Addiction is a potentially deadly illness. To an outsider looking in, it's easy to judge the behavior of an addict. But once an addict is dependent on a substance, quitting without help is virtually impossible. Just as insulin can treat diabetes and chemotherapy can treat cancer, drug and alcohol rehab can treat addiction. No matter how much an addict has suffered or how much suffering that addict has caused, rehab offers hope for a better future.
Some addicts are uncomfortable telling others they're going to rehab. Others need time to save money. Some prefer a do-it-yourself approach, and still others simply need something additional to supplement what they've already learned in rehab. This is where support groups come into the picture. By leaning on other recovering addicts, you give yourself a potentially powerful avenue for lasting recovery.
Alcoholics Anonymous focuses on meeting addicts where they are, and it's no wonder. This program was created by a recovering addict, so AA is highly sympathetic to the various ways addicts suffer. The program encourages addicts to work through its 12 steps, commit to a life of sobriety, and make amends to those they have hurt. Meetings are free, and occur throughout the day and week. Ready to find the best Alcoholics Anonymous group near you? Click here. Links to a few other local programs include:
Narcotics Anonymous uses a model almost identical to that which is embraced in AA. NA, however, focuses on helping addicts quit abusing drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. NA also offers several drug-specific programs, such as Pills Anonymous and Marijuana Anonymous. To find your local NA meeting, click here. Other local resources include:
Addiction victimizes the loved ones of addicts almost as much as it harms the addicts themselves. Addicts frequently lie, steal, and even abandon loved ones. They may refuse help for months or even years. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon endeavor to help people who love addicts weather these painful storms. These programs focus on helping loved ones set boundaries, move out of codependency, and achieve happiness. By working these programs' 12 steps, you'll even find ways to be okay if the addict you love never seeks help.
Al-Anon and Nar-Anon also gave rise to two spin-off programs. Alateen and Narateen work to help teenagers who have a loved one struggling with the disease of addiction.
Find your local Nar-Anon family groups here.
Find your local Al-Anon family groups here.
It's common for NA groups to pray, and many meet in churches. The program also encourages participants to trust in a “higher power.” While this higher power doesn't have to be religious, NA may not be right for people who don't believe in spiritual causes. SMART Recovery offers a secular recovery model, and you can find a local meeting here.
AA, like NA, isn't always the best fit for everyone recovering from an addiction. Secular Organizations for Sobriety offers online drug and alcohol support groups here.
Addiction has the ability to change your personality, undermine your judgment, and even convince you you don't need help. Denial is a common symptom of the disease of addiction. While denial is normal, it's also dangerous because it convinces you you don't need help – even when your need for help is desperate. Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to more than three or four, you probably have an addiction: