When a person starts to abuse a drug it can become scary for them and all parties involved in their life. Often when we think of drug abuse our mind goes straight to “hardcore” illicit drugs, but in many ways, prescription drug abuse can be very similar. Prescription drugs carry different origins though; these types of drugs had the intention of being helpful at one point but diverted into being used and abused in an illicit manner.
Because of the fact that these prescription drug addictions have a different nature, a specific and focused dialogue on these forms of abuse may be vastly beneficial to a person dealing with this type of addiction. How a person obtains the drugs can also vary greatly. Certain individuals can abuse their own medication while others may sustain their addiction by buying pills on the street through the black market.
What is different about this type of abuse compared to other illicit drugs is that it is common for this type of addiction to transpire from medical guidance. People take the prescription to heal pain from surgery or an injury but due to biological and environmental factors, they develop a psychological dependence towards the drug. Whether the drug was initially intended to be abused or the abuse started later, the treatment for drug dependence and abuse is the same.
Every former user – whether or not they obtained their drugs from the street or through a doctor – need continued support. Support groups offer much-needed strength, informed coping skills and tactics that are crucial in combating the need for prescription drugs.
Recovery is a Journey
Sobriety isn’t an endpoint, rather it is an ongoing goal. The pursuit of sobriety doesn’t end the moment a person becomes abstinent – in fact, this is the moment real recovery begins. Everything learned in treatment or counseling must be put to the test each and every day. One thing everyone in recovery should be aware of is the fact that relapse happens. This is a truth that those newly in recovery need to be aware of. To be aware of this means that individuals can take a proactive approach to reinvest and nurture their sobriety – but in the event that relapse does happen, they have the training and fail-safes necessary to minimize the impact.
Staying Engaged and Focused on Recovery Goals
As soon as a person’s recovery isn’t put into focus it becomes jeopardized, putting them at high risk for relapse. Too often we see people who say “I wasn’t an alcoholic – I can have one drink.” This can be the start of a negative trend that creates a means for more destructive behaviors. To remain focused, a person needs to surround themselves with others who have the same focus and goal. Today, there are a variety of support groups that exist in a variety of formats geared towards helping an individual’s recovery from prescription drug abuse and focused on their recovery journey. The purpose of these support groups is to encourage and engage individuals throughout the recovery process.
12-Step Style Programs
These types of support groups can range from faith-based to secular and some can focus on one substance like alcohol or prescription drugs while others are open to all types of substances. By having a variety of support group ideologies to choose from, individuals can find one they find effective for their own needs, perspectives, and life path. Furthermore, there are even support groups for the loved ones of those affected by drug abuse. These specific support groups help create a cohesive environment of proactive responsibility and positive connection.
To help you find one that fits your needs, we have compiled a brief overview of the different kinds of support groups offered in the Tampa Bay area. The following programs are ones that employ a 12-step format within their groups:
Pills Anonymous (PA) – This free support group is designed specifically for those who have struggled with pill abuse and addiction. The purpose of this specific type of group is to give members a unique opportunity to ensure they speak to people who most likely have similar shared experiences. These experiences are often specific to pill abuse, like abusing one’s own prescription to the point of addiction.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – very similar to pills anonymous but more common and readily available. Those who attend NA 12-step meetings are often individuals who have been addicted to other substances besides alcohol, including but not limited to prescription drugs. This group is almost identical to alcoholics anonymous in philosophy but geared towards a different audience. According to the Narcotics Anonymous text “NA is a nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. We are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean.”
These groups are a form of group therapy. They typically begin with everyone introducing themselves and offer opportunities for people to share and connect their unique journeys with addiction. Sponsorship is also a valuable part of the program – a sponsor is when a person who has successfully overcome addiction and established stable recovery guides and supports a new member through the initial stages of recovery. Narcotics Anonymous relies on a higher power while encouraging increased measures of self-love, self-care, introspection and the necessity of making amends.
Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA) – This type of group therapy is based on the Twelve Steps but also acknowledges that many addicted individuals also suffer from co-occurring disorders (or a mental illness alongside their substance abuse) that may have pushed their pill abuse or accelerated their addiction after it began. The purpose of these meetings is to help people protect themselves against relapse. To do this they focus on reducing the symptoms of the emotional and psychiatric illness. Because both illnesses influence one another physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually.
This group encourages outreach so members are able to build a strong foundation and support network that can help promote, enhance, and safeguard their recovery. DRA does not advise members on specific treatments but offers a spiritual dimension which offers the opportunity to connect to other people as a means to learn accountability and coping skills.
Other Program Formats
These types of Support Groups do not adhere to the 12-step formats. Each format has a structure that is unique to the organization or group:
SMART Recovery – This support group is internationally recognized and offers a science-based approach. Smart recovery guides people to find and maintain their recovery in a proactive and self-directed way while learning self-empowerment and self-reliance. The focus of SMART recovery ist eh 4-Point program which helps a member to develop a more constant state of motivation, learn to cope with cravings, balance their emotional and mental states against their actions and create a more balanced and healthy life.
The organization promotes the idea of salvaging the positive aspects of a person’s life and learning to live in a more fulfilling way. Meetings are revolved around continual education, constantly updating their information to maintain current addiction and recovery research. This support group also supports mental health care and the use of prescribed medications for the use of assisted treatment.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) – this form of anonymous group therapy meetings have meetings throughout the world. Similar to SMART, they focus on research-based information and, “respect diversity, welcome healthy skepticism, and encourage rational thinking, as well as the expression of feelings.” This support group is self-help based, encouraging abstinence, self-actualization, and development along with the relationships and connections made within the meetings. According to SOS, they want “Honest, clear, and direct communication of feelings, thoughts, and knowledge aids in recovery and in choosing nondestructive, non-delusional, and rational approaches to living sober and rewarding lives.”
LifeRing Recovery – this group also has worldwide meetings. According to them Our approach is based on developing, refining, and sharing our own personal strategies for continued abstinence and crafting a rewarding life in recovery. In short, we are sober, secular, and self-directed.” To do this, they stress the “3-S” Philosophy; three fundamental principles that guide their meetings and member’s recovery journeys: Sobriety, Secularity, and Self-Help.
Their focus is on the two aspects of a person’s perspective and journey. They offer a belief that each person battles between the Sober Self and the Addict Self. Without proper support and direction, the sober self is weak. By connecting the Sober Self to other members, a person may become self-empowered to overcome the negativity and temptations of the Addict Self – maintaining abstinence.
Support For The Individual in Recovery and Their Family
There can be common factors present in both the addicted individual and the family. This primarily includes codependency, which leads to a harmful pattern of enabling behavior that is often present within relationships where the addiction lies. Codependency essentially exists when one or both parties depend on unhealthy behavior patterns that are present within addiction to create a self of self-fulfillment and worth. These patterns may still linger even after sobriety, which is why it is important for these individuals to attend these types of meetings to thrive and regain balance in life.
Co-Dependents Anonymous – This group helps bring back some of life’s aspects that may have fallen to the wayside, these types of things include developing better aspects of self-care and establishing fully developed boundaries. These support groups hope to instill self-resiliency which helps promote freedom. This group also utilizes the 12-step philosophy. These and various principles help members overcome negative and compulsive behaviors, specifically, certain harmful patterns, including denial, low self-esteem, compliance, control, and avoidance patterns.
Helping You To Heal and Support Your Loved One
Addiction rarely affects the individual user. In fact, it affects almost everyone who is a part of that person’s life. These particular individuals often experience changed and damaged lives, contributing to a host of negative or confusing emotions and doubts. Although these feelings are often destructive to people, there is always some form of lingering hope to learn how to best support their loved one. There is also a need to heal their own emotional and mental wounds incurred from the situation. For this reason, support groups exist to help these people.
The goal of these groups is very similar to other support groups in that it helps individuals learn proper coping skills and support methods that will help them engage their loved one better as they transverse the landscape of their recovery, so they can more fully help their addicted family member. Forms of these types of group therapy groups include:
Nar-Anon – The most popular group therapy for family and friends of people in addiction. This group therapy is much like the AA or NA in the fact that it roots itself in the 12-step philosophy and stresses the importance of spirituality. During these meetings, family and friends work through the Nar-Anon 12-steps to help them through the experiences of their loved one’s drug abuse. Through these meetings, people not only gain valuable information but a deep connection to other individuals who share similar experiences and perspectives.
Adult Children of Alcoholics – Contrary to what the name suggests, this group is not only for children of alcoholics ut anyone from a dysfunctional household. This group hopes to help people better overcome the ways in which these happenings may have shaped how you live your life and relate to other people. This group is open to everyone.
We hope to provide an extensive list of options to enable you to find the one that fits your needs the best, but we also understand that this can be a bit overwhelming. Start by researching which meetings are available in your area and which ones are the most accessible. It isn’t necessary to commit to the first group you attend; rather, we recommend you take your time by experimenting with several types of groups and several different areas before you decide which one is best for you.
These times are extremely hard for anyone suffering from substance abuse and even the surrounding support circle. It would be almost impossible to create a positive and active mindset on your own. Thankfully these support groups are readily available almost anywhere you live. Take advantage. Try some out. You may be surprised on how much you will take from them.
Let Us Offer You Further Support
At Coalition Recovery our mission is to give every individual the opportunity to become whole again and forge a balanced and drug-free life. We know this isn’t easy, so our compassionate staff offers support to anyone that needs assistance – whether they need addiction treatment or local resources to support groups we are here to help! We can help you further develop a plan for sobriety or enhance your current recovery goals. Contact us today and take control of your life.
Content Creator for Coalition Recovery