Support groups of all types play a vital role in many mental health and addiction treatment programs. Support groups are often included in an aftercare plan at the end of a primary treatment program. Additionally, many comprehensive treatment programs incorporate peer support groups into regular counseling sessions as a part of treatment. Anyone seeking help to overcome addiction can benefit from working with a peer support group during treatment or after.
What are Addiction Support Groups?
Addiction support groups play a crucial role in all phases of addiction treatment. Peer support groups (group meetings, support groups) are generally guided or supported by a leader who is usually a skilled counselor, peer leader, or social worker. Support groups not only complement the recovery process but provide a supportive environment to maintain connections with like-minded peers in the weeks and months after treatment. It is essential to remember that addiction support groups are not a substitute for a comprehensive detox and therapy program; rather, they are a complement to traditional treatment.
Peer support and shared experiences connect many support group participants. Members of the group often have similar experiences (successes and failures) with drugs and alcohol. Also, group members have often experienced similar medical and mental health side effects linked to ongoing substance abuse. Another benefit to peer support groups is reduced isolation.
Many who are newly sober struggle with the pain and loneliness of isolation. It is not uncommon for recovering addicts to have few members of their former social circles who share in their newfound sobriety. When a recovering addict feels isolated, it can worsen depression and anxiety. Peer support groups can help recovering addicts realize they are not alone and reduce feelings of loneliness.
Are There Different Types of Support Groups?
There are various support groups available. Although each group is built on a slightly different foundation, they all strive to provide support and structure for group members.
Popular 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are widely available throughout the United States and worldwide. AA and NA groups are based on the well-known original 12-steps set forth by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Programs based on the 12-steps follow the premise that finding a “higher power” is key to recovery. 12-step programs define recovery as ongoing abstinence, and group members keep track of how long (days, weeks, months, years, etc.) it has been since they last used drugs or drank.
SMART Recovery is a secular program. For some, the traditional 12-step program, the notably spiritual foundation of a 12-step program, may be uncomfortable. SMART Recovery programs follow a different pattern. The foundation of SMART groups focuses on “changing thought patterns to address triggers and encourages aligning behaviors with personal values.” SMART Recovery groups also promote self-reliance and self-empowerment (rather than reliance on a higher power) while educating members about the harmful effects of addiction.
Unlike 12-step programs, there are no sponsors, prayers, or discussions of a higher power or being powerless. Another difference between traditional 12-step programs and SMART Recovery is medication use. While 12-step programs shy away from utilizing medications as part of recovery, SMART programs support medications such as suboxone and methadone used by those engaged in a MAT (medication-assisted treatment) program.
In addition to the above well-known support groups, several other options are available that may meet more specialized or personal needs. Choosing a group that best meets your needs and goals is crucial to ensure you are comfortable engaging with the group. Along with NA and AA programs, there are groups for those struggling with co-occurring addiction and mental health conditions (dual recovery anonymous). There are also groups for specific populations, including all-female and all-male groups, LGBTQ+ groups, working professionals, First Responders, and others. The goal of these specifically tailored programs is to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
How to Find Support Groups near Ann Arbor, Michigan
The journey to overcoming addiction can feel isolating and complex, but it doesn’t have to. With the help of a therapeutic program and the support peers during treatment (and aftercare) treatment support groups, you can find the guidance you need to put struggles with addiction in the past.
Contact our admissions team today for more information about our Ann Arbor rehab to learn more about support groups as part of treatment at Liberty House Recovery Center.