Recovery Support Meetings - What Type is Right for You?
Self-help groups provide group members with a forum to discuss a problem, issue or situation in their life with individuals who have experienced the same or have similar thoughts and feelings about an issue.
To find authentic support for you, recovery support groups and meetings need to provide you with a sense of belonging to a safe, caring group that gives directions to recover that are suitable for you.
Inherent in all self-help groups is the commonality of a problem, issue or experience, combined with collective solutions, answers and directions for healing. In truly therapeutic or mutually beneficial healing groups, members feel a sense of security in discussing what may be painful, embarrassing or troubling aspects of themselves without fear of judgment.
The emphasis is typically on shared experiences, either in active addiction or recovery. These disclosures, combined with alternative actions, attitudes and behaviors to promote recovery, can produce favorable outcomes for the members struggling with something.
Finding Positive Peer Support Through Meetings
Regardless of the underlying principles, or basis for the meetings, there is a tremendous amount of positive peer support and validation in recovery support meetings that can help an individual achieve and sustain long term recovery.
With the many types of meetings available, you no longer have to settle for one that does not meet your needs. There are many paths to recovery and recovery supportive meetings enhance these various pathways.
Do You Attend Recovery Supportive Meetings
What type of Recovery Supportive Meeting Do You Attend
Famous, Infamous and Everyday
Celebrities are coming forward as recovering individuals and talking about the opportunities for healing found in recovery supportive meetings. William Cope Moyers, journalist and son of Bill Moyers, writes in his memoir, Now What - An Insider’s Guide to Addiction and Recovery, that “… these weekly meetings are a valuable opportunity for users to meet with fellow peers in recovery, and to build up their own “social capital” and support network within the recovery community.”
“I work with The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. I sit proudly as one of only two recovering addicts on their board." Jamie Lee Curtis
Russell Brand: My Life without Drugs writes in the Guardian that “There are support fellowships that are easy to find and open to anyone who needs them but they eschew promotion of any kind in order to preserve the purity of their purpose, which is for people with alcoholism and addiction to help one another stay clean and sober... without these fellowships I would take drugs.”
“No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions." Patrick J. Kennedy
I am not a famous person at all, just a person in long-term recovery, who opened and ran an award-winning residential recovery home for women for more than 20 years.
How I got and have remained in recovery for more than 26 years is personal and powerful to me. However, that does not mean that the method will work for everyone else.
All individuals, rich and poor, famous and infamous, male, female, young and old or merely trying to make it today without using can benefit from recovery support meetings. When a group member is sharing about changes in their lives and recovery, it is important that you can relate.
Building Your Support and Social Network
One of the fundamental, foundational aspects of successful long-term recovery is to make sure that you have supportive people in your life, besides family and friends. These meetings are where you will meet people, learn from them, and create new social networks. For these connection to be beneficial, there should be people who:
- Can relate to your issues and your solutions
- Are available to you when your life is difficult, or you just need to talk
- Value the same path of recovery that you do and can offer help
In order to have these people in your life, it is necessary to explore all of your options for recovery support meetings. Twenty-six years ago, my options for meeting types, locations, and times were limited. But I still found friendships, a new social circle, trusted advisors and allies, and people willing to share what had worked for them to achieve long term recovery.
Were you aware of how many different recovery perspective there are available until you read this Hub?
What's Available Today?
There are many more options available, either meetings conveniently located or meets at a time that fits your schedule. However, what is going to make any meeting correct for you is:
- Shared values
- Same philosophical orientation
- Accessibility to support
Most meetings will fit into these categories:
12 Step Based
Many people are familiar with the “Anonymous” meetings – AA, NA, CA, Alanon, or one of the over 200 Anonymous meetings, based on the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. 12 Step Based recovery; developed over 65 years ago, was built on the premise that one suffering alcoholic could best help another.
Faith or Religious Based
Faith, Belief or Religious based meetings describe any organizational supportive group based on shared ideas. Specific to meetings, there are Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Catholic, and Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter- Day Saints. While not as common as Anonymous or 12 Step based meetings, they are growing in numbers in metropolitan areas.
Addictions Victorious is a network of Christ-centered support and recovery groups. Meetings are open to men and women of all ages who are seeking lasting change in their lives
A Christian recovery program with support groups around the world
AC is an inter-denominational Christian fellowship that ministers to Alcoholics or Substance abusers, family members, and individual who raised in dysfunctional families
The purposes of the Celebrate Recovery ministry are to fellowship and celebrate God's healing power in members lives through the "8 Recovery Principles."
An organization that supports the use of Buddhist teachings and practices to help overcome addictions
A mutual-help group for Jews in recovery from alcohol and other chemical abuses that helps recovering Jews and their families connect, explore their Jewish roots, and discover helpful resources
Millati Islami (Islamic)
An Islamic fellowship of men and women supporting recovery from alcohol and drug addictions
National Catholic Council on Alcoholism and Related Drug Problems (NCCA). A body affiliated with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that promotes greater awareness and acceptance of alcoholism and other chemical addictions and prevention issues
LDS has in-person and online meetings for individuals in recovery and their family, significant other, and friends. This site also features the program recovery guides from the LDS perspective.
Secular Recovery Supportive Groups
A movement focused on recovery from addiction without a focus on the spiritual or religious aspects found in both 12 Step and Faith-based recovery.
- SMART Recovery: An abstinence-based, organization that uses "common sense self-help procedures" designed to empower participants to abstain and to develop a more active lifestyle
- Rational Recovery: An abstinence-based recovery approach that claims it is the "antithesis and irreconcilable arch-rival of Alcoholics Anonymous."
- Moderation Management: A recovery program and national support group network for people who want to reduce their drinking and make other positive lifestyle changes
- Women For Sobriety: Founded in 1976 by Jean Kirkpatrick, is an organization and self-help program for women alcoholics
- Self Help Group Locator: Provides information (searchable by zip code) for non12-Step self-help group meetings, including Moderation Management, SMART Recovery, Inc.,. SOS a (secular organization for sobriety), WFS (woman for sobriety), and Life Ring
- HAMS Harm Reduction Network: HAMS stands for Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation. The HAMS Harm Reduction Network is a free of charge peer-led support group for people who use alcohol or other mood altering substances
- 24/7 Help Yourself: A website developed from years of research and development into managing addictive behavior and behavioral change to provide guidance and support to manage your alcohol consumption
Whichever type of meeting you choose, what makes it meaningful is that you accept and agree with the basic format, philosophy and guidelines for achieving recovery.
Learn How to Start a Meeting
For some individuals, there are not their preferred meeting types easily accessible. Then learning how to start a meeting might be a good idea. The benefits, of starting a meeting, are two-fold:
1. You are assured that you will have a meeting that reflects your values.
2. Starting a meeting is a good way to get and give support.
Most, if not all of the recovery support meetings listed in this article offer training in how to start a meeting.
Through the years, recovery and the internet have grown
Connecting with Recovering People Online
If for some reason, there are no meetings near you, or you are unable to start a meeting, chat rooms may be the only way to find a meeting that honors your values, beliefs, and preferred method of recovery.
Discussing online self-help support groups as the precursor to e-therapy, Martha Ainsworth notes "the enduring success of these groups has firmly established the potential of computer-mediated communication to enable discussion of sensitive personal issues."
I found my first online meeting about 23 years ago. I had meetings that I attended in person, but I liked being able to connect to people around the world at 2 AM if I thought it would be helpful to my recovery. My first contact was a man in Russia, and we still communicate to this day.
The good news is that there are many sites and researching your preferred method of recovery is through the traditional Google method that you use for most other questions.
Some of these sites offer “voice chat” that can make participation in the meeting seem more like attending a meeting. For others, you just type your message and wait for a response.
What Makes it a Valuable Support Site
In good online support groups, members stick around long after they've received the support they were seeking. They stay because they want to give others what they found in the group. Psychologists call this "high group cohesion," and it is the pinnacle of group achievement.
Just as you go to a meeting to check it out, entering an internet meeting and seeing how the group members treat one another will help you decide if this is the type of meeting that will meet your needs.
No matter the language, there's a meeting
Choices in Recovery Supportive Meetings
In Person or Internet - Which type of Recovery Supportive Meeting Works for You?
Meetings When You Travel
For individuals who travel and are unfamiliar with a city, having access to various types of internet recovery supportive meetings can help them feel connected away from home.
Online Education about Addiction and Recovery
We are all educated today by seminars, webinars, “go to meetings”, and e-books. As a result, we're familiar with long-distance instructions, and learning about our recovery is no different. Finding educational resources online is a logical step in learning how to change for the better.
Many Ways to Recover
Many Paths, Many Avenues to Explore, and Many People Recovering Daily
As you can see, there are many paths and roads to a successful recovery. Use what is helpful, authentic and genuine for you, and I’m sure that you too will experience long term recovery, and who knows, I might just be in one of those rooms with you some day, or online advocating.
So we don't forget: The new Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) definition for recovery is:
© 2013 Marilyn L Davis