Many models of drug addiction treatment and recovery use support groups. You might need to decide, as you begin your recovery, whether this is a beneficial tool for you. Not all people like support groups, while others thrive on it.
Support groups are those that include others who have struggled with the same challenge you have. There may or may not be someone who is facilitating the group. However, unlike group therapy, there is not a mental health professional that is providing clinical guidance.
Although the professional guidance might be absent in support groups, they are beneficial because they can provide the opportunity to hear what you may not be able to express yourself. For instance, you might be feeling incredibly sad, and then hear someone in your support group say: “Gosh, it’s been so hard, and I feel so sad that my addiction has harmed so many people I love.” It might feel like a weight has been lifted. Plus, hearing this might give you the freedom to finally say what has been hard for you to express too. And finally being able to say what you couldn’t up until now can be incredibly healing. The greatest part about a support group is the community. In a community of others who are struggling with the same life challenge, you and your family can find support, love, friendship, and safety.
Find the Right Support Group for You
This kind of support is what you can find at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. However, you should know that there are alternatives to AA if you don’t like the spirituality of the 12-step method, for instance. If you find that support groups can be a significant tool in your recovery (and they are for many recovering addicts), then find one that works for you. AA is not ideal for everyone. Other groups such as SMART Recovery or Moderation Management might be alternatives. And if you do find a support group that works well for you, set a realistic schedule that you can commit to. For instance, you might say to yourself, “Okay, I’m going to attend 7 meetings a way, that’s one a day.” However, if later that feels overwhelming you may not attend any meetings at all. Perhaps committing to two meetings a week might be the more realistic option.
Also, you might find that it’s not support groups you prefer, but group therapy. This also provides the group and community like feel of a support group but it also includes the presence of a drug counselor. You will likely encounter group therapy in drug treatment and many substance abuse treatment centers.
Group Therapy During Recovery
Group therapy includes one or more therapist, psychologist, social worker or other mental health professional who is facilitating treatment for a group of individuals. Participants of group therapy usually experience the same diagnosis or life challenge. For instance, adults who were sexually abused as children might make up a group in therapy. Or in the case of drug addiction treatment, those in group therapy are men and women who have or struggling with an addiction. Typically, everyone in the room, aside from the therapist, is experiencing the same struggles, which is why the group can become a supportive community. Group therapy for recovering addicts can be incredibly helpful and healing.
Furthermore, group therapy has been proven to be effective within the mental health field and it is a form of treatment that many counseling and treatment centers use. They are as diverse as the wide variety of individual therapies. Some groups are more psychologically oriented, serving to address the specific issues that a person might be experiencing while others are more social in nature. For example, support groups can be solely educational, teaching participants about their diagnosis or addiction. While others might provide healthier coping mechanisms or skills to manage their illness appropriately. Group therapy can also be a time for participants to have a therapeutic experience that can bring insight, healing, and hope.