Think you are able to stay sober without attending recovery meetings? Do not think they are an integral part of addiction recovery? Chances are… you are wrong!
Recovery meetings are a huge part of any addiction recovery programme, and those in recovery are encouraged to attend them as often as possible for however long they feel the need to. The first few months of sobriety are the hardest, and during this time it is imperative that recovering addicts attend meetings every day if possible. This is particularly true in AA, where recovering addicts are encouraged to do “90 in 90”; that is, 90 meetings in 90 days.
Addiction relapse is almost thought of as inevitable in recovering addicts, and we often hear of people slipping back into it even after years and years of sobriety. It makes you wonder – what happens to people that all of a sudden makes them relapse?
There are a number of different factors that contribute to an individual’s reasons for relapsing, but one of the most common answers is: “I stopped going to recovery meetings.” So what makes people stop attending recovery meetings? And can addicts stay sober without them?
5 of the Most Common Reasons that People Stop Attending Recovery Meetings
“I feel like I can cope on my own.” This is probably the biggest reason that addicts stop attending recovery meetings. Once their programme has started to work, people begin to feel better and think that they are capable of dealing with their addictions on their own – and simply stop attending meetings.
“I am embarrassed.” Many people are embarrassed to admit their addictions in front of other people, and may be intimidated by a group setting.
“I do not believe in God.” For many people who do not prescribe to a regular religion, the spiritual aspects that are part of recovery meetings may be off-putting. The 12 Steps programme puts an emphasis on a higher being, but that does not necessarily have to be ‘God’ and is open for each individual’s interpretation.However, if you feel that the 12 Steps programme (used by many drug and alcohol abuse treatment centres) is not for you, there are a number of alternative groups that you can join.
“I do not like the people.” Recovery meetings bring together a host of different people who are at different stages of their recovery. A common excuse to stop attending is that individuals do not get along, or people feel that they are not as ‘bad’ as others in their group.
“I do not have the time.” Once people have significantly recovered from their alcohol or drug addiction, they will most likely re-enter the working world. People often find themselves caught up between work, family and friends and find that they may not have as much time to attend recovery meetings. What most people don’t realise is, that this is the most important time to keep going to support groups to help deal with the new everyday stressors that may lead them back to drugs or alcohol.
Are You Destined to Relapse if You Stop Going to Recovery Meetings?
Relapse is not necessarily inevitable if you stop attending your meetings, but the chances do increase greatly. If you feel like you are outgrowing your meetings, then the best thing to do would be to adjust your recovery plan, instead of avoiding recovery meetings altogether.
5 Reasons to Keep Attending Recovery Meetings
At some point, almost everyone will think that they no longer need to attend meetings. But if you really wish to stay sober, it is definitely advisable for you to keep going – even if you cut it down to weekly or bi-weekly instead of daily.
Here are 5 main reasons why you should keep going to your recovery meetings:
It offers a support system. hether you attend a group meeting, or are simply part of an internet group that offers support as part of their addiction treatment programme, being part of a group means that you always have support if you feel like you are slipping in recovery. These groups can also offer advice and comfort in times of stress and loss that may lead you to relapse.
You can learn from others. In recovery meetings, you will hear other people’s stories, and these stories will act as a form of guidance for you in your times of need. You will be able to learn different recovery techniques from various people that may help you in your journey away from addiction. Meetings also let you know that you are not alone – no matter what your feelings, someone has been in your shoes before and made it out successfully!
You will not be judged. The people who attend recovery meetings are going through the same things as you. They have ‘been there, done that’, and will not judge you for your actions when using or craving. A support group offers you a safe place to speak about your troubles.
They are a reminder of the consequences. Whether you feel settled into recovery, or you are having trouble staying sober, seeing new members who are just starting the long road to recovery could help you in realising how far you’ve actually come – and encourage you to continue along the right path. And being faced with people who have come in after a relapse will give you a stark reminder of the consequences of using.
It offers belief. Low self-esteem is detrimental to recovery, and in recovery meetings you will be able to meet people who are successfully fighting addiction and are helping others to do the same. Seeing others with 10, 20 or even 50 years of sobriety under their belt is a constant reminder that you can succeed in long-term recovery.
Attending Recovery Meetings is VERY Important
Attending group support meetings is one of the most valuable parts of any recovery programme, and many thousands of recovering addicts would attest to that. Everyone in recovery can benefit from regularly attending recovery meetings, and it is important for addicts to recognise the value of a support group.
A meeting place does not necessarily have to be a 12 Step programme or NA/AA, and it could be anything from church groups to outpatient and internet groups. The important thing is that any group which enables you to seek out comfort and encouragement from people who are going through the same thing as you, offering you a safe haven for you to go to in your darker days – could be the difference between staying sober, and falling into a relapse.
(This article is the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”; they are its original authors)