The Role Of Support Groups

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Let’s talk about the role of support groups in recovery!

It is not uncommon for substance abuse and dependence to lead to isolation. Drug and alcohol addicts tend to develop a lonely lifestyle and face difficulties understanding their emotions and interacting with people. The feeling of isolation often causes sudden and unexpected changes in mood and health. This ultimately brings addicted individuals to the brink of their coping skills.  

Please understand that addiction is a disease and its treatment requires strong will power, medical attention, and unconditional support from people. You’ll be glad to hear that there are several people out there willing to support each other through recovery. 

This is where peer support groups come into the picture! 

What Support Groups Really Are 

Support groups are designed based on the idea that support from people with a similar experience is critical for continued recovery. These groups help a recovering addict achieve and maintain sobriety in the long run. 

Truth be told, the path to recovery isn’t easy. It tests your patience and will power. For many people, it can be a daily struggle. While rehab plays an integral role in helping an addict heal and acquire the necessary tools to live a sober life, completing a rehab program doesn’t guarantee an end to their temptations. 

This is why the role of support groups in recovery is unmatched. These groups can be a valuable asset for anyone who wants to beat addiction for good and live a happy, sober life. The best thing is that they’re there for you not only during the rehab program but even outside rehab for years.       

How Do They Work?

What happens is that a group of people come together on a daily basis and share their experiences, trauma, and struggles with one another during a meeting or gathering. Support groups are usually made of people who see the same therapy team or are enrolled in the same rehab program. Generally, they have similar recovery goals and want to achieve similar milestones. 

The role of support groups in recovery can’t be ignored, as they ensure a ready system of help, encouragement, and accountability to recovering addicts.

Peer support groups are especially helpful for those individuals who need extra help after rehab to stay on track, maintain sobriety, and remain focused on their goals. What makes the whole process so effective is that the addicts get to interact with and learn from people who are in the same boat as them. They can relate to each other and not feel alone on their journey to recovery. 

In essence, support group meetings play a key role in putting recovery on the fast track. It helps the recovering individuals embrace a sober lifestyle, follow a healthy, well-structured routine, and be more accountable for their recovery progress. It goes without saying that recovering individuals must attend meetings regularly to ensure success in the first year of recovery and beyond.               

7 Benefits of Peer Support Groups for Addiction Treatment 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a Quick Guide for Clinicians, stating that support groups can promote recovering addicts’ ability to understand and manage their thoughts and emotions. They can also help them develop the interpersonal skills needed to maintain sobriety.     

The following are the top benefits of peer support groups in recovery.

Help Reduce Feelings of Loneliness

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Loneliness is one of the most difficult feelings most drug and alcohol addicts experience in recovery. It’s not uncommon for them to isolate themselves from society as they struggle with their addiction.  

Peer support groups ensure that recovering individuals don’t feel alone on the journey, making them realize that several people in the world struggle with addiction. Support group members assure them that they understand what they’re going through and are there to support them on the path to long-term sobriety.          

Offer an Opportunity to Witness Others’ Recovery 

Addiction is indeed a challenging disease to overcome. Even with strong support from family and friends and therapy, recovering individuals have to put in a lot of effort into maintaining abstinence. 

The biggest benefit of being a part of a support group is that it allows you to see how others struggling with addiction make positive changes in their lives and move closer to achieving sobriety, one step at a time. Witnessing others’ recovery helps motivate you to continue to work your way up to a sober life.    

Allow You to Learn New Coping Mechanisms 

During peer support meetings, members share their experiences and offer suggestions on how all recovering individuals can beat their cravings, cope with stress, and overcome the obstacles that hinder their path to recovery. 

As a part of a support group, you get a chance to discover how different coping mechanisms worked out for fellow members and which methods were the most effective. You can then apply this knowledge to improve your ability to stay sober.   

Provide Positive Peer Pressure

Support groups bring multiple people together who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and are at a similar stage on their respective recovery journeys. This means there is consistent positive peer pressure to be on time and participate during the meetings. You also feel accountable for the actions you take on your recovery journey, as you are expected to share your experiences and progress with the fellow members. Moreover, there’s a strong pressure to adhere to the rules of the group.    

Ensure Accountability 

When you are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and are in recovery, there’s always a chance of relapse. If relapse does occur despite all efforts to stay sober, you’ll naturally feel hopeless and defeated. 

This is where peer support groups come in. They help you stay grounded and focused on the path to recovery. If you experience a relapse, the members are there hold you accountable. Instead of punishing you for going off-track, they will support and encourage you to take the necessary steps to fight the urge to use drugs or alcohol and continue moving forward on the road to recovery.             

Help Understand the Changing Dynamics of Relationships 

Mother and daughter

As a part of a peer support group, you won’t only learn how to make positive changes in your lifestyle but also understand how your relationships with friends, family, coworkers, and employers will change over time. Information on changing relationships will help you better deal with people who love and care about you.       

  1. Offer Support Beyond Rehab 

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest benefits of peer support groups is that they offer support and guidance even outside rehab. Typically, each member of the group has a sponsor who they can reach out to outside the regular meetings for extra support. 

Aside from this, all members of a support group are encouraged to bond and befriend each other throughout the recovery process outside of the regular meetings. Once the rehab program is over, they can then continue to root for one another to maintain sobriety.      

Which Problems Can Support Groups Help with? 

You can get an idea of the importance of the role of support groups in recovery from the fact that they help overcome several challenges on the road to recovery in the following ways.

  • They offer a platform for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction to come together and mutually find ways to handle grief and bereavement 
  • They help recovering individuals learn effective coping skills and reach their recovery goals 
  • They offer support to people who have freshly graduated from a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program  
  • They help people deal with stress, anxiety, and depression that may accompany addiction 
  • They encourage recovering individuals to curb unhealthy and destructive everyday habits that may make it difficult for them to stay sober 

Please remember that whatever problems and challenges you are facing on the recovery journey, you’re not alone. There are several people out there who are willing to join hands with you on the fight against drug and alcohol addiction.    

How Can You Find a Support Group?

There are a number of ways you can find a support group to facilitate your recovery journey.  

  • Ask a doctor or a staff member at your treatment facility who may know of a peer support network
  • See if any community center or library hosts support groups or offer relevant resources 
  • Find people like business owner Jim who are in recovery, they make have useful referrals.
  • Check if there’s a local organization in your city or county to help people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction    

Apart from these options, you can always use online resources to look up the right support group for your individual needs. You can also ask your friends and family members to help you in this regard. Moreover, there are several websites and social media platforms nowadays where people struggling with addiction come together and share their challenges and success stories to motivate and inspire others. They encourage others who need help to feel welcomed and start attending support group meetings. 

What Should You Know before Joining a Support Group?

A man asking questions to another man

Below are a few questions you must ask before joining a support group for addiction. 

  • Does the support group accommodate people who are at a certain stage of drug or alcohol addiction?
  • Is the support supposed to be for a set period or will it continue indefinitely?
  • Is the group led by a moderator or facilitator?
  • Is the moderator or facilitator trained and qualified for the job?
  • How often are the group members supposed to meet and at what times?
  • Where do the members meet? 
  • Does a mental health expert also work with the group to address the needs of individuals with mental health issues?
  • How will your confidentiality be guaranteed? 
  • Are there any ground rules for group participation? If yes, what are they?
  • How does a typical group meeting look like? 
  • Is it free? If not, how much will you have to pay to become a part of the support group? 

Important: Please take notes of the red flags below and keep them in mind when choosing a support group.

  • Overly expensive fee for joining the group
  • Guarantee of long-term sobriety
  • The pressure to purchase a product or service 

Get the Most of a Support Group with Coastline Behavioral Health 

Finding your way back to a sober life may seem daunting but the right support group, it won’t be so difficult. Now that you know all about the role of support groups in recovery, get in touch with our team at Coastline Behavioral Health to discover the right group for you.

When you join a support group, you may feel vulnerable and nervous while sharing personal details of your addiction experience and recovery journey. It would be best if you just focus on listening during the first few sessions. It won’t take you much time to get comfortable and start contributing your ideas and opinions during meetings. Remember, the key to making the most out of peer support groups is to learn from others’ experiences and share the valuable knowledge you gain on your recovery journey.      

Ready to enroll in a support group and maximize your chances of achieving long-term sobriety? Get in touch with our team today!

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