As statistics go, there are countless facts and metric tons of data to underline, explain and bolster the dangers and difficulties of facing up against drug addiction alone, and the challenging journey it presses upon millions of Americans. According to recent data released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), only about a tenth of recovering alcoholics consider themselves successfully sober – to many, that presents itself as a depressing number.
Ten percent might seem like only few, but more depressing is the fact that most people struggling with addiction simply do not receive the help they need to fight their problem.
There are several reasons why. The first is the self-perceived lack of need. Drug addiction isn’t necessarily something you wake up with. It’s a process, it develops and builds up within you and begins as a controllable habit, a perceived choice, something you could stop whenever you want to – only you don’t want to.
The second reason is that many cannot afford it, and there isn’t much widespread affordable coverage for recovering addicts looking for help from their public health providers. Some find that too much public capital goes into persecuting drug addiction rather than treating it – others find that the problem itself warrants more attention towards providing widespread treatment to help create a safer and healthier society.
However, even among the many who can afford to get help, a common third reason is that getting help for an addiction before it gets too late can be hard to justify. The stigma against addiction is real, so getting treatment can mean committing career suicide, admitting an issue that might ruin your future or sour your reputation. Instead, people decide to tackle their addiction alone, defeat it before it becomes a problem. Sometimes, they manage – often, they do not.
Drug addiction, as much of an individual issue as it is, is not easily tackled alone – for the simple reason that you’re struggling against yourself. And for all the damage it can cause, it’s an issue that should be tackled as soon as possible, with as much dedication as possible. Addiction occurs on two levels – emotionally and physically. Overcoming the emotional connection and comfort an addiction can provide, alongside the chronic brain disease that physical dependence ushers in, often brings out the best and the worst in people – their fears, their imperfections, their insecurities and their anxieties.
Recovery is more than just about getting rid of dependence and addiction – it’s about becoming a stronger person. And you’ll want all the help you can get.
Even Alone, We Need Others
It’s not unheard of to deal with recovery alone. In fact, some argue that most people who recover from their addictions do so without group therapy or twelve step programs. These are the untold stories, the ones that don’t have widespread data or statistics to rely upon.
Every step you take on the road to long-term sobriety is a step you must discover and take for yourself. No one will take that step for you. You could have a million voices telling you unison what to do – but you alone have the power to do it. Or ignore them, turn around, and back down. So ultimately, many rely on their own codes, their own goals, their own methods to overcome addiction. From striving to be better for your children’s sake, to cutting the habit to save a relationship with the love of your life, there are many reasons to go through hell and back without others to beat and addiction.
At the end of the day, many people who recover alone do so out of sheer necessity – but the truth is that it’s simply easier to go through recovery with others, and even for those who don’t seek treatment, drug addiction is something that requires the input and support of other people around us because we depend on our ability to function with and for others to find a purpose, a form of accountability on which to rely on.
What Group Therapy Provides
Time and time again, you’ll hear that drug recovery is an individual’s journey – but we’re alone, we’re not single specks of dust in endless space. We’re part of a whole, of a family, a community, a society. We’re part of groups and tribes, businesses and movements, ideas and interests. We define ourselves through how well we work with others, what we can do and achieve with them, through them, and despite them. In drug recovery, it’s no different. With others, you can gauge your progress, be inspired by theirs, stay motivated through their struggles, and motivate yourself with the knowledge that your struggle will help someone else go through theirs.
Group therapy is something else from simply asking those closest to you to support you in your struggles to recover. Where many might seek a treatment center or residential treatment program, and then embark upon their lives and rely on the support of family and friends, group therapy can be an effective tool for anyone acquiescing to the idea of opening to a circle of strangers about the personal struggles of drug recovery. A group therapy approach to recovery can:
- Help inspire you with stories of success.
- Make you realize that sobriety often depends on your willingness to try again and again.
- Keep you motivated in your recovery.
- Bring you in touch with potential new friends struggling with addiction, with a lot in common.
Going a Step Further
Sober living communities are another alternative to group therapy for long-term drug recovery treatment, particularly for people looking for a type of treatment that focuses on helping them reintegrate into everyday life. While residential treatment, or rehab, often focuses on helping recovering addicts ease into life after addiction, the challenges of early sobriety – from emotional instability to coping with the stigma of drug addiction – can make it incredibly difficult to stay on target without help.
A sober living community can help you organize your life, categorize and stay faithful to your responsibilities, and spend time with other people learning to get their life together straight out of rehab.
Ultimately, any form of recovery relies on others, and ourselves – not just the one or the other. We need ourselves and our own convictions at the helm, but we need to support of those who care about us, and those we care about.