Addictions were once treated like acute problems that came on suddenly, caused an intense amount of distress, and then disappeared with appropriate treatment. In this model, just a few months of therapy could make a world of difference, and the person could emerge from that program with all of the tools needed to live a sober life from that point forward. Now, experts know that addictions are chronic conditions that develop slowly, cause insidious damage and require a lifetime of commitment to control. In this model, support groups play a key role.
Understanding a Support Group
Addiction support groups often follow a format developed by the leaders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Here, users are asked to follow 12 steps in order to help them achieve lifetime control over their addictions, and each step is just a little bit more challenging than the last. While the work is hard, it’s not intended to replace the work the person does in a formal treatment program for addiction. As an article in the journal Psychiatric Clinics of North America puts it, “… 12-step programs are spiritually based fellowships supporting not only the achievement and maintenance of abstinence from alcohol and other drug use, but also lifelong character development.” The programs aim to help people develop healthy lives and strong ties, and these elements can help them to support their sobriety.
Classic 12-step meetings for people with addictions take place in real time. Here, people with addictions come together in one room and they follow a fairly organized meeting format. This agenda can be beneficial, as it ensures that people who go to meetings in other cities or in other facilities will always have the same type of experience, and receive the same level of support. For them, standardization is deeply reassuring, and in-person meetings are of an immense benefit. They can share, listen and learn while being surrounded by others who have their own addiction issues. For those with addictions to prescription drugs, this can be an amazing experience.
Support group meetings are often held in the community in a variety of locations, such as:
- Church basements
- Community centers
- Office buildings
- Addiction treatment centers
In most cases, people can find just the right meeting with a simple search of the Internet. However, there are some people who have difficulty finding meeting times and locations that would work for them. They might live in isolated communities, where no public buildings are easily accessible, or they might live in dense cities in which they can’t easily travel from one place to another. For these people, the Internet might provide another outlet of support.
Online 12-step support groups for prescription drug addiction allow people to attend meetings from the comfort of their own home, and they may be able to access help 24 hours per day, simply by logging on. Online meetings also allow people to share their stories in a completely anonymous fashion. They can attend a meeting without using their real names, and they don’t have to worry about being recognized. In a study in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that 75 percent of those studied found it easier to discuss sensitive problems in online forums, compared to face-to-face meetings. These people might find online 12-step meetings to be a perfect solution.
At Axis, we believe in the power of the 12-step movement, and we ask all of our clients to participate in these meetings. These support groups have a vital role to play in ensuring long-term sobriety. If you’d like to learn more about how they work, please contact us.