Though overcoming heroin addiction can be challenging, you don’t have to endure it alone. To prevent relapse, it is vital that you secure a solid support system. That is why participation in a support group is an important component of the typical aftercare plan that’s set in place after treatment is complete.
Why Social Support Is Important During Recovery
Social support groups promote long-term recovery in two major ways: First, they help alleviate stress, a major relapse trigger, particularly during difficult times. Secondly, they provide emotional support and foster a sense of belonging and personal responsibility.
How Support Groups Help
If you’re recovering from a heroin addiction, you may feel isolated at times. A support group helps you feel less alone and more a part of something bigger than yourself. It gives you the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with other non-users as well as help others through the various stages of recovery.
Support groups also provide a wealth of resources for those in recovery. Members understand firsthand what you’re going through, and they can offer tips for coping with cravings, triggers and stress.
Four Popular and Effective Support Groups
Although there is a support group for nearly any religious affiliation, interest or demographic, four of the most popular and effective support groups are Narcotics Anonymous, Smart Recovery, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) and Dual Recovery Anonymous.
Narcotics Anonymous is the best-known and most widely available support group for people in recovery from a drug addiction. A 12-step program, Narcotics Anonymous focuses on fellowship with others who are abstinent and helps members navigate each of the twelve steps of recovery, which include admitting you’re powerless over your addiction, making amends for past wrongs and learning how to enjoy a drug-free life.
Smart Recovery is a popular alternative to 12-step support groups. A four-point program, Smart Recovery focuses on building and maintaining motivation, coping with cravings and triggers, managing unhealthy and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors and developing a balanced lifestyle to help you learn to enjoy life without drugs.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety, or SOS, is a science-based support group that takes a self-empowerment approach to recovery. Unlike 12-step programs, SOS holds the position that recovery is achieved through one’s own strengths rather than through a belief in a higher power. It separates religion and spirituality from recovery and instead credits the individual for achieving sobriety and maintaining long-term abstinence.
Dual Recovery Anonymous is specifically for those who have an addiction and a co-occurring mental illness, also known as a dual diagnosis. Those with a dual diagnosis have unique challenges in recovery, and this organization addresses various important issues that other support groups may not. A 12-step program, Dual Recovery Anonymous focuses on relationship-building and sharing strategies and techniques for coping with symptoms of mental illness, drug cravings, stress and triggers.
Engagement is Essential
Fully engaging in a support group is essential for getting the most benefits out of it. Once you find a support group, attend meetings regularly to develop a rapport with other members and to really get to know them as individuals. Always be honest and open with your support group—it is therapeutic in itself and opens the door for a high level of practical and emotional support from other members.
Get involved in the support group by volunteering your time and talents and helping to organize meetings and other events. The more actively engaged and involved you are in your support group, the more beneficial it will be in helping you navigate a new found life of sobriety.
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