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Drug-Addiction Support Groups

In drug and alcohol addiction support groups, patients share their struggles and triumphs while gaining valuable insights from others on the same path.

Support groups are part of the program at most American addiction centers, which also promote family therapy and time-proven rehab models, such as 12-step, SMART Recovery, cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of motivational enhancement therapy.

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Support Group Meetings

Upon entry into a drug or alcohol treatment program, each patient is assigned a licensed counselor to discuss personal matters related to addiction. Patients also meet collectively in peer support groups, where everyone shares their hopes, fears, struggles and triumphs. In group meetings, patients discuss:

  • Vice triggers – What causes people in the support group to resort to alcohol and drug abuse?
  • Coping mechanisms – Since entering addiction treatment, what is each person doing differently to resist and conquer vices?
  • Insights – With substance abuse treatment, what insights have patients gained through personal reflection and wellness activities. Ideas differ so there’s usually something to gain from this topic.
  • Goals – What are the goals of people in addiction support groups? People can find inspiration in treatment programs.

In mutual support groups, patients discuss treatment with both a therapist and each other. Together, people dealing with drug and alcohol abuse find new and healthy ways of achieving sobriety.

Family Members

Family members often feel alienated when a loved one develops drug or alcohol addiction. Most of today’s drug treatment centers promote family therapy to mend these gaps.

In group sessions between patients and relatives, a family therapist moderates the discussions and helps both sides stay level-headed. The goal is to improve family relations by getting each side to hear the other out and compromise where appropriate.

Therapy can be the tool that helps a patient reconnect with a long-estranged but beloved family member.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapeutic model where counselors help patients identify and reverse self-defeating subconscious beliefs.

CBT is based on the premise that people’s behavioral habits are rooted in deep-seated beliefs. To change a bad habit, one must identify the subconscious self-defeating belief that fuels the habit and reverse it. CBT exercises include:

  • Reading and journal writing – CBT patients are encouraged to read wellness materials and keep journals of their thoughts, experiences, wellness activities and progress.
  • Meditation – Patients practice mind exercises that promote mindfulness and clear-headedness. Best done in a tranquil setting where patients can best achieve the ultimate peace of mind.
  • Exposure therapy – Activities designed to help patients conquer irrational fear. Examples may include talking to strangers, holding snakes and spiders, walking on coals and climbing walls.
  • Thought exercises – Mind exercises where the patient proactively guides his/her thoughts in a positive, proactive direction. Through repetition, positive thought processes can become second nature.
  • Challenging beliefs – By conquering fear and retraining the mind, patients gradually develop new subconscious belief systems that inspire natural (not forced) positive behavioral changes.

CBT relates to the theory that the mind is a wandering open vessel that, if not proactively guided, will roam anywhere when the individual isn’t paying attention. To improve behavior, one must actively guide the mind to uproot negative roaming thought patterns.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935 by stock speculator Bill Wilson and surgeon Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith. Both men struggled with alcohol addiction and agreed that alcoholism was a disease and not a moral problem. In 1946, they established the 12-step recovery model:

  1. Admit powerlessness – An alcoholic must first acknowledge the problem before he/she can conquer addiction.
  2. Find hope – Belief in a higher power can help people find the strength to abstain from alcohol.
  3. Surrender – Give one’s life and will over to the lord almighty and let him decide what’s right.
  4. Take inventory – Take an honest and introspective moral inventory of oneself.
  5. Share inventory – Confess one’s wrongs to oneself, to a personal confidant and the lord almighty.
  6. Prepare oneself – Belief in and preparation for God’s great cleansing of one’s fault of character.
  7. Ask God – Politely ask God to remove one’s shortcomings.
  8. List amends – Write a list of everyone one has offended and how to make amends with those people.
  9. Make amends – Make direct amends with everyone possible, except if doing so would imperil the individual.
  10. Continue inventory – Take further inventory; whenever wrong, admit to the problem and work to rectify it.
  11. Pray and meditate Pray and focus on one’s connection to God; have faith in his power to make one better.
  12. Help others Have an epiphany from these exercises; spread the message to other people in need.

The 12-step model has been adopted far and wide by faith-based and secular drug addiction treatment centers.

SMART Recovery

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is the secular alternative to AA. It employs cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Whereas AA treats alcohol addiction as a disease, SMART sees it as a maladaptive behavior. However, SMART does allow the notion that certain individuals are more predisposed to addictive behavior.

SMART Recovery promotes different exercises at different stages of recovery, including:

  • Precontemplation – The patient, not yet fully aware of the problem, takes inventory of his/her situation.
  • Contemplation – The patient, now realizing the problem, weighs the pros and cons of action versus inaction.
  • Preparation – The patient decides to take action and change his/her behavior. This might begin with a Change Plan Worksheet.
  • Action – The patient develops new habits and makes personal changes, which may involve participation in support groups and wellness activities.
  • Maintenance – Several months down the line, after the patient has achieved significant change, he/she takes inventory of progress and contemplates the next options.
  • Graduation – After a period of major change and transformation, the patient may decide to continue the program or graduate SMART Recovery and resume a normal life.

SMART Recovery does not claim to prevent relapse. It does see relapse as a learning experience from which patients can draw insights and wisdom in their quest for sobriety.

Get Help: Find Drug and Alcohol Addiction Support Groups

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Drug addiction and alcoholism are destructive vices that cause mental despair, physical depletion, financial ruin and sometimes death. People dealing with addiction need support from like-minded individuals who understand the struggle from first-hand experience.

At drug and alcohol treatment centers, patients partake in support groups with fellow patients. Support groups allow people to open up and share and learn from others with similar struggles.

At rehab facilities across the US, treatment center staff conduct support groups for patients in the inpatient and outpatient programs. If someone you know needs emotional support for drug or alcohol addiction, contact the nearest treatment centers and ask about their options.

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