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Group 401

Recovery Support Groups: What to Expect and Are They Helpful?

Therapist talking with patients during support group sessionIt can be hard to talk about your feelings. It can be hard to talk to strangers. It may, therefore, seem like it would be uncomfortably strenuous to talk to strangers about your feelings. Despite what you may believe, recovery support groups are proven-successful resources to help those recovering from addiction. Before you say no to a recommendation from a friend, family member, doctor, or counselor to join a recovery support group, learn the benefits of these trusted recovery tools, and what to expect from your first session.

How Can a Support Group Aid Your Recovery?

It is the people—not the support group itself—that make the difference for people taking measures to lead a clean, addiction-free lifestyle. Consider these three critical benefits of support groups:

  1. Support Groups Mitigate Feelings of Loneliness. Too often, people struggling with addiction are plagued by thoughts that they are alone in their emotions and the battle for sobriety. Hearing relatable stories from fellow support group members, and having your feelings validated by them in return will give you a certain sense of normalcy that will bolster your recovery.
  2. Support Groups Offer a Safe Space to Vent. If you have ever tried to explain addiction to a friend or family member who cannot empathize, your words may have been received with a blank stare or a confused expression, despite the best intentions of your loved one. People living with an addiction often learn to bottle their emotions out of a fear that others don’t understand what they’re going through, which can add stress and anxiety to already complicated feelings. Support groups give you a safe space to express your feelings, even if you want to scream, cry, or shout, where you won’t be judged or looked upon with confused disregard.
  3. Support Groups Boost Hope. Support groups bring together people in all phases of the recovery process. Hearing stories from others who have been where you are and are now living days, weeks, or even months drug- and alcohol-free will give you the inspiration and hope needed to follow in their footsteps and achieve your sobriety goals.

What to Expect from Your First Recovery Support Group Meeting

Don’t let a fear of the unknown keep you from confidently walking through the doors of your first addiction recovery support group. Here are a few key things to expect from your new recovery resource:

  • Expect a group of people like you, committed to their recovery, to sit in a circle.
  • You may be informally greeted ad welcomed by fellow students before the session starts.
  • The session will be moderated by a trained professional or counselor.
  • The moderator may encourage first-timers to introduce themselves. Take part in this process if you’re comfortable. Remember that everyone in the room is fighting the same battle, everyone wants to succeed, and no one is judging you.
  • Fellow participants will likely share updates on their progress, admit to relapsing, vent about frustrations, or solicit advice from the group leader or their peers.
  • Consider bringing a buddy. If you are hesitant to go to your first support group meeting alone, ask the group leader if you can bring a friend, family member, or peer from your treatment center. Each group may have rules about attendees, but if it will make the difference between whether or not you go to your first session, it’s worth asking.

Remember that support groups are for just that—giving you support when and how you need it to recover from your addiction and lead your best life. As with any program or commitment, you will get out of it what you put in, so take every opportunity to learn from those around you and strengthen your resolve to claim a life of sobriety.