Outside support groups consist primarily of 12 step groups. These include Alcoholics Anonymous, the original 12 step group, and others which formed later and continue to utilize the 12 step concept and philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous. If there’s a recognized addiction, there’s likely already a 12 step group that’s been formed and is available to help those who struggle to maintain their sobriety.
Why is participation in a 12 step group so important in recovery? One very basic reason is that recovery is an ongoing journey. It’s not a straight-line path and there are no short-cuts to success. It takes constant management, working the steps, being cognizant of what can cause relapse and taking appropriate action to overcome the temptation to use when cravings and urges recur.
When we are in recovery, we need the support, understanding, and encouragement of others who have been through similar circumstances. These are men and women who know what it feels like to awaken in the middle of the night with nightmares, panic attacks, anxiety, or overwhelming cravings and urges. They’ve been in situations where they felt ill-equipped to handle stresses and triggers that could precipitate relapse.
In any case, going to 12 step meetings, listening to what others in recovery have to say, and recognizing that these are people just like us who are genuinely working their recovery, are some of the best things anyone who’s serious about staying sober can do.