Addiction Support Groups: What to Know

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For many years, individuals grappling with substance use disorders and their families have sought assistance from addiction support groups. Addiction recovery support groups

encompass a wide spectrum, including:

  • 12-step support groups for drug addiction and alcoholism
  • Secular support groups for addicts
  • Gender-specific support groups for drug addiction and alcoholism
  • Online addiction support groups
  • Support groups for families of those with addictions

What is a Support Group for Addiction?

Support groups for addiction are structured gatherings of individuals who come together to provide emotional, social, and often practical support to one another in their journey to overcome addiction or cope with its effects. These groups offer a safe and non-judgmental environment where participants can share their experiences, struggles, and successes related to addiction and recovery.

Key characteristics of support groups for drug addicts and alcoholics include:

  • Peer support: Support groups consist of peers who have experienced similar challenges with addiction. Participants can relate to one another’s experiences, fostering a sense of understanding and camaraderie.
  • Mutual aid: Members of the group offer mutual assistance, providing insights, advice, and encouragement to help each other navigate the complexities of addiction and recovery.
  • Confidentiality: An essential element of support groups is the commitment to confidentiality. What is shared within the group stays within the group to create a trusting and safe environment.
  • Structured meetings: Most addiction support groups follow a structured meeting format. This structure may include specific topics for discussion, sharing of personal experiences, and group discussions.
  • Diverse formats: Support groups for addiction come in various formats, including in-person meetings, online support groups for addiction, and phone-based meetings. This diversity allows individuals to choose a format that suits their comfort and convenience.
  • Guidance: Some support groups are guided by facilitators or leaders who maintain order during meetings and ensure that discussions remain constructive and focused on recovery.
  • Goals: The primary goal of addiction support groups is to provide assistance and encouragement for those seeking recovery, abstinence, and a healthier lifestyle.

Support groups can be valuable for individuals in various stages of addiction and recovery. They offer a sense of community and understanding that can be instrumental in maintaining sobriety and addressing the challenges associated with addiction. While support groups can be a valuable resource, they are not intended as a substitute for professional addiction treatment.

group of people representing support groups for addiction

What Happens in Drug Addiction Support Groups?

Drug addiction support groups provide a structured and supportive environment for individuals dealing with addiction or in recovery. These groups engage in a variety of activities and discussions that serve several purposes. Members share their personal experiences with addiction, including their struggles, triumphs, and challenges. This sharing can be therapeutic and helps people realize that they are not alone in their journey.

Support groups offer emotional support, allowing participants to express their feelings, fears, and frustrations in a safe and non-judgmental setting. This emotional release can be especially beneficial for those dealing with the emotional toll of addiction.

Many support groups provide education about addiction, its effects, and strategies for recovery. This may include discussions on the science of addiction, coping mechanisms, and relapse prevention techniques. Members often share and discuss coping strategies they have found effective in managing cravings, triggers, and stressors. Learning from others can provide valuable insights into overcoming challenges.

Support groups can foster a sense of accountability. Members set goals for their recovery and report on their progress during group meetings. This accountability can motivate individuals to stay on track with their recovery efforts.

Group discussions often involve problem-solving sessions where members collectively brainstorm solutions to common challenges in recovery. This collaborative approach can lead to innovative strategies.

Support groups emphasize relapse prevention strategies. Members share their experiences with relapse and discuss ways to avoid it. Learning from others’ relapse experiences can help individuals recognize warning signs.

Developing healthy relationships is a crucial aspect of recovery. Support groups offer an opportunity to build positive social connections with people who understand the journey to sobriety.

Members celebrate milestones in recovery, whether it’s days, weeks, or years of sobriety. Acknowledging these accomplishments can boost morale and motivation.

Some support groups incorporate elements of spirituality and personal growth. Members may explore topics related to mindfulness, self-compassion, and finding meaning in recovery.

The specific activities and discussions in drug addiction support groups can vary depending on the group’s focus and structure. Whether it’s a 12-step program, a gender-specific group, or another type of support group, the ultimate aim is to provide a safe and supportive space for individuals to heal, recover, and thrive in their journey to overcome addiction.

How to Prepare for a Support Group for Drug Addiction

Preparing for a support group for drug addiction can help you make the most of your experience and feel more comfortable when attending your first meeting. Here are some steps to consider when preparing for a support group:

  • Research and find the right group: Start by researching different support groups available in your area or online. Look for a group that aligns with your specific needs and preferences, whether it’s a 12-step program, a gender-specific group, or one with a specific focus, such as dual diagnosis or relapse prevention.
  • Contact the group: Reach out to the group’s facilitator or organizer to inquire about meeting times, locations, and any requirements for attendance. Ask any questions you may have to ensure that the group is the right fit for you.
  • Set realistic expectations: Understand that support groups vary in terms of size, format, and atmosphere. Be realistic about what the group can provide – remember that the primary goal is to offer support and a safe space for sharing.
  • Prepare to listen and share: Be open to listening to others’ experiences and sharing your own when you feel comfortable. Sharing can be therapeutic, but it’s entirely voluntary. You can participate at your own pace.
  • Bring necessary materials: If the group provides materials – workbooks or reading materials, for instance – make sure to bring them when required. Additionally, have a notebook and pen on hand to jot down insights or resources shared during the meeting.
  • Practice openness and honesty: Honesty is a crucial component of support groups. Be prepared to be open about your experiences, challenges, and goals. Remember that vulnerability is a strength in recovery.
  • Arrive early: Arriving a little early to the meeting can help you settle in and get a sense of the group’s dynamics. It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself to others and establish connections.
  • Respect privacy and confidentiality: Respect the privacy and confidentiality of fellow group members. What is shared within the group should remain confidential to create a safe and trusting environment.
  • Set realistic goals: Reflect on your personal goals and what you hope to achieve through participation in the support group. Setting realistic goals can provide direction and motivation for your recovery journey.
  • Commit to attendance: Regular attendance is often encouraged in support groups. Commit to attending meetings consistently to benefit fully from the support and to build connections with other members.
  • Be patient with yourself: Recovery is a process, and it’s normal to have ups and downs. Be patient with yourself and understand that progress may take time. The support group is there to help you along the way.
  • Explore additional resources: Support groups are just one part of a comprehensive recovery plan. Consider exploring other resources, such as individual therapy, medical treatment, or educational programs, to complement your recovery efforts.

Preparing for a support group can help you feel more confident and ready to engage in the recovery process. Remember that seeking support is a positive step toward healing and overcoming drug addiction.

A woman sits looking out at a sunset to represent support groups for addicts in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Get Help & Find Support at Ohio Community Health

Addiction is a progressive condition, but it is treatable. Engage with outpatient treatment at Ohio Community Health and kickstart your recovery from addiction to prescription medications, illicit drugs, or alcohol.

If you need more support and structure when addressing drug addiction or alcoholism, take advantage of an IOP (intensive outpatient program) at our rehab center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Whatever level of treatment intensity makes the best fit, you can access an individualized blend of therapies. These may include MAT (medication-assisted treatment) in combination with individual and group therapy, psychotherapy, and holistic interventions. All treatment programs at Ohio Community Health also include a comprehensive aftercare component.

When you are ready to initiate your recovery, we can support you from detox to discharge and beyond. Call 877-679-2132 today and begin your recovery tomorrow.

Table of Contents

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn