Column: Self-help groups are key to recovery
New data indicates that 2.3 million people who participate in self-help groups for alcohol or illicit drug use currently abstain from use of these substances. Based on a nationwide survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the report offers other data highlighting the use and benefits of these groups.
Among the report's notable findings:
An annual average of 5 million persons aged 12 or older attended a self-help group in the past year because of their use of alcohol or illicit drugs.
45.1 percent of past-year self-help group participants did not use alcohol or illicit drugs in the past month.
Almost one third (32.7 percent) of individuals who attended a self-help group for their substance use during the past year also received specialty treatment for substance abuse,
either inpatient or outpatient.
"This report adds to the substantial body of research indicating that participation in self-help groups can help support people battling substance abuse problems," said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H. "Self-help groups often are used in conjunction with specialty treatment and to support individuals seeking help or
sustaining their recovery."
The Prescott area is fortunate to have a large number of self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, church-based groups, and many more that meet at various times and locations each week. While it is hard to tell precisely how many we have in this community (no formal, all-inclusive master list of every group is kept), an informal recent count indicated that there are more than 130 different types of 12-step meetings per week in the Prescott, Chino Valley and Prescott Valley areas.
"In the 26 years I've been working in this field, I've seen that those individuals who go through a treatment program and then participate in support groups are the most successful. Oftentimes, those who don't take advantage of the self-help groups continue to suffer in their disease," said Tracy Christensen, MA, residential manager at West Yavapai Guidance Clinic.