Support groups are one of the core factors of addiction recovery. While individual therapy is important in treating substance use disorders, support groups are often prioritized, especially after leaving rehab. This is in contrast to most mental health treatments, in which groups are only occasionally used as an added means of stability.
Why is it that support groups are so important in addiction recovery? Can you maintain your recovery without attending groups?
Why are support groups important for addiction recovery?
Support groups are important for a number of reasons when recovering from substance use disorders.
The most basic reason support groups help is that many recovering addicts need to make new friends. Many of a recovering addict’s pre-rehab friends are addicts themselves, and spending time with them increases the risk of relapse. Also, it is not always easy to talk to friends who have not struggled with addiction. Support groups provide recovering addicts with a healthy community who understands them.
Support groups also encourage honesty in recovering addicts. Relapse is an unfortunate part of the process for many people recovering from substance use disorders. Many people are too ashamed to tell family and friends or don’t want to let them down. This can lead them back into a cycle of dishonesty and denial. In an addiction support group, everyone is in the same boat, and there is no judgment when recounting any missteps along the way.
Another important function of support groups is that they give recovering addicts a model for how to approach difficult situations. Fellow attendees share their own experiences and what they have learned. There is an environment of mutual support, which goes a long way to keeping recovering addicts on track.
Finally, support groups also give recovering addicts the chance to be of service to others. Helping others gives recovering addicts more impetus to stay clean themselves, along with a deepened sense of purpose.
Can I stay clean without a support group?
Many recovering addicts are reluctant to commit to regular support groups, whether because of time constraints or other personal aversions. Is it possible to stay clean without attending support groups?
With addiction recovery, nothing is guaranteed. You can stay clean without a support group and you could also relapse with a support group. However, you increase your chances of a sustained recovery when you commit to regular support groups.
People who do not attend support groups are more likely to go back to friends who enable their addiction. They find it more difficult to share their experiences and may fall back into manipulative ways.
Support groups are not a panacea when it comes to addiction recovery, but they play an important role. Unless there are compelling reasons you cannot attend groups as a recovering addict, you should do what it takes to facilitate your attendance.