Addiction Support Groups
Addiction Support Groups such as AA are a principle behind Step one is “surrender”, this means apart from getting “honest” and admitting being an addict/alcoholic it literally means allowing others to guide ones recovery. It refers to surrendering the Ego as opposed to running on “self will”. The idea is addicts have fragile, weak or weakened Ego’s either due to early environment or as a result of addiction. The slogan is “surrender to win”, addicts tend to demand and want things their way.
Addiction and Alcoholism Treatment support groups were started by two Alcoholics desperate for help having exhausted every possible medical, psychiatric, charitable and religious support offered at the time in1930’s USA and Europe. They formed what we now know as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and these Addiction Support Groups quickly grew internationally, a non-professional, self help group, based on mutual support “one alcoholic can best understand and help another”
This life-support network is now spread across the globe helping hundreds of millions of people who share a common desire to overcome many different addictions, not just alcoholism. It is said that social interactions increase the probability of success due to collective emotions, energy and common aims releasing brain chemistry during active engagement meetings, producing feelings of contentment naturally.
We use the term “in recovery” to identify being abstinent as opposed to being in relapse or active addiction.
In Twelve step recovery we understand the paradox that “Self-knowledge avails us nothing.” This means no matter how much we learn about addiction theory we still need to commit to treatment and practice basic recovery rituals to stay abstinent, knowledge is meaningless without the action. AA always suggested 90 meetings in the first 90 days, why? This is an important question for psychologists, whether as therapists, life coaches, or as individuals wanting to change. In a recent article by B. Koerner about AA Addiction Support Groups, he explores some of the elements of how AA creates long-term positive behavioral change;
Early days: You are most at risk of relapse as a newcomer.
Repetition: Addiction is repeated self destructive behaviour so requires an opposing force.
Discipline: Most addicts lack discipline and will learn valuable self managing techniques.
Structure: The most difficult part of change is we tend to revert to what we’ve always done. “The familiar is seductive.” Changing habits is the toughest part of long-term behavioural change. AA is structured to be every bit as habit forming as alcohol.
Being committed: Being committed a key to succeeding in recovery, “half measures avail us nothing”.
New environment: To feel safe and confident to open up and share requires familiarity and consistency gained through regular attendance.
Increase self-efficacy: The group provides members with support and thus helps maintain the belief in the possibility of change.
Form groups or relationships: One of the keys behind long-term positive behavioural change is the power of the group. Whether through accountability, responsibility or support, individuals are more likely to continue change within a united context.
Making friends: You are more likely to make friends and get over trust barriers by intensive participation and are prone to loneliness in early recovery.
Sudden change: Most addicts and alcoholics have a lot of free time on their hands suddenly and are prone to boredom.
Learning the program: To adopt a new belief system that will go against the addict’s nature it requires intensive reprogramming so as not to use again.
Helping others: Even as relative newcomers can help new or old members by reminding them where they came from. We take pride in being able to help others.
Attending addiction support groupsIt may seem like a lot of meetings and overwhelming to the beginner. Think of it as medicine. If you are sick or have any other disease, you take your medication, exercise and eat well; it’s no different for alcoholism and addiction. It is a disease. It’s only 7 hours per week, plus, it’s a great time to decompress, think and reflect on what’s happened. One day at a time…and its free. At Hope Rehab Center Thailand we will take you to outside meetings and we have our own onsite meeting.
Here is a brief summary of the AA program:
- Step 1: Admit powerlessness over addiction and the unmanageability it causes.
- Step 2/3: The so called “spiritual” steps. We accept outside help to restore control of our lives. We learn to “let go” of difficult emotions,” Using the phrase “Helping Power” instead of “Higher Power” can benefit some.
- Step 4/5: Work through our significant life events, hurts and fears that cause us anxiety and conflict.
- Step 6/7: List our dysfunctional behaviour and personality traits.
- Step 8/9: Make amends to those we hurt and change our behaviour.
- Step 10/11/12: Daily maintenance steps, checking our behaviour regularly, meditation and helping others.
A spiritual program not religious: One of the biggest blocks for many is the use of the word God in the AA literature, although it’s always qualified with “as we understand him” more recently the word Higher Power (HP) is being used. Taken in its original context, written 80 years ago by recovering alcoholics in America they were only trying to convey the message that much of the solution is best described as spiritual. The reason being is to find and nurture hope, faith and optimism, or a sustainable belief in oneself and a willingness to persevere through uncertainty and setbacks in order to remain clean and sober. Many do this by accepting a form of what we now call spirituality or psychologists call positive psychology. Developing a sense of meaning and overall purpose is said to be equally important also.
One clients experiense
Hello, I just have to share this with you Simon!!
What a morning. I woke up in floods of tears reflecting on 90 days clean and sober today. I just had tears of joy pouring out of me. I literally cannot believe it. I didn’t think it was possible. The local meetings are great and I have made some clean friends. I found myself a sponsor. She is amazing! She’s a hard ass who seems to know how to communicate with me so that I don’t shut down. I’m excited to start step one with her. And I feel like I can’t take any credit. I found myself thanking God. So hows this for cool: I accidentally read June 10 of the just for today book yesterday, so I decided to read June 9 today. And how perfect. My higher power did a magic little switcheroo on me!! It says, just for today I will acknowledge the miracle of my recovery and be grateful that I’ve found it. I got down on my knees for the first time this morning, since I begged god to help me before I went into rehab. And I prayed. I’m really overcome today. I couldn’t have done any of this without you and everyone at Hope. I love you all so much. 90 days isn’t a lot of time, but you know this has already been beyond my wildest dreams so I can’t even imagine what the future holds. Thank you so much for your ongoing support. All in all, feeling good!! Hope you are all also well. Thank you for letting me share that with you!! K______ NZ