Nearly every addiction professional can agree that the community plays a huge role in helping to treat this disease. It goes beyond established programs and has to do with solidarity and support. When a community researches their drug problem, publicly acknowledges it, and take steps to support people battling it, then the addicts living there are more likely to maintain their sobriety.
When a person feels isolated or rejected, they can experience triggers and relapses. Knowing that they’re accepted and that their problems are valid can change the way they look at themselves.
There’s an extreme stigma that’s attached to addiction;it’s easy to blame the addict and accuse them of having no self-control because then, all the addict has to do is stop using, and poof, no more drug epidemic.
The reality is that it’s just not that simple. Addiction is a complex disease of the brain. It changes the way addicts experience chemical rewards and completely takes over their thought process. No one wants to be dependent on drugs and alcohol, no one wants to experience withdrawals, and no one wants to be isolated from the people they care about.
Addiction is a family disease that affects the community. Because of this, it needs to be treated at that level. When a community takes a positive stance and bands together to come up with resources, they’re doing more for the addict than ridicule ever could.
Unfortunately, many communities still aren’t at this point, which is why it’s important to understand the established resources and addiction recovery systems available to you.
The official Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) website defines the organization as “…an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem.” It’s a program that is open to everyone wanting to be free from their alcohol addiction. It doesn’t judge, is not a business, and has no leader.
Many addicts and non-addicts have heard of AA’s 12-step program but haven’t researched it any further. This is a community-based fellowship that welcomes anyone who’s struggling with alcoholism and other addictions.
While their primary focus is on alcohol, they don’t turn anyone away. The 12-step program is based on spiritual principles. Its goal is to help people come to terms with what they’ve done and to learn how to live as a whole person without the need for alcohol and drugs. It recognizes a higher power and has been extremely effective for a lot of people struggling with alcoholism.
AA also allows members to sponsor one another and to offer additional support. This type of program has been so effective because it brings people who understand one another together. They can share their experiences with others who won’t judge them and feel safe being honest with themselves. Just like any program, it only works if a person is willing to participate and wants to be sober.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is similar to AA in both purpose and structure. As the drug problem grew and the opioid epidemic made its way into our communities, people knew that they needed a better way to support one another.
NA was created to act as a fellowship for anyone suffering from an addiction to narcotics. It’s a group where they can receive help, work a program, and share their experiences with other recovering addicts.
Just like AA, NA usually has a presence in local communities. The meetings are sometimes hosted at churches and at private residences. If you aren’t sure how to find your closest meeting, you can check their website and see if anyone has registered an NA meeting in your area.
The internet is a fantastic resource for finding local support groups with a focus on addiction. There are some that actually allow virtual meetings where you can interact with other addicts without leaving your home. These are helpful for people who live in really rural or remote areas and who still want that type of support.
Support groups aren’t just for addicts, though. There are also groups that have been developed for teenagers impacted by their parent’s addiction, or family members who are trying to come to terms with drug use in the home.
It’s hard to explain addiction to someone who’s never experienced it. Finding a support group full of people who’ve been where you are can give you hope and help you figure out how to cope with your current situation.
The church is a powerful resource in the battle against addiction. A lot of churches offer a meeting place for AA and NA participants. They also develop their own faith-based programs that help people to use biblical or spiritual principles to start healing.
Several churches have gone as far as to set up their own rehab centers where addicts can stay while they go through their initial counseling. They may or may not employ professional addiction counselors but will always have an experienced religious leader on hand to offer to counsel at that level.
This can be a controversial topic for people who aren’t necessarily religious. Committing to the program is only successful if you can trust yourself to a higher power. If you’re not prepared to do that, then it may not be an option for you.
Contrary to popular belief, offering large groups of addicts community-based housing actually improves their chances of success. This helps to create a supportive subculture and allows addicts to continue to participate in their community. This type of housing may be different than your standard halfway houses, as they deal primarily with addiction and people who are trying to stay in recovery.
Recognizing the Problem
If you’re looking for community-based substance abuse programs, then there’s a good chance that you understand that you have a problem. Every internet search, phone call made, and minute you go without using is one step closer to getting your life back.