You just completed your 30-day stint in rehab. You learned a great deal about your addiction, including some information about the personal issues that seemed to be driving your need to abuse substances. Your counselor notifies you it’s time to test your sober wings. Now comes the moment of truth.
Simultaneously, this is the moment most exiting patients have been looking forward to both with excitement and trepidation. It’s graduation day. It’s also the time they have to leave the safety of the rehab facility.
Throughout the days and weeks of treatment, patients have been given the opportunity to develop coping skills that will address their specific triggers and temptations. While out in the real world on their own, they will surely encounter situations that put their resolve for sobriety to the test. Some recovering addicts past these tests with flying colors. It’s the ones who still feel a little shaky that need a little extra help staying clean.
When exiting rehab, patients are usually given access to a variety of aftercare programs. Here’s a list of excellent aftercare options:
- Additional outpatient counseling and ongoing group therapy
- Sober living
- Transitional living
- 12 Step meetings
The most prevalent aftercare option is the last one, 12-Step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). All over the world, people meet in churches, classrooms, warehouses, anywhere were people can assemble in privacy. During their time together, members talk about their addictions and recovery. They also work with sponsors to get through the 12 Steps of Recovery
These meeting are designed to offer support between recovering addicts. The members can share experiences while also building camaraderie. It also helps that these groups can be very therapeutic to a recovering addict who is sitting on the edge of relapse. It’s the same kind of support one gets during group therapy in a rehab facility. In fact, group support is a common theme throughout the entire recovery process. The reality is no one really has to fight for sobriety on their own. There should always be someone around to help when things start getting a little dicey.
The question is, “Do 12 Step Programs and Support Groups Really Help After Rehab?” That will be the focus of the following discussion.
How 12 Step Meetings and Support Groups Can Help You Stay Sober
There’s nothing more beautiful in the world of recovery than one recovering addict helping another. After all, who can truly understand the plight of someone who is trying to fight off addiction better than someone who has been through the same process themselves. Doctors can doctor and counselors can counsel, but addicts carry the bond of pain and suffering.
In rehab, many counselors strive to get their patients involved in group therapy. This is important because most patients have isolated themselves from the outside world. In a group setting, they get an opportunity to see they are not alone. Indeed, there are many other folks who are suffering from the disease of addiction. Other benefits of group therapy include:
- Sounding board – when issues arise, patients need someone they can talk to in a frank and honest manner. They need to able to do this without being judged
- Getting encouragement – momentum in recovery can be propelled forward when other recovering addicts can pitch in with encouragement
- Rebuilding social skills – group meeting are a great place for recovering addicts to relearn how to socialize and interact with other people
- Cost savings – on the outside, participation in group therapy sessions cost less than individual therapy sessions, yet tend to be just as beneficial
- Self-learning – we can all learn more about ourselves through interactions with people who have common afflictions and goals
As for 12 Step meetings, the value is found in working the steps. The most important rule about working the steps in they must be done in the exact order listed. There’s a valid reason for that. Simply put, each successive step has been designed to be dependent on the one directly before it. It’s like taking 12 steps up to the heavens and salvation in the form of a lasting recovery.
Generally, every three steps represent an important aspect of the recovery process. Let’s take an in-depth look at these aspects.
Steps 1 Through 3
These three steps cover accountability. It requires that the recovering addict comes to grips with the fact they have a disease called addiction. These three steps also ask the recovering addict to ask for help and quit trying to deal with difficult issues on their own. The focus of that help needs to be placed on a “higher power.” While that may seem to have religious overtones, a higher power is anyone or anything the recovering addicts believes they can trust.
Steps 4 Through 6
These three steps help the recovering addict focus on their bad behaviors of the past and the harm they may have caused others. By taking the time to identify these issues, it reduces the possibility the recovery addict will repeat these behaviors. These three steps also set the table for righting wrongs.
Steps 7 Through 9
This next set of steps give the recovering addict the basis for making amends. That means righting wrongs and mending fences when and where possible. Sometimes, there are specific amends that can’t be made for a variety of reasons. That’s fine as long as those amends are recognized.
Steps 10 Through 12
The last three steps focus on the future. After taking responsibility, identifying problems and making amends, it’s time to focus on improving one’s behavior in the future. This includes helping other recovering addicts get through the recovery process.
Groups are a great resource for someone in recovery. If you would like more information about available groups in your area, you can contact one of our professional counselors at 866-754-9113.