Are groups useful in recovery?

If you have ever been in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction with the help of medical professionals or AA, NA ,  HA;,  then you have felt the pressure and heard the advice of going to a certain amount of meetings within a certain period of time. Even while recovering from past trauma, grief, mental illness or other addictions other than drugs there is always the group consoling option or it may even be mandatory if your working a program. I am not going to go into the whole 12 steps, the science behind the success of group therapy and I have no idea if it will benefit you personally, but I do know that in all types of recovery there is no uniform fix . There is no “one size fits all” and I believe both people in and out of the group therapy rooms , as well as medical professionals, can at least admit that.

So as I am sitting in my car waiting for my own group therapy to start I am pondering my current view on groups vs. My past view and others views. I currently am in a program for opiate addiction. I am in a maintenance program , which some of you may disagree with and that is OK! To tell you the truth there are times where I can see the points of those who disagree with methadone, suboxene or other maintenance drugs,  but that is a whole other article in itself. I have been in this program for about 2.5 years. The agency that I go through has changed significantly during that time , including the amount of mandated groups. Now we all know behind everything , everything is driven by the dollar. Well my clinic will admit that (at least certain employees will) , they know that every meeting the clients go to they can bill the insurance company and with most of us being on Medicaid from coming on to the program from rock bottom , they make quite the profit. The more they pushed all the clients to go to meetings , with the consequence of detox if they did not attend, the more opinions I would hear about what meetings have done for them. 

I too was one of the many clients complaining about having to go to meetings. I did not find them helpful, I have social anxiety and my life is a little to crazy to find someone to watch the kids a few times a week in between my work schedule. Well the administrative detox is pretty fast there and this.. forced me to go to meetings. I now am supposed to attend only 2 a week , which isn’t that bad but still can be challenging , and surprisingly they actually are helping. My once strict view on how they may help others but not me and that I am being used as a profit maker , is starting to change. With that said my veiw remains the same that group therapy can not be needed by all in recovery. Some may even find it a trigger and for that reason there should be other options for those who have legit reasons why group would not be beneficial for them.

Like I said I once thought I had legit reasons, I have a busy life, health issues, social anxiety.. I am sure if I were in my old mind set I could name a million “legit” reasons, but am I now turning into one of those people that supports the encouragement of groups? ( supporting the encouragement of groups not mandating groups.. this should be a person by person decision, not a cookie cutter decision) 

So one group changed my veiw on it all and it is a little woman’s only trauma group at the agency I go to. I came into this group as someone would go into prison,  serve my time so I can get out and can go about my bussiness. I knew that I had a lot going on in my life, even though I was hesitant to call it trauma because I wasn’t to sure what the true meaning of the word was, I knew I had my fair share of problems and it was at a time that I could work out with the sitter, so I told my consular at the time to sign me up. The group facilitator was a new consular in the program and this was my first time meeting her . Immediately when I walked in I had this feeling of comfort but still with my gaurd up I told her ” I have social anxiety,  I don’t really like groups or sharing my issues ” . Part of me was hoping it would get me out of having to talk about my feelings and the other part was I was honestly anxious. This lady I honestly believe God softened her heart towards all addicts and those with trauma and the holy spirit is present in her because she knows just what to say and when to say it to all of us (up to 12 women) in the group. She answered back to me a simple “well I am so happy that you decided to come in spite of your anxieties , I am happy you are here” , it was so genuine! Then I saw her just as happy to see each one of the women and it was for no other reason but out of pure happiness that we are working on our recovery by being there and that in itself is a positive impact on our life. I have now been going to this group for a couple of weeks and have opened up, shared and received so much from this group. I am to the point where I know God ordained this weekly event. I leave there inspired by the others, encouraged , and just relieved just to have let some of my darkness I hold in , out. 

So I realize that my veiw can be so strong about something and God can put a situation in your life that can change all of that. So are groups needed? I believe it is a situational answer if there needed, but I think that all people can find help through group therapy if the facilitator works well with you and the group, if the group works well with the you and if you go in with a open mind. 

Invite Jesus into the situation and ask him to work in all the group members life’s and just come back to see all he has been doing. I do this quietly as well and I think if there comes a  point that I do not want to go to the meeting for any reason , at least I will have the reason that I will be able to see how Jesus is working in their life. It’s encouraging to see God in action in others because sometimes we get so stuck on the bad in our life that it is hard to see God moving in our own lifes.


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