One thing that is very confusing for people is “after-care” for addiction treatment. It just does’t make sense. If a person goes to a 90-day treatment program and leaves clean and sober, shouldn’t that be the end of it? Wrong. If you really want long term recovery then you need to work on it continuously. A lifetime program of recovery can sound pretty harsh, but it’s the best way to maintain your new life. Think about it — yesterday’s meal or shower doesn’t help you much today — correct? My advice: find a group that you enjoy and make a habit of attending. You will meet new friends and have some fun.
First, let me clear up some confusion. There are various names for similar recovery organizations. You might hear “self-help group” “support group” “12-step” or even “peer group”. In the medical community they call it Mutual Aid Support. That sounds a little clunky to my ear, but okay, I can go with it.
What do these groups do?
These groups normally have a goal to provide help for people wanting long-term sobriety from addiction and alcohol. The most well known organization is Alcoholics Anonymous. You can read more about that in my last article. If that is not your thing, or if alcohol doesn’t apply to you, there are groups for people seeking all kinds of recovery. These groups can be for the addict or for their families and significant others. It’s very common for people to think of this as a form of “self-help” therapy. Personally, I think this can be a little misleading. That’s because most addicts (like me) have failed on their own efforts to achieve anything close to long-term recovery. I prefer to conceptualize it more like “help each other” therapy.
Celebrate Recovery – is a hybrid of a 12-step program plus Christianity.
Non-twelve-step addiction recovery group options:
There is some debate about the effectiveness of these groups because there has been only a limited amount of studies done on their success. However, the big takeaway is that most of these organization cost little or nothing.
How long do I go to these groups?
This might come as bad news, but long-term recovery is an ongoing life process. Support groups can play a vital role. Do some people get sober, move on with their lives and never give it a second thought? Yes, that can be possible, but most folks find it helpful to have a life-long recovery plan. Maybe to the non-addict or non-alcoholic, this might sound harsh. But, remember this is a disease that does not have a medical cure. And, If you want help, you will not be alone … last year more than 5 million people across the U.S. attended some kind of support group. Within this community of like-minded people, a support group can help you take responsibility for your alcohol and drug problems. Maybe you will even make some friends and have a bit of fun 🙂
Says William L. White, a noted recovery advocate:
“The recovery community is a place where shared pain and hope can be woven by its members into life-saving stories whose mutual exchange is more akin to communion than communication. This sanctuary of the estranged fills spiritual as well as physical space. It is a place of refuge, refreshment and renewal. It is a place that defies commercialization–a place whose most important assets are not for sale.
Family Support Groups
Do you have a loved one who is suffering from addiction or alcoholism? Check out the abundance of family support groups. There are many choices to pick from. Don’t blow this off! Family education groups provide information about the disease; its effects on the
loved one, the family, and the nature of relapse and recovery.
Family education groups often cover these topics:
Medical aspects of addiction and dependence
Addiction as a family disease
Reasons for testing the loved one
Community support groups and resources
Unique Family Resources
National Families in Action (NFIA) (www.nationalfamilies.org). NFIA is a national drug education, prevention, and policy center with the mission of helping families prevent substance abuse among children by promoting science-based policies.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) (www.ncadi.samhsa.gov) is a national resource center funded by the Federal Government that offers a large inventory of publications and videos for treatment professionals, clients, families, and the general public, including Alcoholism, Tends To Run in Families.
Family Support Groups
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) (www.adultchildren.org). ACOA is a 12-Step, 12-Tradition program that offers support for grown children of parents with alcohol or drug addiction.
Al-Anon family groups (www.al-anon.org). Al-Anon is a fellowship of relatives and friends of people who have alcohol problems who share their experiences, strengths, and hopes. Members believe that alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery. The program is based on the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Families Anonymous (FA) (www.familiesanonymous.org). FA is a 12-Step, mutual-help, recovery support group for relatives and friends of those who have alcohol, drug, or behavioral problems.
Nar-Anon family groups (www.naranon.com). Similar to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon is a fellowship of relatives and friends of people who abuse substances and offers a constructive program for members to achieve peace of mind and to gain hope for the future. .
The bottom line is that there is no shortage of help available. And, you can always contact me directly if you need some guidance.