Fourth Slice of Cheese: Mutual Support Groups
Memo to Self: “Who my friends are matters”
A key theme in “Memo to Self” is the overcoming the urge to isolate that many people in early recovery struggle with and seeking out healthy the social interaction needed for the previously addicted brain to heal. Research is clear that participation in meetings with recovering peers - known as Mutual Support Groups - is a strong factor in promoting sustained remission from substance use disorders. There are many reasons for this: modeling of sobriety behavior, setting of sobriety norms, ready access to peers who can help one cope with the stresses of early sobriety, and both giving and receiving compassion and forgiveness to name just a few.
Memo to Self: “Who my friends are matters,” to my chances of recovery.
What we did at Le Mont: While we did not require 90 mutual support group meetings in 90 days, we highly recommended this benchmark of sobriety to our residents. People who did not wish to attend twelve-step meetings were encouraged to attend local non-twelve-step or faith-based meetings and develop a peer group within those meetings. Once per week (Thursday nights), the entire house and staff attended the Park City Men’s Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and participated in the tradition of going to dinner after the meeting. This meeting was one of the best examples of Mutual Support Group fellowship I have ever experienced.
Dr. Kitty Harris helped found the Collegiate Recovery Community at Texas Tech University. Here she explains why one’s peer group is so important to “re-calibrating” social cognition in early recovery.
Dr. Thomas Kimball is the present Director of the Texas Tech Collegiate Recovery Community. Here he speaks very eloquently about the fact that people in early recovery cannot always see risks to their sobriety, and why it is important for them to develop the skill of reaching out to others for help and advice.
Many people have written far more authoritatively and eloquently about Twelve-Step recovery than I ever could. Here are some books I would definitely recommend for people interested in learning more about Twelve-Step recovery.
Patrick J. Carnes, PhD
Stephanie S. Covington
Here is a list of scientific publications documenting the importance of Mutual Support Groups and Alcoholics Anonymous in particular.
Can neuroscience explain what occurs in recovery?article and interview of Dr. Marc Galanter
Twelve-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are one, but only one, kind of Mutual Support Groups. Today there is a growing plurality of Mutual Support Group meetings - from secular recovering groups like SMART Recovery and LifeRing , to faith-based recovering groups such as Celebrate Recovery and LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program.
Here is an important article written by Ernest Kurtz and William White in 2010 recognizing the multiple pathways to recovery: A Message of tolerance and celebration: the portrayal of multiple pathways of recovery in the writings of Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson.
LINKS TO TWELVE-STEP MUTUAL SUPPORT GROUPS: