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Relapse Prevention Support Groups
Relapse prevention support groups are an organized group of individuals who share the common experience of having previously struggled with a drug or alcohol addiction problem. These groups of former addict's offers addiction support that provides a greater level of understanding than their loved ones can extend to them; this is only because these fellow addicts have experienced similar substance abuse related problems, giving them the opportunity to express genuine empathy.
Relapse prevention support groups will often help a former addict to learn new ways to handle some of the challenges that are involved with maintaining long term sobriety; additionally, these groups can help the former addict to apply the healthy alternative behaviors that they have learned in treatment, in order to prevent a drug or alcohol relapse.
One characteristic that is unique to drug and alcohol relapse prevention support groups is the mutual encouragement that members with similar backgrounds are able to provide one another. The empathy and validation that is provided by other relapse prevention support group members can often help to facilitate personal growth and change in a way that one on one counseling cannot; although experts and professionals may be able to provide an extensive amount of support and positive direction, the mutual exchange of information that is shared between group members who have also struggled with addiction can often be a much more powerful experience.
Types of Relapse Prevention Support Groups
Most drug and alcohol relapse prevention support groups are facilitated or led by other former addicts, in conjunction with existing organizations, such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and various other groups; additionally, there are also a number of web-based relapse prevention support groups that offer support to former addicts and their families through online meetings and message boards, that can often be accessed with the click of the mouse.
Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous 12-step groups-These types of relapse prevention support groups follow the principles of the twelve step treatment model that was originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Twelve Step support groups are generally organized in accordance with strict guidelines that preserve the anonymity of every individual and all of the information that is shared within the structure of the group. Meetings are often held daily at specific times in various locations within most cities. In order for a person to find a location and time that works for them, is it often as easy as just typing the name of the group into their internet search engine.
In 12-step drug and alcohol relapse prevention support groups, working the "steps" is not supposed to constitute religion, though growing spiritually is encouraged to heal; this is accomplished through admitting that they are powerless and by going into agreement with the belief that only a Higher Power can restore their life to sanity. Other aspects of a 12-step program include an addict taking a personal inventory of one's life and making amends to those who have been harmed because of their addiction. The primary goal of all 12 step relapse prevention support groups are to begin a process of healing issues from the past, allowing individuals in the group to be able to face their life with a greater level of openness and honesty. The strength that comes through sharing hope filled experiences within this community is often what helps former addicts to maintain their long term sobriety.
Types of Relapse Prevention Support Groups
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)-The only requirement for attending these types of relapse prevention support groups is that an individual has the desire to stay sober. Participants in these groups will share experiences, stages of life, and stories of hope.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) - is specifically designed for drug addiction problems such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and various other types of illicit and prescription drugs. Many of these types of relapse prevention support groups are specialized according to a particular drug, as each specific addiction lends itself to a variety of different challenges. A good example of this is a former addict who was addicted to marijuana being in a meeting with an individual who has been addicted to heroin for over 20 years; these two individuals would naturally be worlds apart in relation to the types of challenges that their addictions have presented.
Twelve Step support groups for the families of alcoholics and addicts, such as Al-Anon, are there to serve the loved ones of alcoholics; Alateen, which serves the teen members of families of alcoholics and Nar-Anon, which offers support to friends and families of individuals with drug addiction problems, are also easily accessible.
On-line Support Groups-There is a great number of online drug and alcohol relapse support groups that offer everything from tips, books and advice about maintaining sobriety, to live meetings that are held at specific intervals during the week. Listed below are a few of the online resources that are currently available.
SoberRecovery- This online resource is one of many web-based sights that offer drug and alcohol relapse prevention support groups via the internet. SoberRecovery offers online relapse prevention education and even offers meetings for individuals who are classified as "chronic relapsers;" the group accomplishes this, through posting meeting lists online with the dates and times of when specific relapse prevention support groups will be meeting, and through hosting addiction support message boards. SoberRecovery also provides many internet links that a former addict can go to obtain additional support and information, with just the click of the mouse. SoberRecovery boasts of a community of over 36,000 recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.
SMART Recovery- is one of the many relapse prevention support groups that assist people in maintaining their recovery; this program allows an individual to participate in mutual help groups that are free of charge. This group provides individuals around the globe with resources that can assist them in starting one of these relapse prevention support groups in their town by offering them: free downloadable Meeting Facilitator Manuals, on-line training sessions for people who wish to facilitate meetings in their own town, the assistance of the staff at their main office and further offer local assistance through some of their regional offices. The SMART recovery relapse prevention support groups offer a 4 point program which aims to help former addicts in maintaining their motivation to stay sober. SMART Recovery accomplishes this by helping them to cope with urges through showing them how to manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; thus, in turn, will help them to live a much more balanced life.
Christians in Recovery-This online internet community is a religious based web-based site that offers drug and alcohol relapse prevention support groups, and other types of additional services; some of these services are offered at no charge, while others can only be accessed by those individuals who pay a monthly membership fee. The portion of Christians in Recovery that can be accessed free of charge, provides an individual who has recovered from a drug or alcohol addiction several daily relapse prevention support groups that are held at various times throughout the day, a complete database of ministries and counselors, discussions forums, online journals, access to the latest addiction recovery news, and to the groups monthly magazine. Christians in Recovery offers special benefits for individuals who pay a fee to join, such as daily news articles and thousands of pages of addiction help information and various other online recovery tools that will help the individual to maintain their recovery; additionally, the resources that this group provides may help a former addict to continue to live a balanced life through sharing their challenges while attending regular relapse prevention support groups.
Addictions and Recovery.org-This online web based site is one of the relapse prevention support groups that offers free information about addition and recovery; additionally, this site offers many step-by-step relapse prevention strategies. Addiction and Recovery.org suggests that an addict does not recover from an addiction by just stopping using drugs or alcohol, but instead by creating a new life, in which they will not want to use; thus, the more that a former addict attempts to hold onto their old life after going through treatment, the worse they will do and the greater chance that they will experience a drug or alcohol relapse. This is one of the online relapse prevention support groups that educates individuals about avoiding high-risk situations that are commonly described by the acronym, HALT; Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired; additionally, this group encourages former addicts to use their addictions as an opportunity for positive change, so that they may be able to look back on these circumstances as one of the best things that has ever happened to them.
Women For Sobriety (WFS)-is a non-profit web-based organization that is one of the most popular relapse prevention support groups for women who have struggled with drug and alcohol addiction problems. WFS help groups can be found all across the country and abroad, and although they believe that the physiological recovery from an addiction is the same for both sexes, the group was born as they recognized that the emotional needs form women in recovery are very different from those of men. The group's purpose is to help all women to continue on their addiction recovery path, through discovery of self, which can be gained by sharing experiences in drug and alcohol relapse prevention support groups. The primary goal of Women For Sobriety (WFS) is in helping women who have overcome their addictions to continue to embrace their new positive lifestyle.
Online Aftercare Programs-There are many online aftercare programs that are committed to helping former addicts, long after they have completed or drug rehab program. These aftercare programs will generally offer personalized relapse prevention plans, online aftercare coaching and support, relapse prevention support groups; additionally, they will help to advise a former addict on finding work and continuing their education. Most of these types of programs range from 6-12 weeks, in order to ensure that the former addict stays on the right path.
Relapse prevention support groups can be very instrumental in helping a former addict to be able to maintain healthy changes in their behaviors, so that they do not revert back to reaching for drugs or alcohol. The substance abuse support group will often become a part of the person's daily life that encourages high functioning by giving reminders about the importance of maintaining abstinence; additionally, these fellow former addicts can provide support when they are feeling down, or if they are being tempted toward old addictive patterns. Quality relapse prevention support groups can provide an opportunity for a former addict to be able to own the changes they have made, by helping newcomers, which could contribute to a positive prognosis for both individuals.
Although relapse prevention support groups can often help a person who has had prior struggles with a drug or alcohol addiction, a former addict could potentially be harmed by the group experience as well; although, much of this risk will be dependent on the characteristics of the group's individual members. This occurs most often in relapse prevention support groups, when certain individual's dominate the group with their own agenda, at the expense of other members; in this instance, relapse prevention support groups could possibly have a negative impact on more vulnerable individuals.
Once a person has completed a quality drug treatment program, there is no need for them to go it alone; although having the support of friends and family is an invaluable asset in recovery, relapse prevention support groups can be an even greater asset. The more positive influences that an individual has in their life after attending a drug treatment program, the better their chances of being able to maintain long term sobriety. Recovering from a chronic drug or alcohol addiction is an extremely difficult process; through having a network of individuals that a former addict can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, it can be a lot easier.
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