Alcohol support groups are most helpful in early recovery, but become slightly less so over time.
Why is this?
Because in early recovery, we need help in order to stay sober. We need the experience and stories of other people to help us to find our path. And we need the support from others who are on the same path we are on.
We need people we can relate to. If you are surrounded by people who have never experienced a drinking problem or drug addiction, then how are you going to share your feelings about wanting to drink? How are you going to express your frustration with early sobriety? Instinctively you would know that the people listening could not really understand you; could not really empathize with you. And so if you cannot find peers to connect with in early recovery then you’re going to be at a huge disadvantage.
As we progress in our recovery, we still have a tendency to stay connected with other recovering addicts and alcoholics. However, this becomes less important over time as a means of maintaining sobriety. What happens is that a shift occurs in our growth and we start to push ourselves to grow as an individual.
I would even go so far as to say that anyone who remains dependent on a social solution for their sobriety is in danger of relapsing, and therefore the key for that type of person is to branch out in their recovery efforts. Support groups are helpful, and can even be a part of long term sobriety, but to depend on them is a mistake in my opinion.
When I was attending meetings in early recovery, I noticed that many people who continuously relapsed and “kept coming back” were addicted to the support group as much as they were addicted to their drug of choice. They did not have a problem coming to meetings….they had a problem staying clean and sober. And it almost seemed like their dependency on group therapy was hindering their recovery efforts in a way.
I’m not saying that group support or meetings are bad for recovery. What I’m saying is that a dependency on them is bad for recovery. Those who are entering long term sobriety would do well to make a holistic effort and seek a more balanced path to recovery. For me, this meant an expansive program that touched on:
– The push for more education.
– More exercise and fitness.
– Healthier choices in all areas of my life.
– Quitting smoking.
– Working with recovering addicts and alcoholics on regular basis.
– Less group therapy and less meetings.
That was my path in recovery, and it has served me very well over the last 8 years. Some people might choose to focus on groups or meetings in the long term and that is great if it works for them. This is the path that has worked for me and I see a lot of potential in it for others.