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  • Writer's pictureMartin Polanco

Finding a Local Support Group

Originally posted October 25, 2016

Seeking treatment for addiction is only one step of the process involved in overcoming dependency to drugs and alcohol. Seeking support after your treatment in order to help get you through the transition is crucial. Without support, it’s easy to stay stuck in addictive patterns, or relapse after addiction treatment is over. The desire to relapse can be hard to overcome on your own, making the need to find a local support group is vital.

You Have a Choice When it Comes to Finding Addiction Support There are many different types of support networks when it comes to overcoming addiction. Most everyone is familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs. They can be found pretty much anywhere, and countless people have attended them and attested to their effectiveness. There have been many studies conducted that claim these programs are successful, and for some they truly are and can be life changing for a recovering addict. There are, however, just as many people that haven’t seen the success they’re hoping for in attending these programs. In fact, the success rate of 12 step programs such as AA fall somewhere around 5-10 percent. This may come as a surprise to those who’ve been led to believe that programs such as these are the end all, be all for recovering addicts looking to make a positive change. However, any support group is better than not having one at all.

AA Isn’t the Only Option Others are surprised to learn that there are actually other types of support groups that don’t follow the creed of traditional 12 step programs that may or may not work. They do in fact exist, and offer an empowering choice to addicts seeking lasting sobriety. Where most 12 step programs instill the idea into the addict that they’re powerless over their addiction, alternative support groups such as SMART Recovery offer recovering addicts the tools to build the motivation and self-confidence necessary to overcome their addictive habits.

SMART Recovery Just because SMART Recovery is approximately 100 times smaller than AA, it doesn’t mean it’s not working to change the lives of people addicted to drugs or alcohol. Just like AA and other 12 step programs, meetings are free. They’re different however, in their approach to helping those seeking recovery. The approach SMART Recovery takes to addiction recovery includes:

  • Teaching Self-Empowerment and Self-Reliance

  • Encouraging Individuals to Recover and Live Satisfying Lives

  • Teaching Tools and Techniques for Self-Directed Change

  • Educational Meetings and Open Discussions

  • Advocating the Appropriate Use of Prescribed Medications and Psychological Treatments

  • Evolvement of Scientific Knowledge as Addiction Recovery Evolves

Instead of using the 12 steps as outlined in many of the better known recovery programs, SMART Recovery uses a 4-point program, with efforts based on scientific knowledge. The 4-Point Program consists of the following:

  • Point 1

Building and Maintaining Motivation

  • Point 2

Coping with Urges

  • Point 3

Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

  • Point 4

Living a Balanced Life In attending SMART Recovery, the recovering addict won’t hear terms such as “addict” or “alcoholic” and encourages those involved in the program to attend only as long as they find it useful. There’s no “higher power” to answer to, which is useful to participants who find the religious dogma of programs such as AA to be a turn-off. Other Addiction Support Networks There’s no one size fits all when it comes to addiction recovery. And many people who are trying to get clean and sober feel that their options have run dry after trying to attend traditional recovery meetings that don’t resonate with them. Becoming aware of the many options available to them (and knowing that AA or NA aren’t the only support groups available), can make all the difference in the world. SMART Recovery ( Women for Sobriety ( Secular Organizations for Sobriety ( Life Ring Secular Recovery (

All of these organizations are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of addicts across the country. Taking a different approach, rather than traditional recovery programs, many find they incorporate more positive methods that encourage people to change their lives and leave addiction behind for good. Recovery should be empowering, not make someone feel powerless over the choices they’ve made and the addiction they face. Support during the recovery process is absolutely fundamental to lasting success, and finding the right support group is vital. Different approaches are going to work for different people, and it’s vital those in recovery know about the many different approaches available. There are many alternative support groups available that have proven to work effectively for those who seeking to change their lives…and step away from addiction for good.

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