ARTICLE OVERVIEW: There are many addiction support groups you can choose from in Florida. How can you decide which is the best for you? We review here.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 7 minutes
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- What is a Support Group?
- How Support Groups Work for You
- What It’s Really Like
- Co-occurring Health Conditions
- Family and Friend-Focused
- Addiction Peer Specialists
- Your Questions
What is a Support Group?
The definition of a support group is:
A group of people with common experiences or concerns who provide each other with encouragement, comfort, and advice.
In this case, the common experience is a struggle with alcohol or drug addiction. These peer-based support groups require no admission process or specified length of participation. Support groups are less formalized than other types of aftercare, although most groups operate within a stable framework.
Also, it’s helpful to know that support groups are also called “mutual aid”, “peer support” or “self-help” groups. We’ll use the terms interchangeably here. What’s important to know is that support groups have been shown to play a significant role in the process of recovery.
However, support groups are not for everyone. There are many pathways to recovery. Your pathway to may include talk therapy and/or pharmacological treatment. And for some, recovery involves neither treatment nor involvement with mutual aid groups. Recovery is a process of individual change. As long as we are making healthy choices, we can improve the quality of our lives!
So, how are do they actually work? And what are addiction support groups like in the State of Florida?
How Support Groups “Work” for You
Reaching out to support groups can help you enormously!
People who quit using drugs or alcohol must often reintegrate themselves with their families and communities. At the same time, we need to end old relationships, activities, and settings associated with addictive behavior. To replace old ways, we often need to find:
- A satisfying job
- Non-substance-using friends
- Networks of people to help
Making fundamental changes to your personal, professional, and social network environments will change your life.Often, people in a support group become as close as family (or closer). Plus, share experienced helps teach us new skills or ways of being. Not only do support groups help us relate with other people, regular attendance teaches us HOW to effectively deal with addiction problems. We learn through example.
According to SAMHSA’s Guiding Principles of Recovery Oriented Systems of Care, the probability of stable addiction remission rates has been shown to rise related with the number of recovery mutual aid groups attended in the first 3 years of recovery.  Additionally, active and continued participation in self-help groups has been shown to improve recovery outcomes.
In fact, according to this study, social and community support have been shown to be critical factors in establishing and maintaining recovery.  Another study published in the British Journal of Addictions found that interventions that restructure the patient’s life in the community, such self-help groups, have also been associated with sustained abstinence. 
The bottom line?
Surround yourself with the right people who can positively impact your thoughts, beliefs, and actions…and recovery from addiction becomes easier!
What It’s Really Like
Members of addiction support groups share personal stories of addiction recovery from alcohol abuse, drug abuse, self-harm, and substance abuse as well as other addictions and unhealthy behaviors.Read these testimonials to get the idea what it’s really like. The first one is from A.A., Alcoholics Anonymous, and the other from SMART Recovery.
“My name is Annie, I’m an Alcoholic.
My first drink led to my first blackout. … I thought it helped me to be the real me. I didn’t want to do anything that didn’t involve drinking: cinema – boring, walks – you must be joking! I learned early to have a few drinks from my mum’s cupboard before I went out, filling miniature bottles to take with me. I thought everybody did it! I look back at my teens and see that I have no idea what my family were doing, no memory of spending any time with them.
…Until I had one ‘friend’ left. A neighbour who brought food for the kids, gave me money. She told me one Sunday morning that I had to do something or she’d have to walk away. She just couldn’t watch it any more. I don’t know what it was that pushed me to make the phone call to A.A. ….They were not interested in my problems. They told me about the way they drank and I knew they were like me. I’d never admitted it to anybody. They told me about alcoholism, the physical allergy which meant that once I had one drink I was unable to stop. The mental obsession which meant that I couldn’t leave it alone, no matter how bad it got. The spiritual malady which led to the terrible dark loneliness and terror.
These people told me that they had found a way to stop drinking in A.A. and that their lives had changed for the better and they were happy. I don’t know why but I believed them. I did as they suggested. I went to a meeting near me, started going to others, started working the Steps. After a short time, the desire to drink left me and has not returned. My life has changed in ways that are beyond belief. I have faith in the future and I’m no longer ashamed of my past. I’m so grateful for the chance to live free from the obsession with alcohol.”
OliveH’s SMART Recovery Story
“When I first joined SMART Recovery 7 months ago, sobriety was a completely foreign concept to me. I had been drinking for 20 years, and it was all I knew. I built myself a cage out of rationalizations, justifications, and excuses. I made myself very cozy in my cage, but it was a cage nonetheless. I saw no way out.
I started using the tools — at first just Stop Thought, DISARM, and the CBA. With these tools, meetings, and the support of the community here, I got through one weekend, then another, then another. My strength grew with each success.
After a while I felt ready for the ABC. Tool Time was invaluable for understanding this. I discovered that by using the ABC to deal with frustrations and disappointments, I was able to reduce the stress that might lead to using. I called this ‘back-dooring’ urges. I felt I was really getting a handle on the tools.
I also threw myself into my VACIs, and other activities. My house had never been so clean! It was when I started looking at goals and values that the light bulb really went on. I realized there were things I wanted to do with my life other than drink, and sobriety gave me the strength to do them. The scales tipped, and I realized I was stronger than my addiction. That cage had never been locked. I could have grabbed the handle and opened the door at any time!
The freedom and strength I feel now is amazing. Sure, I miss drinking, but it is no longer part of me. Now I have the freedom to go get coffee in the morning without the shakes, freedom to counsel my students without feeling like a hypocrite, the freedom of knowing the world has opened up to me and I can choose my own path. I never could have done this without the tools, the meetings, and the unwavering support of the incredible community here. I love you all!
With strength comes freedom, and with freedom, finally, comes peace.”
12 Step Meetings
12 Step programs were originally created by the founders of Alcoholic Anonymous with the purpose of helping alcoholics stop drinking and stay sober. Due its popularity and success, other addiction support groups as well, have adapted this 12 Step model.
In fact, the 12 steps are a set of spiritual principles designed to guide anyone through the recovery process. In essence, it’s a process through which people learn how to understand and manage their addiction problem, as well as, find a social support by sharing the struggles they experience with people going through the same.
12 step meetings typically have the following format:
- Welcome and opening
- Explanation of 12-Step values
- Reading from the Big Book, 12 Traditions, or 12 Steps
- Sharing personal stories of recovery
- Closing, most likely with a prayer
There are two main types of 12 step meetings. Open meetings are open to the public. Closed meetings are reserved for people who identify with the addiction presented. Then, different types of meetings vary in their content. 12 Step meeting types include:
Beginner meetings are a meeting for beginners with a Q&A format where veteran members explain the 12-step program and answer questions.
Discussion meetings where the chair often selects a topic and people discuss it in turns.
Reading literature meetings, where a certain type of 12-step literature is read and discussed such as the Big Book of AA, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, and Living Sober.
Speaker meetings during which a person shares his/her recovery story.
In Florida there are hundreds of treatment centers that offer the 12-step program. Also, the official AA webpage publishes a directory where you can find online meetings.
Alcoholics Anonymous in Florida
AA is an international organization of alcoholics whose purpose is to stay sober and help others recover from the disease of alcoholism. Membership is open to anyone.
Since it is an anonymous program and not much statistical data is available, and it is hard to tell how effective it is.There are numerous AA facilities in Florida.
Find an AA meeting in Florida.
Cocaine Anonymous in Florida
Cocaine Anonymous is a self – supporting 12-step program for people who seek recovery from addiction to cocaine or other drugs. The members are recovering addicts who support each other, share their common problems and experiences.
Find a CA meeting in Florida.
Gamblers Anonymous in Florida
Gamblers Anonymous is a 12-step recovery program and support group for men and women who share experiences, struggles, wisdom, and support about problem gambling.
Find a GA meeting in Florida.
Narcotics Anonymous is a worldwide support 12- step program for people who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. It is a program of complete abstinence of drugs and alcohol where people share experiences, learn and support each other.
Find an NA meeting in Florida.
For non-religious people who seek sobriety, prayers and overt religious messages can often be a put off.Secular addiction support groups are non-religious recovery groups that use medical and evidence -based approach to treating addiction. These support groups are non 12- step programs.
With advances in the science of addiction, it is more than clear that the path to recovery can be individual and different for everybody. Customized treatment programs are offered to patients and are proven to be more effective. Some of the most popular secular support groups that can be found in Florida include the following:
A secular abstinence based support group for individuals recovering from addiction to alcohol and drugs. It is based on the principle of sobriety, secularity and self –help. Their philosophy is that every person is responsible for their own recovery and have power to do that. It integrates cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and solution-focused brief therapy.
Please click here to find a meeting in your area.
SMART Recovery is an abstinence-based program that provides tools and techniques to help individuals take charge of their life and addiction and change their thoughts.It is a four point program consisting of:
Point 1: Building and Maintaining Motivation
Point 2: Coping with Urges
Point 3: Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors
Point 4: Living a Balanced Life
Members are able to connect with each other with the guidance of trained advisor volunteers by asking questions and participating in discussions, in a safe environment.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety, SOS
SOS employs a secular and rational approach to addiction recovery and encourages individuals to take responsibility for their recovery. It respects recovery in any form regardless of the path by which it is achieved and is not opposed to any other recovery program.
You can find a meeting here.
Co-Occurring Health Conditions
These are mutual aid groups for people with co-occurring health conditions. Most commonly these support groups exist for people who experience mental health issues and substance abuse disorders, including depression and anxiety. You can find more information about mutual aid groups for co-occurring disorders in Florida here.
Faith-based support groups are usually Christian groups that incorporate spirituality into their treatment programs. The faith-based approach provides people with compassion and support and utilizes faith for spiritual, physical, and mental healing.
If you have a strong faith in God, but you are also struggling in addiction you might consider a meeting in a faith based support group. There are numerous faith-based support groups in Florida that will suit your needs. Two of them are:
Celebrate recovery is a support group that provides support and guidance to people battling addiction through their own Christian-based version of the 12 steps. The basic principle is that for people seeking recovery the only true path to God is Jesus Christ.
L.I.F.E. Recovery International
L.I.F.E. Recovery International is a Christ-centered support group with a mission to encourage, empower, people to live every day in integrity. They don’t use the 12 Step program, but have 7 principles of living:
• We acknowledge that our lives have become unmanageable.
• We believe in God, accept the grace offered through His Son Jesus Christ, and surrender our lives and our wills to Him on a daily basis.
• We become aware of our own sins and weaknesses and confess them to a safe group of spiritual people.
• We seek accountability and growth in our character as children of God.
• We explore the wounds from our pasts, acknowledge our sinful choices in response to those hurts, and allow God to transform and heal our hearts.
• In fellowship with other believers, we develop intimate relationships where we celebrate God’s transforming work in us and continue to address areas of immaturity and weakness.
• As we consistently walk in grace and truth, we carry the message of Christ’s healing to others and pursue a vision of God’s purpose for our lives.
You can find more info about these recovery program and find a local support group in Florida here.
Family and Friend-Focused
Substance use disorder affects the whole family. 1 in 3 American families have a loved one with addiction issues, and it’s really hard to see a loved one trying to break the chains.How can you deal with the situation?
There are support groups that are family and friend-based, and their mission is to help family members and friends to deal with a loved one substance use disorder. The main goal of these groups is to help family members process and heal any emotional wounds caused by the addiction. People can feel safe in the group surroundings, and eagerly share their stories, and be understood by someone that has similar experience.There are many support groups that are family focused in Florida, but the first of their kind were:
A fellowship program focused on families and friends of people who have alcohol use disorder. The group meetings address the common issues that loved ones of alcohol abusers face. It is not focused on how to make a loved one stop drinking, but how to live independently from someone facing addiction.
Designed to be a 12 Step program, this support group is created for everyone who suffers from a loved one’s substance use disorder. A structured, step-by-step program helps families to recover by sharing their experiences and being understood by someone who has similar battles.
In Florida, you can find meetings that are specifically designed for man, women, or LGBTQ people. These gender – specific programs can be all- male or all–female and focus on the specific issues each gender faces in addiction recovery. For example, men’s programs can address social pressure and insecurities, while women’s programs can address, low self- esteem, depression, and history of abuse and violence as a consequence of their addiction.
Gender-specific support group can be beneficial in recovery and increase the effectiveness of treatment programs. They can also be part of a bigger program that includes:
- Complementary and alternative therapies
- Medical detox
- Medical management
Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery and many more support groups in Florida offer gender- specific programs. You can visit their websites to find a meeting. Or, you can look into Women for Sobriety. You can find a meeting here.
Many support groups are based on total abstinence from substances, which can be quite difficult for some people, especially in early recovery. Fortunately, there are many alternatives in Florida where you can be a member of support group while od medications.
Medication-assisted support groups include people who undergo medication-assisted treatment (MAT). These people are taking prescribed drugs to lessen the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and prevent cravings and relapse.In Florida, MAT programs vary depending on the substance and the length of substance abuse.
Youth – focused support groups are specific types of groups where young people share their stories and experiences with addiction and encourage and support each other. These groups can be effective because oftentimes teens and adolescents are more willing to listen their peers.
According to NIDA, these peer recovery support groups help teens and adolescent build healthy social relationships, and stay committed their sobriety by actively participating in alcohol and drug-free activities.  You can find information on local behavioral health services that target youth in Florida on SAMHSA’ s website.
Addiction Peer Recovery Specialists
An addiction peer recovery specialist is a person who is living in a recovery from a substance use disorder, and is willing to share his experience and knowledge to help other going through the same thing. The help and support they provide to people in addiction treatment can be:
- Informational, by providing referrals to social service programs
- Emotional and compassionate support
- Instrumental, including helping with tasks
- Affiliational help in setting up community networks
In order to become a certified addiction recovery specialist in Florida you must fulfill the following requirements, with 40 clock hours of training divided in these specific content areas:
- Advocacy,4 hours minimum
- Mentoring, 10 hours minimum
- Recovery Support, 6 hours minimum
- Professional Responsibility, 8 hours minimum
- Whole Health, 8-16 hours
- Electives, 0-4 hours minimum
In addition to the 40 hours of formal training, applicant must also complete a minimum of 500 hours of work or volunteer experience in the behavioral health field.Working with an addiction peer recovery specialist can help you access real support in Florida.You can find more info here.
If you have any further questions about addiction support recovery groups in Florida we invite you to ask them in the comments section below. We try to respond to every comment in a prompt and personal manner.