Futures Recovery

How Addiction Support Groups Have Changed Since the Pandemic

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Recovery from addiction to alcohol or drugs can be tough. Not only is taking the first step and getting help sometimes very difficult to do but staying sober over time can also be a task. In 12-Step meetings, you’ll often hear someone say to the newcomer, “It’s easier to get sober than stay sober.” And while this can be a matter of opinion and unique to each situation, one thing is certain, it takes work and commitment to stay sober long-term. 

One of the best ways to stay in recovery from alcohol or drugs is to have strong support for your recovery in the real world, once you leave treatment. Many people find that while in treatment they are more easily able to forget about drugs or alcohol and focus on their recovery. However, once a person leaves clinical treatment, they are back to their old life and that can be very challenging. 

Old haunts, drinking buddies, happy hours at work, holiday parties, and more can really tempt someone—especially someone new to sobriety. When faced with these temptations and old habits people often think, “Just one more time for old times sake will be okay’ or “I’ll just have one drink, what harm will that do?” the list goes on. But for anyone who has traveled this road of temptation and given in, they know all too well this simply isn’t true. 

For alcoholics, one drink really never is what happens. And for those with drug issues, often relapsing once the body has been free of that substance for a period of time can lead to overdose. So, despite romanticizing that ‘one’ drink or that one-time drug use, the reality is that giving in to temptation can result in not only getting back into the addiction but also overdose and death. 

As mentioned, one of the best ways to protect your sobriety is to have a strong support group at home or wherever it is you go after treatment. For some, this comes easily with loving and supportive family and friends. Others aren’t so lucky and need to establish new friends and a new way of life. Whether you have a strong family and friend support group or not getting connected with a support group is crucial to staying sober. 

Support Groups During COVID-19

It’s one thing to stay sober when in treatment, it’s another to stay sober outside of treatment. For this reason, support groups can provide immeasurable help to the newly sober individual as well as the person with 20 or 30 years in recovery. In fact, there are many who have long-term sobriety who don’t ever miss a meeting in their support group. They tout the benefits of these support groups as the way they stay sober for so long. 

12-Step Support Groups 

Today, there are numerous different support groups. Finding one that you connect with is easier today than ever before. For many years, the 12-Step group, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the only support group for alcoholics. This 12-Step group is not only one of the first alcoholic support groups but also the most relied upon even today. This group began in the 1930s and was started by two alcoholic men in recovery who wanted to help others recover too. An offshoot of AA is Narcotics Anonymous or NA. This group is based on the same 12-Steps of AA but geared towards those with drug issues, not alcohol. 

When it comes to AA and NA meetings they were traditionally held in person in various locations. From ‘clubhouses’ to church basements, AA and NA groups meet in various locations across the globe. In fact, according to AA, there are groups in more than 180 nations, AA membership is more than two million, and the AA Big Book has been translated into more than 70 different languages. 

AA is a very accessible and diverse support group that can help individuals newly sober as well as those who have years of sobriety. When the pandemic began, this resource for so many responded quickly and adapted for the quarantine. AA meetings began to utilize not only outdoor meeting spaces but also Zoom. Zoom began the advent of online AA and NA meetings. Now that the pandemic is subsiding and things are getting back to a more normal existence, many of these meetings have returned to being in person, but have also kept their online venue. Other meetings have opted to stay online only. While being in person definitely has its benefits (fellowship, connecting with others, being able to chat before and after the meetings, etc.) online meetings also offer some benefits. 

Online AA and NA meetings allow anyone with a computer or phone to connect with others in real-time 24 hours a day. There are online meetings now all over the world and all you have to do is click on the link and you’re there. This has added a new dimension to recovery and connection. While it may not be in person, many are finding online meetings as a strong source of support. One of the reasons is that, as mentioned, you can ‘go to’ a meeting any time of day and no matter where you are. You can find real-time AA meetings here

SMART Recovery Groups 

SMART Recovery also has made getting support for sobriety online easier too. SMART Recovery, which stands for Self-management and Recovery Training, has an online forum offering meetings, chat rooms, and forums. These are also available 24/7 and easily accessible. In addition, SMART offers various resources and tools online. You can connect with SMART groups and resources here

Celebrate Recovery 

Celebrate Recovery (CR) is a Christ-centered 12-Step group. This support group for not only those in recovery but also family and friends of those with addiction are held in churches. With the pandemic and recovery, this group also established some online meetings via Zoom, Facebook Live, and other platforms. Finding an online Celebrate Recovery meeting isn’t quite as easy. For this support group, which has helped to support many in recovery from alcohol or drugs, you’ll need to find your local chapter of CR and contact them for meeting IDs and invites. 

There are other lesser-known support groups for those recovering from alcohol and drugs. Search online for these support groups to learn more about what they do to help you stay sober and if they have online groups. 

While the pandemic has caused much stress, feelings of isolation, and dismay, the advent of online meetings has been a blessing in the midst of it all. Online meetings enable those who don’t have transportation, those with health issues who can’t get around, and even those who work or are unable to find or afford childcare to attend meetings. This is a huge blessing for many. And as in-person meetings slowly come back around, online meetings can provide extra support and enable individuals to get in more meetings than before. 

Additionally, meeting with other individuals who are staying sober or trying to stay sober in various places around the country and world can really show you that you aren’t alone. You can also get insight that may be different from attending only local meetings. It can also add an element of fun to attend a meeting in another country or state. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or drugs, Futures Recovery Healthcare can help. We offer evidence-based treatment programs for adults in need. In addition, our alumni group is one of the most active and vibrant in the nation. This group provides valuable support for all once they leave clinical treatment. Those who go to Futures for clinical treatment find they aren’t alone even after they leave treatment. 

To learn more about how Futures can help you contact us online or call 866-804-2098.

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