In 2018, an estimated 20.3 million Americans had a substance use disorder related to drugs or alcohol, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Substance use disorder is a chronic but treatable condition, and the first step in creating an addiction treatment plan is asking for help.
Addiction Recovery Support
Effective interventions address a patient’s individual needs and often include a combination of medication, behavioral therapy, and long-term follow-up to prevent relapse. According to SAMHSA, there are four major elements of recovery:
- Health: Managing addiction through medication and behavioral counseling, which can help patients modify attitudes about drug use and promote healthy behavior.
- Home: Having access to safe and stable housing.
- Purpose: Engaging in meaningful activities, having a source income, and independence.
- Community: Having relationships and networks that provide social support.
Many treatment programs encourage participants to attend support groups during and after treatment as part of the community dimension of recovery. While these are not a substitute for medication and counseling, community-based groups can be a valuable source of support during and after addiction treatment.
12-Step Facilitation Therapy
The most well-known addiction recovery support communities are 12-step groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous. These programs are based on three key principles:
- Acceptance that addiction is a chronic disease and drug use has made life unmanageable; that willpower alone is not enough to overcome addiction; and that abstinence is the only option.
- Surrender to a higher power, accepting support from recovering peers, and following the steps laid out by the program.
- Active involvement in meetings. These follow a group therapy model, which promotes abstinence and healthy lifestyles through peer discussion.
While research studies have shown that 12-step programs can be effective for treating alcohol dependence, more research is needed to establish its effectiveness for forms of substance abuse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Finding a Group
Inpatient addiction facilities often host 12-step groups as part of their treatment programs, but self-supporting, peer-led meetings are also held throughout the country and open to the public.
- Ask your addiction treatment provider about support groups in your region.
- Find information about local meetings on 12-step websites, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous.
- Many private-sector groups also offer resources in their communities. Contact your local hospital, treatment center, or faith-based organization to ask about addiction recovery support groups.
- If you are unable to attend an in-person support group, you can find help online. SAMHSA compiled a list of virtual recovery resources and online support communities that coordinate virtual hangouts, Skype meetings, and more.