And all that good stuff: The option of self help groups in recovery
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06-15-15 Category: Recovery


The sayings may be trite, but they ring true: there is strength in numbers; birds of a feather, flock together; one arrow snaps yet a quiver is not easily broken. The support, education and fellowship of self help groups have saved hundreds of thousands from relapse and added sober, healthier years to many a life. Common knowledge indicates that if a sober individual finds a recovery option which helps them meet their goals, then it will be helpful to incorporate it into a treatment plan.

How to get started

First, the recovering addict will need to determine whether to join Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or another self help group. AA is specifically intended for those who are struggling with alcoholism, whereas NA is intended for substance abuse of all forms. One positive aspect of these programs is the ease of availability. Programs are hosted at varied, flexible times and convenient locations throughout the country. Specific meetings may be tailored to a certain group or theme in particular. However, there are also other options such as the Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) which is science-based and SMART recovery, which utilizes the latest scientific research, self-empowerment and community.


Both AA and NA incorporate fellowship, as well as adherence to what is known as the 12 steps, in order to help participants maintain sobriety. The recovery process includes surrendering to a “higher power,” though this can be defined differently for each member. One common aspect of the process is finding a sponsor to provide assistance as needed. This is a person who has already successfully recovered from alcohol or illicit drugs. Their experience with lasting sobriety can prove valuable in moments when a person is tempted to drink or use. There is also Dual Recovery Anonymous, which is intended to help those who have received a dual diagnosis of both substance abuse and an emotional or psychiatric health disorder.

Recovery programs provide a hub for sober individuals to augment their social circle, so as to not be tempted by people or activities promoting use. Sober activities include barbecues, dances, games, cookoffs, brunches, luncheons and karaoke and athletic games. Members also have the opportunity to learn new methods of coping with symptoms of different issues such as depression. Meetings also often include readings of literature and sharing of personal stories among each other. Those in the program may be encouraged to help others, including perhaps friends and family who have suffered as a result of the abuse. More positive outlets of spending one’s time will be encouraged as well.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety, or SOS, is another self help group recovery option. This organization focuses on a scientific approach to assist with recovery. The concept of self-empowerment is used by members who would prefer not to have a spiritual aspect of their recovery. Sobriety is seen to be its own issue apart from one’s personal religious beliefs.

SMART Recovery is an acronym that stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. This is based on the methodology of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and also teaches approaches meant to promote self empowerment. Positive thinking is supported, along with methods such as getting daily exercise and maintaining a proper diet.

These and other options exist as well, with more information available online and through directories. It is important for those facing substance abuse to be made aware of all options available to them. Perhaps Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous didn’t work for someone personally, but if he or she is not made aware of other groups, then there is the risk of missing out on a program that is a better fit overall. AA and NA have the advantage of having a long history and therefore are better established, but both are far from the only self help groups available to the public.

The importance of holistic treatment

Of course, in order to better increase the odds of permanent recovery and lessen chances of relapse, it is wise to participate in a holistic treatment program. Sovereign Health offers such a program, treating patients both with proven techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy and medication for addiction. Such treatment, in combination with the right self help program, can assist a patient in better realizing their goals of recovery and sobriety. Contact a member of our admissions team today by phone or through our online chat to learn more about the treatment program options we have available.

Written by Sovereign Health Group writer Ryan McMaster

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