It’s not always easy to make the choice to reach out to others. For many people struggling with addiction, there is a natural desire to withdraw from family, friends, and the general public. Unfortunately, staying withdrawn only keeps you trapped in the cycle of addiction.
Connecting with others in the safe, comfortable environment provided in a group setting can help you build alliances, lean on one another, and start on the path to recovery. Learn about the types of meetings available to you, what to expect from meetings, and how to find them.
Alcohol and Drug Addiction in the U.S.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 10% of individuals ages 12 and older needed treatment for a drug or alcohol problem. While the type of treatment can vary from inpatient rehabilitation programs to outpatient services, many choose to either start or continue their journey to recovery by attending support groups. Meetings can help you gain support, bond with peers, and develop a strategy for sobriety.
How Meetings Can Help You
Feelings of hopelessness can go hand in hand with addiction. Still, there are many positive reasons to attend meetings when your goal is recovery.
Acknowledge Your Addiction
Many people struggling with addiction have a problem admitting it. Excuses for addiction can include anything from boredom to loneliness, and everything in between. Attending meetings is beneficial for several reasons. It sheds light on the root of your addiction while helping you connect with others in recovery. Who knows; maybe your peers are experiencing similar roadblocks.
Identify Your Triggers
Triggers are psychological, physical, or environmental stimuli that lead to drinking or drug use. Over time, triggers help create a pattern of use that becomes an addiction. In other words, you’re unable to experience a trigger without using substances to cope. Discussing patterns of behavior and addiction within a group setting helps uncover your individual triggers. In addition, you’ll learn to better recognize your urge to use prior to using to avoid relapse.
Cope with Negative Thoughts
Both a common trigger and a result of substance use, negative thoughts about yourself or others have a damaging impact on your well-being. Negativity can contribute to the destruction of relationships, hinder the formation of new friendships, and affect productivity. Meetings provide a safe space in which you can identify negative thoughts and create positive coping skills to effectively manage them.
Find a Sponsor
Attendees at meetings come from all walks of life, backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. All are welcome regardless of income, marital status, race, or personal history. Furthermore, meetings are comprised of both individuals who are just starting their journey to recovery and those who have been on the path to wellness for years. Stable, sober individuals often provide support to those in the early stages of recovery through sponsorship. A sponsor can provide additional support outside of a group setting when you need help coping with life and are trying to remain sober.
Create a Plan
Although recovery planning should occur with a trained professional, you can start to draft a plan of what may help you stay sober by learning what has worked for others. Because meetings are confidential, participants are free to discuss issues that resulted in relapse and the steps taken to get back on the journey to recovery safely.
Types of Addiction Support Meetings
Once you’ve determined you’d like to try a support meeting, it can be overwhelming to review your options. Keep it simple by reviewing the three basic types of meetings available in most communities:
- Traditional 12-Step Meetings. The first thought most people have when thinking about support meetings are 12-step programs. These include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Marijuana Anonymous (MA) and Gambler’s Anonymous (GA). Though there are other 12-step programs available, these four are the most popular and widely known. At the core of these programs is the idea that one must have a desire to stop using and begin working the 12 steps to achieve and maintain sobriety. Support meetings can be co-ed, male only, or female only to ensure attendees feel comfortable to discuss their personal lives.
- Faith-Based Meetings. Faith is a strong motivator to stay on the narrow path of recovery, which is why many people choose Christian meetings instead of traditional 12-step programs. Biblically based support meetings typically have at least one Christian counselor or pastor who ensures that steps to recovery are Christ-centered and provides support while fostering group fellowship.
- Peer Support Groups. Available in both secular and faith-based versions, peer support groups differ somewhat from traditional 12-step programs. Often there is a core group of members who perform activities together, complete projects, and conduct outreach. Many times, members of a peer support group were introduced during an inpatient or outpatient program and participation in the group is part of their recovery plan.
It’s okay if you don’t know which kind of support meeting would be best for you immediately, but you will never discover your preference until you attend one.
How to Find a Meeting Near You
The truth is, choosing to attend a meeting is the hard part; finding one is easy. There are many resources available in print, in person, and online, including:
- 12-Step Websites. Each website dedicated to AA, NA, MA, and GA has a meeting location function on the first page. Simply enter your zip code and find support meetings near you.
- Local Newspaper. Typically located in the classified section, local meetings can be found in your area’s newspaper along with the time, date, and location of the group.
- Local Church. Churches and faith-based organizations are great community resources and often host meetings on-site. At the very least, members of leadership can provide contact information or a referral. Discuss your interest in a substance abuse meeting with a pastor and they will likely be able to lead you in the right direction.
- Substance Abuse Treatment Centers. A great resource for everything from group meetings to targeted treatment options, local substance abuse treatment centers can offer a wealth of information about the services available in your area. Specializing in drug and alcohol abuse, treatment providers have the latest, most up-to-date information about support groups and can help you choose the best option for your individual needs.
- Friends and Family. Reach out to friends or family members you trust who may have, or know someone who has, a struggle with substance abuse. They may know where support meetings are held and might attend meetings themselves. Going to your first few meetings with someone you know and trust will enhance your experience and encourage participation.
Find a Support Meeting Today
Addiction can have many components, and you may benefit from a variety of treatment and support groups depending on your needs. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, contact Outpatient Services for a confidential consultation at (844) 211-7944. We can help you find a meeting that is right for you and also discuss other treatment options. You don’t need to face addiction alone; support is just a phone call away.