Tag Archives: 12 step programs

Support Groups for Opiate Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a complex disease that takes more than good intentions or an act of the will to overcome.1 If recovering from opioid addiction required simply a change in behavior, it would not be the epidemic it is today.

Opioids like morphine and codeine are highly addictive, even in prescription form. Abuse over an extended period of time forces the body to stop creating its own endorphins, kills off its nerve cells and creates an even higher tolerance to the drug. More and more opioids are then necessary to achieve the same high, and the addict becomes obsessed with acquiring and consuming substances that will eventually kill him. Finding the right treatment program with support groups and quality aftercare is the best way to overcome addiction to opioids.

Opioid Addiction Treatment Basics

Opioid addiction typically begins with medically-supervised detox. Detox gives the brain and body the chance to rid itself of the drug. Medically-supervised detox allows the person struggling to go through the process in a safe way. Round-the-clock medical monitoring by trained personnel makes dealing with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms easier. Once detox has ended, the diagnosis of any underlying mental illness is the next step in the process. Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness can contribute to the development of addiction, and treating both conditions simultaneously dramatically increases the chances of a successful recovery. Once a diagnosis is reached, treatment, including individual and group therapy sessions can begin. Treatment often includes other holistic options like meditation, yoga, exercise therapy, nutritional therapy and career assistance. Each part of the process is important for healing the entire person, body, mind and spirit.2

Opioid Support Groups

Opioid addiction may be one person’s issue, but recovery must happen in community.

You cannot resist the drug cravings and temptation to use again without the support of others who understand exactly what you are going through. Support groups not only help alleviate boredom (which often leads to using), but they give people in recovery a greater understanding of how to live sober from those who know best.

Opioid addiction is often based on an emotional element, and as the opioid user recovers from addiction there will be feelings that need to be addressed and confronted. These are not always emotions an individual may be comfortable sharing with friends and family. Support groups offer a safe place for those in recovery to share their struggles and successes on the road to recovery.

Why Support Groups?

Support groups also provide a place of non-judgment and accountability where addicts find strength to be truthful about their own struggles as others share their own.

The friends and mentors in these groups have been down the same road and can provide balance and understanding, as well as a sober community to replace old friends who are not pursuing sobriety. Walking the recovery road and dealing with relapse successfully is impossible without the proper accountability. With the right people surrounding and supporting you, recovery is possible.3

Not all support groups are the same, and the recovering opioid addict can choose the group that best meets his/her needs.Programs such as Narcotics Anonymous follow a 12-Step program, in which people in recovery are given spiritually based guidelines, along with a personal sponsor for ongoing guidance and help. Other secular or cognitive approach support groups like Smart Recovery are available to those who prefer a non-spiritual focus. And there are a number of online-support groups for every type of addiction.

Long-term recovery from opioid addiction requires a sober community in which to ‘do life’ without the drugs. Your therapist or treatment facility will help you or your loved one find a support group that best meets your needs.

Finding Support Groups for Opioid Addiction

If you or a loved one has an opioid abuse problem, please call our toll-free number, 760-548-4032. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions about support groups, addiction treatment and other steps towards recovery. Don’t let addiction control your life, call us today.

By Patti Richards

1“Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, June 2018.
2“Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, Jan. 2018.
3 Tracy, Kathlene, and Wallace, Samantha P. “Benefits of Peer Support Groups in the Treatment of Addiction.” The U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 29 Sept. 2016.

Alternatives to a 12-Step Program

If you struggle with substance abuse or addiction, you’ve likely heard that the secret to winning the battle against your addiction is using the 12 Steps.

Whether the 12 Steps you’re using have been adjusted for a process addiction, like gambling, they remain the most widely implemented treatment module for alcoholics and addicts. However, a 12-step program is not the only available program on the market. There are alternatives available that do not include spirituality with the addiction recovery process. As a result, the alternative approaches to the traditional 12 Steps cater to the mindset of logical addicts and alcoholics on the spectrum of afflicted individuals. Let’s look closer at a few of these methods.

The SMART Recovery model

SMART recovery model groupSMART is an acronym for Self Management And Recovery Training. SMART advocates point out their model’s effectiveness in keeping abreast of current research in the addiction and alcoholism fields. They base their recovery guidelines on science rather than spiritual principles. In addition, SMART’s face-to-face forums are open to discussion among members. While Alcoholic Anonymous meetings often require members to refrain from “cross talk” or exchanging narratives throughout the course of the meeting. SMART recovery is more lenient than a traditional AA meeting. Conversation is welcomed with open arms as long as it is conducive to the topic at hand.

SMART is based on scientific research, advocates the appropriate use of prescribed medications and psychological treatments. SMART also teaches members the tools to cope with stress in a healthy way. SMART groups even touch upon alternative venues for which to have fun in sobriety.

Rational Recovery

Rational Recovery (RR) is another alternative approach to the 12 Steps. This approach utilizes Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT). RR trains participants to distinguish between the healthy, logical side of their brain and the unhealthy hemisphere.

Rational Recovery builds many of its lessons around the premise that the addictive voice, routinely personified as “the beast” which is an evil creature that dwells within all human beings as a byproduct of instinct. “The beast” seeks pleasure whether the source is from sex, drugs, or fluids. The ability to quiet the beast is where true self-discipline and AVRT techniques are put to the test.

Rational Recovery tries to narrow down addiction and alcoholism into simple blocks of distinguishable features that make it manageable for members on a daily basis. Rational Recovery is controversial in the sense that it dismisses the disease concept of addiction. Instead, this approach considers addiction to be a lack of self-will.

Many find this message to be somewhat offensive. For instance, as the authors of Rational Recovery describe the beast, they write,

“Your survival appetite is aimed at the wrong stuff, to be sure, but addiction is more a reflection of health than of a mysterious disease. The desire for pleasure fades among sick or diseased people, further suggesting that addiction is a reflection of health rather than a disease process.”

In RR, some call the human mid-brain “the party center,” because of the bond between pleasure and addiction. Of course, it is often quite stupid (self-defeating) to act on healthy desires or impulses, as in substance addictions. Adjectives such as “stupid” and “ridiculous” are commonly utilized in the context of describing traditional methods of alcoholism and addiction treatment, i.e. the 12 Steps.

Accelerated Recovery

Accelerated Recovery claims to have the best non-12-step approach to breaking dependence on alcohol. This program treats the physical and psychological problems alcoholism but does not focus on spirituality. As you can tell, less God and more science is the trend among non-12-Step recovery approaches.

There will always be alternative approaches to the 12-steps cropping up. It is important to remember that recovery is not just about stopping one isolated behavior (drug use) but learning a new way of life.[1] Human beings love to debate, and the 12-step modality as the gold standard is a topic of no exception.

No matter what approach you find is the best fit for you, it is important to get sober.

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.[2] If you need help with a substance abuse problem, please reach out to one of our admissions coordinators. We are there to answer any questions you have and can even help you determine what forms of treatment are covered by your insurance. Don’t wait. Make this important call today.

[1] Why the Hostility Toward the 12 Steps? Sack, David. Psychology Today. Published on Nov 20th, 2012.

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction Treatment Approaches For Drug Addiction.