How Group Support Systems Help Maintain Sobriety
While in treatment, people in recovery from addiction often have several support systems to help maintain sobriety. Once someone has completed a treatment program and returns to “the real world,” it can be challenging to receive the same level of support. Life in recovery can sometimes be isolating or lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Support groups exist in almost every city in the country and online support groups have emerged in recent years.
What Is a Support Group?
There are typically two types of support groups: psychotherapist-designed groups and peer-led groups. Support groups can be made up of people who have seen the same counselors, share 12-step goals and want to reach similar short-term goals. These groups provide people in addiction recovery with encouragement, help and accountability. Some other benefits of becoming part of an addiction support group include:
Meeting people who want to live a sober life
Learning coping skills to avoid cravings
Getting support during difficult, emotional periods
Knowing you’re not alone
Some common addiction support groups include:
SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training)
SOS (Save Ourselves)
WFS (Women for Sobriety)
JACS (Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others)
These groups are just some of the national support groups. Some follow 12-step programs, some have a religious base and some have a secular approach to recovery.
Why Do Support Groups Matter?
Someone in recovery may find it challenging to engage in social activities, so being part of a support group can help them get social interaction to learn new coping strategies. No matter how long someone has been in recovery, being part of a support group can offer new perspectives and insight into how to remain sober.
Addiction is a chronic disease, so recovery is a lifelong process. Despite the amount of time a person in recovery has been sober, they are still at risk for setbacks. Being part of a support group holds people in addiction recovery accountable. Group members understand the temptations that people in recovery face and can use their respective voices to express the importance of staying sober without using shame or guilt.
In a Florida study, researchers found significant reductions in the rates of setbacks among people in addiction recovery in peer support community programs. Additionally, the rates of homelessness among people in addiction recovery decreased.
How to Find a Support Group
Several ways to find a support group for yourself or a loved one in recovery include:
Asking the rehab facility where you completed treatment for recommendations
Asking for a referral from your therapist
Finding a church or other place of worship, as they often host support groups for addiction recovery
Asking your local library or community center if they host support groups
Searching online for an organization in your city or county
Asking for a referral from friends or people you may have met in treatment
Searching chat rooms or online communities that provide support for addiction recovery
Support groups are an excellent addition to living a sober life, however, getting treatment for addiction is often the most effective. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, help is available. At The Recovery Village, a team of professionals can design an individualized treatment program to address your substance use and co-occurring disorders. Call and speak with a representative to learn more about which treatment program could work for you.
Boisvert RA, Martin LM, Grosek M, Clarie AJ. “Effectiveness of a peer-support community in addiction recovery: participation as intervention.” Onlinelibrary.wiley.com, October 9, 2008. Accessed April 26, 2019.