Finding the Right Recovery Group
Navigating the world of recovery groups and fellowships can be difficult and confusing. There are many diverse options, and everyone seems to have a different opinion. Some say that all alcoholics need to go to AA. Some say that anyone who used drugs can’t go there, but needs to go to NA instead. Some people think all you need is God in your life, and will tell you to go to church. Still others don’t believe in God at all and will tell you SMART Recovery is the best group. This page aims to clear up some of the confusion and point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a group.
The 12 Steps
The 12 Steps were originally pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s. Today they are the most famous program of recovery from alcohol as well as all other forms of addiction and many types of behavioral problems. The reason they have lasted so long is because they have worked well for millions of people, and there is no reason that they can’t work for you as well.
Many people are scared off by what they see as the religious or spiritual aspect of 12 Step programs. Even if they are atheist or agnostic, they don’t need to worry. 12 Step programs do not force you to follow a certain God or religion.
There are a wide variety of 12 Step groups, attended by an even wider variety of people. The best-known group, of course, is AA, and this is often the best choice for alcoholics. But more than just alcoholics find sobriety through AA. Many modern AA groups include alcoholics as well as those who mainly used drugs. All members suffer from the same disease, and can find recovery in the same place.
Those who are not comfortable with AA have a number of other options. The most common drug recovery group is NA, but there are also groups for many other substances. In addition to substance abuse, 12 Step groups are available for behavioral problems and process addictions from sex, to gambling, to overeating. And these are just a few of the groups that can be found in many cities.
Today it is easier than ever to find the right 12 Step group for you.
For one reason or another, some people just cannot stomach the 12 Steps. There are still options available for these people. SMART Recovery uses a research-based, cognitive-behavioral approach to recovery. Celebrate Recovery offers a Christian perspective on finding sobriety. These and several other options are available as 12 Step alternatives.
What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction is a disease. There are many forms of science that attempt to explain what qualifies someone to be a drug addict. Some, like the 12 steps, qualify drug addiction/alcoholism within their own personal experience. This means that they, themselves, are actually drug addicts/alcoholics. The 12 steps are a true testament to understanding addiction and alcoholism. This is why we recommend strong 12 step drug rehabs to someone previously inexperienced with the matter.
Drug addiction continues to plague America. When drug addiction takes over a life, it does not just hurt one person, it hurts everyone around them. From family members to spouses, coworkers to clients, addiction is all inclusive, and will continue to hurt the addict and all those around until proper help is provided.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND COUNSELING
Counseling and therapy are well-developed and effective treatments for many of the problems people suffer from today. Often, issues that seem unsolvable or like they require medication can be resolved by working with a good counselor.
Counseling can be especially helpful for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction. When it comes to addiction, mental health and behavioral counseling are often a key part of the recovery process.
As a recovering addict, I attend counseling regularly. It provides me with a setting in which I can talk openly about anything that’s bothering me. It helps me to identify areas in life where I fall short and what I can do to improve. It also adds a layer of accountability—I voluntarily set up a weekly urinalysis drug test with my counselor so the people around me can feel comfortable knowing I am sticking to my program of recovery.
There are a number of types of counseling that can be helpful for treating substance abuse and addiction:
Most people are familiar with this type of counseling. The client meets with a therapist on a regular basis, such as once a week, to work on behavioral health. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a common practice where patients learn to identify and avoid or deal with situations that put them at risk of substance use.
A key part of the recovery process is being a member of a community with the same issues and goals. This is where group therapy comes in. Patients can feel comfortable discussing their substance abuse issues, with the knowledge that others in the group understand what they are going through from experience. Achieving sobriety becomes much easier when you don’t have to do it alone.
If you or a loved one have struggled with addiction before, you will know that it affects not just the addict or alcoholic, but the people around them as well. Families and relationships can be stressed to the breaking point by untreated addiction. Family counseling allows the person in recovery to sit down with his or her loved ones in a comfortable setting and begin to repair the damage that has been done.
What Happens Next
Relapse is one of the most talked-about and least understood problems in the recovery community. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on relapse. Some people will tell you it is a natural part of the recovery process. Others will tell you it never needs to happen—that it means someone was not following their program of recovery closely enough. Whichever point of view you take, the bottom line is many addicts and alcoholics relapse, and it is important to know what to do next. This page will attempt to answer that question.
Don't Give Up
If you or someone you love relapses into drug or alcohol addiction, the key is to continue trying to get sober. Most addicts and alcoholics with strong, long-term sobriety have had at least one relapse. Some have had many more than one. It is easy to think the battle with addiction has been lost, but this could not be further from the truth.
The modern understanding of addiction is that it is a disease. When a cancer patient relapses, the doctor doesn’t just give up. They fight even harder to beat it. And with the right attitude, many times they win. This is just as true when it comes to addiction.
Back to Treatment
If it is feasible to send the relapsed addict or alcoholic back to inpatient treatment, this can be the best option. It can feel humiliating to go back to rehab after graduating successfully, but shame needs to take the backseat to necessity. Addicts and alcoholics die of their addiction every day, so getting sober really can be a matter of life and death.
Inpatient treatment centers are an effective and highly recommended way of dealing with a relapse. And there is no need to hesitate to go to treatment, even if you have been before. Many people attend several treatment centers before they finally find long-term recovery.
Sometimes, inpatient treatment is not possible. Maybe the family cannot afford it, or maybe the addict refuses to go. Either way, it is important to get sober again as soon as possible and take steps toward preventing another relapse.
After a relapse, the addict will probably feel a lot of shame. While they cannot be forced to stop drinking or using, sitting down with them in a kind and understanding way might help them make the decision to give sobriety another try.
After they have detoxed, it’s time to take a look at the recovery program. Relapse means something was missing—maybe they weren’t attending enough or the right kind of meetings, maybe they weren’t working with a sponsor, and maybe the problem was something else. Identifying and fixing the problem will help prevent another relapse.