If you’re in recovery from addiction, you’ve probably been advised to attend recovery support group meetings (also known as Mutual Aid groups).
You may have many questions about support group meetings, but if you’re willing to participate, here’s the good new: There’s a growing variety of recovery support group options and you can choose one that matches your outlook and your needs.
Read on to learn about different types of recovery meetings and find out what options are available to you.
What’s Your Style?
Let’s start by taking a look at a framework for understanding how recovery support meetings are organized. These descriptions are based on writings from William L. White, noted addiction and recovery researcher, writer and historian. His framework outlines three recovery perspectives: faith-based, spiritual, and secular. While distinctly different, all of these programs suggest that recovery involves redefining values, reconnecting with one’s strengths, re-imagining life’s purpose, and restructuring life’s activities.
- Faith-based frameworks of recovery assert that addiction problems can be resolved through adherence to the beliefs, rituals, and traditions of religion. In this framework, it is through religious practice that recovery can be initiated and sustained.
Two examples of faith-based groups are Celebrate Recovery, a Christ centered recovery program and the Buddhist Recovery Network, promoting mindfulness and meditation and grounded in Buddhist principles of compassion and interdependence.
- Spirituality, as a framework of recovery, is rooted in the philosophy that addiction can be curtailed when we connect with resources inside of and outside ourselves. An internal “search for meaning” as well as acts of restitution and service, combine to help us discover our authentic selves and sustain our recovery. Spiritual programs of recovery include acknowledgement of some sort of higher power as a key factor in the recovery process. Some people with a spiritual orientation also follow the tenets of a particular religious tradition.
Twelve Step Recovery programs are spiritually based and there are specific programs for various addictions and behavioral struggles. Some examples of 12 Step programs are Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and Al-Anon, a 12 step program for family members, loved ones and friends of someone who is struggling with addiction. Participants in these programs mark their recovery by their progression through 12 successive steps that emphasize specific addiction-related issues.
- Secular recovery does not rely on any religious or spiritual ideas. It is based on the belief that we can rationally direct own process of change. With reliance on scientific evidence to guide behavioral interventions, secular recovery programs help people stop harmful patterns and build healthy behaviors.
SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is a secular self-empowering, science-based mutual support group for abstaining from any substance or activity addiction. Participants are taught to use specific tools for coping with urges, managing thoughts and behaviors and living a balanced life.
Another secular recovery program is LifeRing. The LifeRing approach is based on people developing, refining, and sharing their personal strategies for continued abstinence and crafting a rewarding life in recovery.
Most of these recovery groups also have websites that provide information on local, face-to-face meetings as well as on-line meetings (Yes! You can attend a meeting without leaving your house!)
Which of these recovery styles best matches your perspective? What meetings are you interested in trying?