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Support Groups & 12-Step Programs For Addiction

Addiction recovery support groups are an instrumental way that many stay sober. Learn more about this treatment option here.

What is a Support Group?

Participating in drug treatment programs and support groups can offer several benefits. A support group may aid in your recovery by providing social support, assisting you in developing coping mechanisms for healing, boosting your motivation, lowering depressive symptoms, and improving your psychological well-being.1

Support groups are an essential part of many treatments for mental and behavioral health issues and addiction recovery. Meetings are generally held in groups under the direction of a particular leader. The leader could be a peer leader, social worker, or trained counselor. Support groups help several people find understanding and empathy among people who are passing through the same challenging situation at a particular time.2

Are Support Groups a Substitute for Therapy or Rehab?

It’s important to note that support groups for recovering addicts are meant to enhance rehabilitation results, but they’re not meant to be a substitute for therapy. Instead, they provide a network of support to keep you sober and help you heal after rehabilitation is over.

How Do They Work?

A support group works to bring together different people who have gone or are going through similar experiences. These similar experiences can be grief, chronic medical conditions, addiction, or cancer. Individual members share their experiences, coping mechanisms, and information or treatment about a disease. Support groups can also provide a form of emotional support to members.

Types of Support Groups

There are different types of support groups. We’ll discuss the four major types below.

12-Step Groups

12-step programs are created for people with an addiction, such as drugs, alcohol, sex, or gambling. During group meetings, members work through the steps to recovery designed by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Like mutual support groups, 12-step groups are free, peer-led, and frequently offer different support group meetings for the family of those with affliction.3

Support Groups in Clinical Settings

These kinds of support groups are found in hospital settings. They’re primarily for patients with the same conditions. They come together to discuss ways to get better and improve their situation.

Mutual Support Groups for Friends or Family

This is a kind of support group for friends and family. Family members or friends who deal with similar things, like mood disorders, grief, and domestic abuse, can come together to share their situation and inspire members on how to get better. They are also known as peer-led groups.4

Online Support Groups

An online support group is the best when it is difficult to meet in person. It is a great alternative for people with distance or transportation barriers, or if family or a tight schedule prevents someone from attending a physical support group. However, it has its disadvantages, as it doesn’t often need as much accountability as in-person meetings, meaning it could be difficult to stay on track.5

What are the Benefits of Addiction Support Groups?

Many people often downplay the importance of the role of a support group in drug addiction treatment; however, support groups can be very beneficial. Some of the benefits of support groups will be detailed below.

Higher Likelihood of Abstinence and Better Substance Use Outcomes

Many people will need new coping skills when they’re recovering from an addiction, as it’s important to create new ways of living life. Support group groups will help you learn tips like journaling and meditation from people who were once in that situation. You’ll also be able to pick up tips and approaches on abstaining and staying healthy.

Improved Relationships, Family Stability, and Reduced Criminal Activity

Being with the other support group members can improve your attitude and optimism, giving you the emotional stamina to genuinely imagine a brighter future. Participants in support groups could share creative suggestions for how to look after themselves, handle stress, fight weariness, and feel mentally and physically stronger. This type of support often helps curb potential future criminal activity.

Members Usually Feel Understood and Supported

A support group offers you the chance to air your feelings. Sharing your personal experiences with the group will make you feel less emotionally burdened and supported. You can also learn about how others handle similar circumstances as they share their experiences with the group.7

Who Should Attend Addiction Support Groups?

Different categories of people can attend addiction support groups, as there are usually no restrictions on membership, and they are mostly free to attend.

If you’re in search of a support group, here are some drug and alcohol addiction support groups you can attend:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous: These are groups of people who share their hope, strength, and experience and help each other recover from alcoholism and solve their common problems.6
  • Cocaine Anonymous: These are a group of people who come together to fight their addiction to cocaine and how to get better.
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous: This group often encapsulates more than just crystal meth, as those trying to abstain from other mind-altering substances and inhalants also come together to learn how to stay away from such substances.
  • Marijuana Anonymous: This is a fellowship of people who share hope and strength to resolve their common problem of marijuana addiction.
  • Narcotics Anonymous: This is a gathering of men and women trying to deal with addiction to narcotics.

Potential Disadvantages

Although joining an addiction support group is highly recommended, you should know that support groups also have potential disadvantages. They include:

  • Disruptive or Conversation-Dominating Members: Some group members might dominate the conversation, preventing other members from having a say. This can affect shy people. Some members may also interrupt the leader from speaking, disorganizing the whole process.
  • Lack of Confidentiality: The stories you share might not remain private as there’s always the chance that some members might discuss it outside the meeting.
  • Interpersonal Conflicts Between Members
  • Inappropriate or Unsound Medical Advice from Members or Group Leaders: Most times, the leaders aren’t medical professionals, so they may give advice that is not medically correct.
  • Competitive Atmosphere When Talking About Problems: A support group consists of different people, and everybody wants to talk. It can get competitive at some point, allowing some people to speak, and others might not be given a chance.8

Where Can I Find Addiction Support Groups?

If you’re looking to enroll or join a support group but you don’t know how to find them, here are some places where you can find support groups:

  • Outreach center or community center
  • Free clinic
  • City government office
  • Hospital

Find Out More About Addiction Support Groups at San Diego Detox

For more information about the benefits of support groups and how to find one, reach out to San Diego Detox today and get all your questions answered.