You’ll meet normal people that live in your neighborhood — doctors, teachers, firefighters, moms, etc. Like you, they care for someone struggling with drugs or alcohol. Regardless of who they are or what their story is, everyone is seeking judgment-free guidance and support.
Even though addiction is a disease and not something you caused or need to be ashamed of, privacy and anonymity are pillars of these meetings.
Let go of any embarrassment, nervousness or perception of who attends. Everyone is empathic to your struggle and will welcome you with support. Even if it doesn’t happen at your first meeting, you’ll eventually find someone you connect with.
Addiction feeds on isolation and takes a physical and mental toll on everyone in its path. You need support meetings because you’re stressed, worried, sad and probably angry. Support meetings help you process these feelings and find answers to your problem, instead of continuing to live in the problem.
By connecting with others that can relate, you gain deeper insight, knowledge and guidance on how to move forward – even when moving forward seems impossible. Support meetings regularly remind you that you’re not alone and your feelings matter.
The more you attend, engage and start to build bonds, the more you’ll see the benefit — so just keep showing up!
There are plenty of meetings. Even if you have a bit of a drive, the in-person interaction is worth it. However, location is not an excuse! Phone and virtual meetings are available to anyone, anywhere. Either way, you have two main formats.
12-Step: The model is clearly outlined and supported by millions of families. Outside mentorship is encouraged to get additional 1-on-1 advice. Plus, these meetings are easy to find. The only drawback, for some, is the idea of spirituality. However, many non-religious people find support by interpreting this in a different way or ignoring it to focus on everything else the meetings offer.
Non-12-Step: These groups are one-off or regional and tend to focus on empowerment through encouragement and education.
Try as many meetings as you can. Even two meetings by the same organization can have a completely different feel. See what’s out there and stick with your best fit.
Every meeting starts with a topic. Twelve-step meetings focus on a single step or on a core principle (like gratitude). Non-12-step meetings may go through a specific worksheet (like stages of growth) or include guest speakers (like therapists).
All meetings include personal stories. Past struggles offer hope or “lessons learned,” while current situations are shared to get advice and encouragement. Don’t feel obligated to jump in at your first meeting (or two). But eventually, you should make a conscious effort to step outside your comfort zone and share with the group. Being open and honest with yourself and others is the only way to start feeling better.
If you didn’t like the format of a meeting, try again or try another one. Keep trying until you find a meeting you can commit to, and go at least six times.
When to Consider Therapy
If addiction controls your life despite going to meetings, therapy offers more personal advice and coping skills. If you’re striving to rebuild your relationship, a therapist is a great mediator. If children are involved, therapy helps them process their feelings. Don’t be shy, passive or embarrassed about therapy. Your feelings matter!
Finding a Therapist
PsychologyToday.com allows you to filter certified professionals near you with specific criteria — whether parenting an adult child or marriage counseling. Interview and get a quote from more than one therapist to compare. Start off planning to go at least twice and go back whenever you’re feeling stuck.
If money is an issue, search for religious organizations, non-profits or community health centers in your area that offers low or no cost options. Every step in the right direction is worth it.
Paying for Therapy
The average cost is $60-150 per session. “Sliding scale” means the therapist charges less based on income.
Most insurance plans include therapy, but you may have co-pays ($20-75 on average) and/or a deductible (an amount you pay for any healthcare before insurance kicks in). If your loved one hit an out-of-pocket maximum this year, you can use their insurance for sessions together without paying more. Call the number on your insurance card to see which costs apply.