Your Guide to Addiction Recovery Programs and Groups

To beat an addiction, individuals often require the support of other recovering addicts as well as professionals in the field of substance abuse recovery. Addiction recovery programs provide some of the best chances for long-term recovery by giving substance abusers the physical and psychological support they need to beat substance dependency. Substance abusers who are prepared to turn their lives around have a number of drug and alcohol recovery programs to choose from, including inpatient and self-help recovery programs.

Inpatient Recovery Programs

Inpatient recovery programs are offered by licensed addiction recovery centers that have high standards for medical care. Individuals in inpatient facilities have access to physicians and nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The main goal of inpatient programs is to provide patients with the tools they need to achieve long-term abstinence. The length of stay in the recovery program is determined by the nature and severity of the substance addiction. After leaving an inpatient center, patients are advised to join a support group. This helps them to maintain sobriety. Addiction recovery programs that are offered by luxury facilities often include aftercare programs where patients continue to receive services even after they have been released from the facilities.

What to Expect From Inpatient Recovery Programs

While inpatient recovery programs vary depending on the physical and psychological needs of the patients, certain components remain constant. These components include:

  • Medical supervision, especially when the withdrawal symptoms kick in
  • Comprehensive psychiatric evaluation
  • Prescription and management of required medications
  • Dual diagnosis, which helps the physicians determine whether the patient has other underlying medical conditions
  • Individual, group and family therapy
  • 12-step support groups
  • Relapse prevention education.

Self-Help Recovery Programs

Self-help recovery programs often take the form of 12-step programs, which are provided within the framework of support groups. Twelve-step programs are some of the most popular drug and alcohol recovery programs. They utilize behavioral treatment or therapy as the main mode of treatment. Individuals are required to admit their substance abuse, renounce their lifestyle of addiction and join a support group that can help them to remain sober. These addiction recovery programs share a couple of distinct features, most of which are derived from a book written for Alcoholics Anonymous that was originally published in 1939. Recovery support groups may be divided into two main categories: support groups with a spiritual connection and secular support groups.

Support Groups With a Spiritual Connection

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Alcoholics Anonymous or AA is a self-help recovery organization that is made up of support groups for people who are committed to beating alcoholism. AA is synonymous with the 12 steps of recovery, which have been in use in the United States and Canada for the last 60 years. To help people to overcome their addictions, this alcohol recovery program encourages its members to reach out to a higher power. According to an article published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, research shows that AA attendance often results in a reduction in alcohol use and an increase in abstinence rates. With over 56,500 AA support groups and alcohol addiction recovery programs throughout the United States, most communities have at least one AA support group. Support group meetings may be open, meaning that they allow the attendance of the addict and his or her family members, or closed, meaning that they only allow the attendance of the addict. Members are expected to attend meetings regularly and seek out a sponsor who has managed to successfully maintain sobriety.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Narcotics Anonymous, or NA, is an organization that adapted the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. Just like AA, NA emphasizes a spiritual connection to a higher power. The program is targeted towards men and women for whom drugs have become a major problem. These people come together regularly in support group meetings and help one another to kick addiction and maintain abstinence.

Other self-help organizations in this category include cocaine and heroin anonymous.

Secular Support Groups

  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS). SOS is presented as a secular alternative to 12-step addiction recovery programs such as AA and NA, that encourage people to reach out to a higher power. The program targets substance abusers who would like to separate sobriety from spirituality and religion. The organization credits the individual for maintaining sobriety as opposed to crediting a higher power. SOS is comprised of a network of autonomous local groups that help individuals to achieve and maintain sobriety. The organization has meetings in many cities across the United States. In SOS, sobriety is presented as the number one priority for individuals suffering from alcoholism or addiction. It emphasizes the use of clear communication and scientific knowledge in choosing the most rational approach to living a sober and rewarding life.
  • Rational Recovery (RR). This is a secular self-help recovery program that mainly utilizes Addictive Voice Recognition Techniques. The techniques enable individuals to identify and manage the Addictive Voice, which is defined as any thought or feeling that supports the continued use of drugs and alcohol. The program encourages individuals to make a commitment to stay abstinent. Unlike other addiction recovery programs, attendance of RR support groups is not considered necessary once an individual has learned the techniques.
  • Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery). SMART Recovery is a network of support groups that advocate the use of scientific research in addiction recovery. SMART Recovery supports the use of prescription medications and psychological treatments in the treatment of substance abuse. Since scientific knowledge is constantly evolving, the SMART Recovery program is also constantly evolving. The organization has face-to-face meetings across the United States and daily online meetings.

Support Groups for the Families of Alcohol and Substance Abusers

  • Al-Anon and Alateen. Al-Anon is an organization that is comprised of support groups that are targeted towards friends and family of individuals suffering from alcoholism. In these groups, family members and friends are able to share their personal experiences, discuss difficulties and find effective ways to deal with problems regardless of whether the alcoholics have undergone addiction recovery programs or not. Alateen is a fellowship that is specifically targeted towards younger Al-Anon members, particularly teenagers.
  • Nar-Anon. Nar-Anon, just like Al-Anon, is a fellowship targeted towards friends and family members of drug addicts. Nar-Anon comes in the form of a 12-step program that helps relatives and friends of drug addicts deal with the effects of living with addicts.

What to Expect From Support Groups

Support groups differ depending on the treatment methods in use and whether or not the group is secular or spiritual. However, a typical support group consists of a small group of members who want to recover from addiction. Meetings are either guided by a professional therapist or a sponsor who has acquired and maintained abstinence. During the meeting, members often read and discuss literature on the 12 steps of recovery. For instance, Alcoholics Anonymous support groups read from the 12 steps and 12 traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

If you'd like help finding a recovery program to address the addiction of a loved one, or your own addiction, call us at 1-888-716-9806.

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