Renaissance Ranch

Why is it a Good Idea for a Recovering Addict to Join a Support Group?

Mar 21, 2024

For a recovering addict, the road to sobriety is long, complex, and often lonely. Many consider joining a support group, while others think they can do it alone. Everyone has their own way of doing things, but honestly, joining a support group is one of the best things for a recovering addict. The following professionals explain why.

Dr. Paul Daidone

Dr. Paul Daidone

Medical Director at .

Aids Recovery Through Education and Emotional Regulation

Support groups typically provide educational resources, guest speakers, and workshops centered on addiction recovery. These learning opportunities can provide individuals with useful information, coping strategies, and tools to help them on their recovery journey.

A support group can also help individuals learn to regulate their emotions better. Members who share their feelings and experiences in a safe and supportive environment can develop healthier coping mechanisms and gain insight into their triggers and vulnerabilities. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals struggling with addiction, as many turn to substances as a way to cope with difficult emotions. Individuals who learn healthier ways to manage their emotions can reduce their risk of relapse and continue their recovery journey.

If you want to join an addiction support group, make sure to find one that meets your specific needs and goals. This could include finding a group specifically for people dealing with the same type of addiction as you or those in a similar stage of recovery. Some groups may have a religious or spiritual focus, whereas others may be more secular. Finding a group that meets your needs and makes you feel comfortable is critical.

Empowers Recovery Through Accountability, Belonging, and Motivation

Support groups frequently emphasize accountability, with members holding one another accountable for their actions and progress toward recovery. This accountability can help people stay focused on their recovery goals and avoid the temptation to relapse.

In addition, in a support group, people can share their experiences, challenges, and successes openly and without judgment. This sharing fosters a sense of belonging and validation as members realize they are not alone in their struggles. It can also provide motivation and hope when people see others who have gone through similar experiences and have successfully maintained their sobriety.

Joining an addiction support group is a personal decision based on the individual’s unique situation. It is critical to consider all options and select the most beneficial and supportive approach for one’s specific path to recovery. Additional considerations may include the location, frequency of meetings, and the support group’s specific format or structure.

Steve Carleton

Steve Carleton, LCSW

Chief Clinical Officer of .
Elizabeth Key

Elizabeth Key

Builds Healthy Emotional Regulation

I would advise people to join an addiction support group because addictions thrive in isolation. The antidote for addictive behaviors is healthy connections to other people. An addiction is a way to manage emotions. People who suffer from addiction need to learn to [regulate] their emotions, and the best way to learn this is with other people.

When we are young, we are meant to learn how to [regulate] our emotions with a safe, healthy adult. We learn that we can have all feelings, and all feelings eventually fade and are replaced by new feelings.

When we do not have a safe adult or an adult who can tolerate our feelings, this can look like actual punishment for feelings or subtle dismissal, indicating we should stop feeling that way because the adult does not see it as valid. We get the message that our emotions are not tolerable.

The problem is the emotions do not go away, and addictions develop as a way to cope. To correct this, feeling an emotion in the presence of others leads to increased tolerance and coping, lessening the need to use addictive behavior.

Transformation is Enhanced by Connection

Groups, in general, are shown to be a force multiplier in transformation. In recovery, there is the added aspect of intense shame about the addiction. In this isolation of shame, we disconnect from others, starving us of the vitality of connection.

When we are in contact with others who feel the same shame, we can begin to find a safe connection and holding. The thing the substance or process promised us but was unable to deliver can be delivered by the group.

Even if a person doesn’t make support groups a part of their long-term recovery plan, their willingness to go and be open in the meeting is as important if not more important than what [they get] from the meeting itself. Going and being open is the antidote to addiction.

Ryan Napolitano

Ryan Napolitano

Therapist and Owner of .

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