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How Effective Are Local Alcohol Support Groups?

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

If you know anything about alcohol addiction recovery, you know that alcohol support groups are a staple of long-term recovery. There are traditional support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous as well as non-traditional groups that use a variation of the 12-step recovery programme. All of the support groups do serve a purpose for those who utilise them. As someone struggling with alcohol, you may have personal experience with support group participation.

The central question within the alcohol recovery community has always been one of whether support groups are truly effective. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question. So much of successful recovery depends on the attitude of the alcoholic that it can be difficult to know how important a role support group participation plays in individual success or failure. We do know that those who complete alcohol recovery and avoid relapse tend to credit support group participation for at least some of their success.

We are an independent advice and referral organisation that can, among other things, refer you to a local alcohol support group where you can get connected to the mutual support and accountability you are looking for. You need only contact us to get the information. We can also refer you to inpatient or outpatient treatment if necessary.

Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original Support Group

Among all of the alcohol support groups in existence today, the most well-known and respected is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The organisation originated in the United States but has since expanded over the last 80 years to become a global organisation with millions of active participants.

AA was founded in 1935 by a pair of alcoholics who came to realise that genuine support for alcohol recovery was lacking. They modelled their support group on a similar programme known as the Oxford Group, a group that provided alcohol support based on traditional Christian Protestantism. The founders of AA developed a slightly different model that still emphasised the spiritual component of the individual without specifically focusing on Christianity. The AA of today still recognises a higher power and individual spirituality. Members come from all different kinds of faith backgrounds.

The basis of the AA programme is alcohol support underpinned by the well-known 12-step programme. It is a programme that emphasises personal responsibility and ownership of one's problems. Some AA chapters recognise alcoholism as a disease while others are more apt to treat it as a behaviour problem. Regardless of which perspective is used, it is the combination of the 12 step programme and mutual accountability among members that makes it work.

What Support Group Participation Looks Like

There are many kinds of alcohol support groups active throughout the UK. Some follow the 12-step model developed by AA, others use a modified 12-step model or something entirely different. All of them have one goal in mind: to help members beat alcohol addiction through mutual support. In light of that, all of the groups tend to structure their activities in a similar fashion.

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If you were to join a support group yourself, you would likely encounter the following:

  • Weekly Meetings – One of the major components of support group therapy is the weekly meeting that brings participants together to talk about life. The reason behind this is simple: everyone in alcohol recovery needs some means of accountability to make sure things stay on track. Weekly meetings provide that accountability.
  • Plenty of Discussion – Successful accountability requires members to talk to one another about their lives. To that end, weekly meetings usually include an open discussion time in which every member is given the freedom to speak what is on his or her mind. Others listen for the purposes of providing encouragement, correction, or other types of verbal support.
  • Shared Activities – Support groups also tend to conduct shared activities that give members an opportunity to enjoy one another's company outside of the weekly meeting setting. These activities offer an invaluable benefit in that they help recovering alcoholics come to terms with the reality that life can be enjoyable without drinking.
  • Individual Counselling – Many support groups provide individual counselling as well. This counselling can be in addition to professional therapy or in place of it. Counselling sessions are a place where recovering alcoholics can talk about things they are uncomfortable bringing up in group meetings.

The success of support group participation hinges on each member being willing to invest him or herself in the others. This is not an easy thing to do during the early stages of participation. However, once a person begins the investment process, it becomes much easier. In fact, it is not uncommon for some support group members to continue participating long after their own recovery is complete, simply because they enjoy being able to help others complete their recovery journeys.

Support Groups and Professional Treatment

Are you visiting our website today because you are looking to beat alcohol addiction? If so, support group participation may be part of your successful recovery. We can help you get a good idea of the kind of treatment you need when you contact us through our 24-hour helpline. Our trained counsellors can offer you an assessment of your circumstances followed by a recommendation for appropriate treatments.

You may be in the early stages of problem drinking or alcohol abuse. In such a case you might only be in need of support group participation and prescription medication from your doctor. A more severe problem diagnosed clinically as alcohol abuse may require an outpatient treatment programme that involves individual counselling, psychotherapy, and participation in a support group.

In a worst-case scenario, you might need a residential treatment programme offered by a private clinic. These kinds of treatment programmes are the most effective for hard-core alcoholics who have been drinking for quite some time. Residential treatment offers medical supervision, concentrated therapy, and a peaceful and tranquil setting that is very conducive to recovery.

We can help you connect with professional treatment if it is necessary in your case. As an independent organisation, we are not tied to any particular treatment provider or methodology. Rather, we have access to an extensive list of service providers including private clinics, independent counsellors, charities and even the NHS.

We are here to help you or a loved one beat alcohol addiction through successful treatment and support. We encourage you to contact us today if you are having trouble of any kind with alcohol. Whether you are a problem drinker or a confirmed alcoholic, there are treatment options available in your local area. Contact us today so we can connect you with a clinic and one of the many alcohol support groups ready and waiting to help you.

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