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What to know about support groups for alcoholics

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 02, 2021

The consumption of alcohol is common in the United States. Over 85.6% of people have had alcohol at least once in their lives regardless of their gender and age. As such, alcoholism has become a common problem. Support groups for people who have alcoholism are an effective solution to solve this problem. 

Alcohol Use Disorder and Alcoholism

Alcohol alters normal brain function. It affects emotions, memory, and impulse control. Uncontrollable drinking can lead to alcohol use disorder, where you can’t control your drinking despite it having negative socioeconomic, occupational, and health effects on your lives.

If you have alcohol use disorder, you will show:

  • Inability to stop or reduce your frequency of drinking — even after you make attempts to stop
  • Negative emotions — including anxiety and irritability — when you’re not drinking
  • A persistent urge to drink even after you quit drinking alcohol

Support Groups for People With Alcoholism

Support groups offer help in fighting these effects. These groups act as emotional support systems to help you fight this disorder.

In emotional support groups for alcoholics, you can relate with other people having the same condition. Peers can positively help you remain sober.

There are various types of groups that offer emotional support, depending on your preference. The most common groups are categorized based on:

  • Gender
  • Age groups
  • Religion (some places of worship host groups for their and other community members)
  • Mental health condition

How Do Support Groups Help People With Alcoholism

If you are willing to commit to alcohol abstinence, you should consider joining a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous — or AA. Such groups generally keep your identity anonymous to maintain your privacy.

Listening to peers having an experience with or a history of alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction may help you get the confidence to push forward your sobriety process. Commitment to a support group and reducing alcohol intake will ultimately lower the chances of engaging in high-risk behaviors that could affect you negatively.

Support Group Programs

Most support groups for alcoholic people globally have a variety of programs that can help you be sober. Here are some examples.

Twelve-step facilitation therapy. Also called the 12-step program, it’s one of the main recovery methods used by AA for their members.

Here, you’re assigned a sponsor, who helps you start and work through the programs.

The essence of AA’s 12 Steps is as follows:

  • Step 1. Admit your powerlessness over alcohol.
  • Step 2. Accept that God will help you through the journey.
  • Step 3. Decide to acknowledge God’s existence.
  • Step 4. Make a moral checklist of yourself.
  • Step 5. Come clean about your flaws to yourself, to other people, and to God.
  • Step 6. Believe that God will correct your behavioral flaws.
  • Step 7. Ask God to solve your problems.
  • Step 8. Make a list of people hurt because of your addiction, and agree to correct the situation.
  • Step 9. Correct the wrongs you did against these individuals where you can.
  • Step 10. Continue making a checklist of yourself, and admit it when you are wrong.
  • Step 11. Pray and meditate to connect with God.
  • Step 12. Spread the message of being spiritually awakened to other people struggling with alcoholism, and apply it to your daily life.

SMART Recovery. More formally known as Self-Management and Recovery Training, this is a scientific approach to overcome addiction and is broken down into four phases:

  • Motivating yourself. Building and maintaining your motivation to remain sober. 
  • Coping with your urges. Understanding what triggers your desire to drink.
  • Managing your behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Recognizing that challenging emotions may arise and learning that avoiding a relapse needs self-acceptance.
  • Forming a lifestyle balance. Setting realistic and achievable targets, and making small but consistent changes to turn your life around while recovering.
WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

American Addiction Centers: "Alcohol Support Groups & Recovery Programs.", "How Does SMART Recovery Work?.

HHS Author Manuscripts: "The Role of Self-Efficacy in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders."

National Center for Biotechnology Information: "The Role of Self-Efficacy in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders.”

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: "Alcohol Facts and Statistics."

Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation: "Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction."

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