovering from addiction can increase your chances of long-term recovery while reducing the possibility of relapse.
What is a Relapse?
Relapse is when a previous drug and alcohol user turns back to their drugs and alcohol after being sober for longer than normal. This usually occurs during the treatment process when they have been sober for a period.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), relapse rates during addiction treatment range from 40 to 60 percent, so having a supportive community on-hand during this time is an effective tool for the person’s long-term recovery.
How do Support Groups Decrease Chances of Relapse?
An intense treatment program and a network of supporters are essential to have by your side. Support groups are often part of the recovery process, and may help former drug and alcohol abusers learn how to:
- talk about their feelings
- find new communication skills
- think and act in an appropriate way
- properly manage their problems
- deal with stress and stressful situations
- control drug cravings
- turn away from harmful substances when pressured
- find new ways to relieve anxiety/depression
Without a supportive community helping you every step of the way, the higher your chances of relapse become. Being surrounded by other people who have been in similar situations allows for a sense of understanding and companionship.
Many people who have been drug and alcohol abusers may hold many of their thoughts and feelings inside in fear of being judged, but since the people in support groups understand what you are going through, there is no room for judgment. By listening to other people’s stories, you can hear what worked for some but do not work for others so you can find the most effective way to handle your addiction.
What are Some Common Support Groups?
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
This international support group helps people recovering from alcohol abuse to stay sober regardless of life’s temptations. AA consists of over 2 million members in 175 countries and has 115,000 groups. This support group is free to join, but members must want to stay sober.
Meetings may be held in churches or other public places. AA holds open meetings and closed meetings; public meetings are for the families of the person suffering from alcohol abuse as well as the public, while closed meetings are just for the person suffering from the addiction. AA helps people on their journey to sobriety get there alongside individuals who understand them.
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
NA is for people addicted to any harmful substance; drugs or alcohol. While NA is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous in many aspects, its primary focus is helping repair and maintain the relationships of the person suffering from addiction. Since many individuals who become addicted have family and relationship problems, NA’s wants to help provide a more supportive home life for the addict.
- Marijuana Anonymous (MA)
MA has meetings similar to that of AA but serves to teach its members how to abstain from marijuana. Meetings may take place in person or by phone.
- Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
CA strives to make its members sober from cocaine use. It teaches people how to deal with their cocaine cravings as well as ways to handle stress in their lives.
- Self-Management for Addiction Recovery (SMART)
SMART recovery programs teach previous addicts self-empowerment, self-reliance, and independence. These meetings can happen in person or online and revolve around four main points: building motivation, controlling urges, managing thoughts behaviors and emotions, and living a balanced life.
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (S.O.S.)
This support group is open to people who were addicted to drugs or alcohol. Members of this organization are asked to admit that their addiction has caused problems in their lives. By accepting their substance abuse and what has happened in their life, they can control their futures. This group also teaches self-reliance and how to reach long-term sobriety.
Are Support Groups for Me?
Support groups are an excellent way to stay connected with other people who are on the same path as you. Learning from each other’s mistakes and benefiting from each other’s triumphs can be an effective way to manage your addiction. Support groups help you on your way to sobriety!