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Recovery Support Meetings - What Type is Right for You?

Updated on March 9, 2015
Recovery Support Groups and Meetings need to provide you information that will help you recover.
Recovery Support Groups and Meetings need to provide you information that will help you recover. | Source

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.

Rich, poor, black, white, young, old, male and female - we all benefit from mutual support.
Rich, poor, black, white, young, old, male and female - we all benefit from mutual support. | Source

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

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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.

Just as people come in all shapes and sizes, recovery support meetings can meet the requirements of many philosophies
Just as people come in all shapes and sizes, recovery support meetings can meet the requirements of many philosophies | Source

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?

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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.

Christian

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."

Buddhist Recovery Network

An organization that supports the use of Buddhist teachings and practices to help overcome addictions

Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons, and Significant Others

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

Catholic

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

Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints

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

My first online chat was 23 years ago.  He was Russian and wanted to practice his English.  I was new in recovery and wanted advice.
My first online chat was 23 years ago. He was Russian and wanted to practice his English. I was new in recovery and wanted advice. | Source

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

Language is not a barrier to support
Language is not a barrier to support | Source

Choices in Recovery Supportive Meetings

In Person or Internet - Which type of Recovery Supportive Meeting Works for You?

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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

Recovery is not one size fits all.  There are many ways and many paths to recovery.
Recovery is not one size fits all. There are many ways and many paths to recovery. | Source

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:

“A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

© 2013 Marilyn L Davis

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    • profile image

      Craig 21 months ago from Dushore, pa

      I like this.

      The list that you have here may serve as a resource list for my staff so will use it at our meetings.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 4 years ago from Georgia

      None of the links are for self-promotion; that is the issue for overly promotional. If your links are for information or to substantiate what you are writing about, it is my understanding that they are okay. Clearly with this topic - meetings, there were a lot to include so it was not promotional for one type of recovery supportive meeting over another.

      Hope that clarifies it for you. Marilyn

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 4 years ago from Georgia

      You make some excellent points Mighty Mom. I could not agree with you more that disparaging other programs is not attractive to me. However, for that particular recovery supportive meeting, it is part of their "calling card."

      As I said in the hub, how and where I got my recovery foundation 24 years ago, or where I continue to gain strength and support, is not the important feature of this hub, but to give people options. Hopefully, they can find one that meets their needs.

      Thanks for visiting MM.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 4 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Excellent overview of the 360 degrees of options available.

      I'm a bit concerned with any organization that bills itself as the "arch-rival" of AA. Unless your goal is to make money off people's addictions, there should be no perceived competition for members. We're all trying to save the lives of very sick people who, without help, WILL ultimately die.

      I'm also all for helping people moderate their drinking.

      If you are able to cut back and control your drinking without

      completely obsessing about it, great for you.

      I've known many people who came into AA hoping to learn to drink normally. They learn that once you cross that invisible line where you cannot stop or cannot stay stopped, there is no going back to "moderate" drinking.

      But hey, it's not for me to disparage other programs. Whatever keeps you sober!!

      Loved Jamie Lee Curtis' quote. I've often wondered how those with only a clinical perspective can be effective when, as you have so beautifully pointed out, sharing of lived experience is essential!

      Thanks for inviting me over to your hub. MM

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 4 years ago from Georgia

      Another "Thank you, Valerie" is in order then. I'll check it out.

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 4 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Absolutely. Great article. I posted it on my addiction treatment Pinterest board.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 4 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Valerie.

      I also think that individuals who may think they are bored with the "same people saying the same thing" can get a renewed perspective on their recovery if they explore all of the other options - sometimes there is a new approach, or for others, "there's no place like - a home group."

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 4 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Very informative; would be helpful to newcomer searching for help with his or her recovery.