How Do I Choose a Support Group?

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/20/2021

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Choosing to attend a support group can be very helpful to your overall recovery from substance abuse and addiction. But how do you find the right support group and when should you consider becoming a member as a part of your treatment?

Types of Support Groups

Support groups are according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “groups of two or more people who share a problem and come together to provide problem-specific help and support to one another.” There are several different types of these programs, and many of these are even divided into more specific groups that focus on one drug or addiction only.

  • 12-step groups are, undoubtedly, the most popular type of support group available. Since the 1930s, people have been joining Alcoholics Anonymous in order to quit drinking, and many other types of 12-step programs also exist today. These programs revolve mostly around regular attendance at meetings, practicing abstinence, and members helping one another. The program also teaches that one must give themselves over to a higher power in order to achieve a strong recovery.
  • SMART Recovery, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, and other types of support groups revolve more around the idea of self-empowerment. These programs believe that members should learn to control their substance abuse without relying on a higher power.
  • Some programs also teach that members should not consider abstinence to be the only way toward recovery. These programs can sometimes be successful for certain individuals who can continue to drink or participate in another activity in moderation without complete abstinence.
  • Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are two other types of support groups meant for the family members of addicts. These programs are often built on the idea of trying to understand a loved ones’ journey of recovery as well as healing for those who have been hurt by the addictions of others.

Considering Your Situation

People often choose 12-step support groups to help them through their recoveries. These options can help to support “abstinence and other healthy lifestyle goals” and provide members with social support (National Institute on Drug Abuse). If you are religious and/or have already chosen a higher power you feel comfortable with, a 12-step program could be beneficial to you.

While one’s higher power need not be religious in nature, some individuals feel uncomfortable with this concept. If you do, you may want to choose a secular support group option like one of those listed above. In addition, if you do not feel abstinence is the best option for your needs, a non-12-step program could be helpful to you. It is important to consider all your needs and beliefs before choosing a support group and to understand what the group itself teaches and whether or not you feel their philosophy is one you are comfortable with.

Attend a Meeting

One of the best ways to find out if a support group is right for your needs is to attend a meeting. Usually, these programs are free, which can be helpful to those who are already dealing with the costs of rehab. Attending one meeting shouldn’t cost you anything at all, and it can also help you decide if a specific program is the best choice for your needs.

How Do I Choose a Support Group?

Choosing a support group should be highly based on what your needs are as a recovering addict, how you believe you will best be able to achieve a happy, successful life in recovery, and which methods will benefit you most. In general, though, it is important to choose a support group either after or during your time in a professional rehab program.

Everyone suffering from addiction should attend rehab in order to safely recover from their substance abuse, and support groups like those mentioned above can be a great supplement to treatment.

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