Benefits of Alcohol Support Groups to Your Sobriety
Especially after you have already attended alcohol rehabilitation treatment, you may feel that you are ready to continue your recovery on your own. However, attending an alcohol support group can be extremely beneficial to your sobriety and help you continue where treatment ended. Although it may seem unnecessary after attending a rehab program, these support groups are actually one of the best options for aftercare (and even as an alternative to traditional treatment for some individuals).
Meeting Others and Making Friends
Traditional rehab is a wonderful way to receive medications, therapy, and other treatment types that can help you, especially in the beginning of your alcohol abuse recovery. However, it can be difficult for many individuals to make friends and meet others in these types of programs, especially those which involve outpatient treatment where all patients leave the facility and go home every night. They will usually attend a group therapy session together, but this kind of interaction doesn’t foster relationships like support groups can.
According to the NIAAA, “Studies show that people involved in MHGs [mutual-help groups, another term for support groups] had more friend support resources than those in outpatient programs.” This difference is especially important because those who do not have a strong social support system to begin with while going through treatment and/or recovery often struggle more. When attending a support group, individuals can make more connections and more friends which can give them a larger support system to fall back on.
The flexibility of these particular programs makes it easier for individuals to participate and attend meetings. It can also be especially beneficial to those who are having difficulty maintaining their sobriety and need reassurance at a specific time. “Often, people can attend MHGs at convenient times, like evenings and weekends, when they are at higher risk of a relapse to drinking.” This also makes it easier for individuals who work or go to school to attend meetings.
The anonymity and the limited restrictions on attendance also add to the flexibility of these programs. As the NIAAA states, “People can attend MHGs as frequently and for as long as they want without… divulging personal information.” This can make many individuals more comfortable attending meetings and more likely to return because they will not feel the pressure to share if they do not desire to do so.
Alcohol support groups can be attended for as long as the individual needs to attend which is different from many other treatment types. And people can return to these types of groups after a long absence if they find that attending is necessary in order for them to better protect their sobriety. The flexibility of meeting times is a wonderful benefit to a person’s overall recovery.
If you are an individual who has spent what money they had to receive treatment at a rehab center, you are likely not looking to attend more expensive treatments. This issue may have also prevented you from attending a rehab center at all because you could not afford it.
However, with alcohol support groups, there is no fee and no need to use insurance. Many individuals all over the world attend programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Secular Organizations for Sobriety which are free of charge and help patients continue or start a method of alcohol treatment when they otherwise would not have been able to afford it.
This will be a great benefit to your sobriety, even if you have already attended rehab, because continuing your treatment will only strengthen your recovery. According to the NIDA, “After a course of intensive treatment, the provider should ensure a transition to less intensive continuing care to support and monitor individuals in their ongoing recovery.” This can be achieved at no cost through a support group.
Specific Groups for Certain Populations
While a general support group can provide many individuals with the help they need, meetings also exist for certain groups of individuals who will benefit from being close to others with similar experiences. These may include:
- LGBTQA individuals
- Individuals with a history of incarceration or abuse
There are also specific support groups for individuals whose loved ones struggle with alcohol abuse and dependence. Al-Anon and Alateen are two groups that particularly help individuals in these situations, and they can actually make it easier for your friend or family member to cope with their feelings on your alcohol problems and to be more likely to be helpful to you during your sobriety.
Good Comparison with Formal Addiction Treatment
According to the NIAAA, “AA participants in a 16-year study did as well in achieving abstinence at the 8-year mark as those in formal treatment (approaching 50 percent), and a group that participated in both AA and formal treatment performed better than formal treatment alone at years 1 and 3.” This means that support groups can be used as an alternative to formal alcohol abuse treatment while attending both can be even more beneficial than one alone. A support group can absolutely benefit your sobriety either on its own or with formal addiction treatment.
In addition, both types of treatment encourage patients to seek out the other, which is wonderful for cementing sobriety. Patients in formal treatment are often set up with a support group afterwards while those in a support group are sometimes encouraged to attend other counseling types, especially if they are struggling with dual mental disorders.
Support groups are more sought out than any other treatment type for alcohol use disorders. Though they usually are not as effective for those with severe addictions or comorbid issues (like depression and bipolar disorder), an individual can transition into a support group after receiving more intensive care and treatment for one of these conditions.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the support group for alcohol abusers is that it can be attended at any time at no cost as long as it helps the individual. While some people may also come and go from meetings, you are likely to find someone with whom you can forge a strong bond which will also help your recovery. Alcohol support groups can help your sobriety in many ways, some of which you will likely not realize until you decide to try this program.