By Edie Weinstein, MSW Most people affected by addiction in some way are familiar with…
Do You Need Rehab or a Support Group?
When you realize that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, your next step is to get help, but you have choices. Two common paths that addicts seeking help choose are to go to rehab, staying for weeks or up to a few months, and regular attendance at a support group, including working with a sponsor. How do you know which option is right for you? It’s important to learn about each one, to rely on your friends and family to help you choose and to know yourself before you decide on a path for recovery.
What Is Rehab?
Rehab is the most intensive option for addiction treatment. It means leaving your home, your family and your friends to stay in a facility for a period of time. While there, you will receive various types of treatment, which to some extent will depend on the facility you choose. Most rehab includes one-on-one therapy, group therapy and counseling for life after rehab. Other types of treatment may include alternative therapies using art or animals, alternative medicine like acupuncture or biofeedback, and education about exercise and nutrition. Many rehab facilities will also involve your family to some extent, such as on family days or in family therapy sessions.
Who Needs Rehab?
Rehab as an addiction treatment option is best for people who need to focus all attention on recovery. If you feel like temptations at home will be too great, you may need rehab. If you feel like you won’t be able to stop using unless you are completely cut off from drugs and alcohol, you may need rehab. Another clue that you might need rehab is if you have already tried to stop using and failed.
Besides being totally cut off from substances, the duration of treatment in rehab is a benefit that many people need. For addiction treatment to be effective, according to research, it needs to be of sufficient length — as long as three months. By committing to a long stay in rehab, you may be giving yourself the best chance of successfully quitting.
What Is a Support Group?
A support group is a meeting place for anyone looking to stop drinking or using drugs. Most support groups are specific, such as groups for alcohol or narcotic drugs. Most are anonymous, which means you don’t have to give any personal information, including your real name. You attend regular meetings, listen to people share their stories and struggles, share your own experiences and work with a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who has been clean for a year or more and whom you can call upon when you are having a tough time and are worried you might relapse.
There are a couple of big differences between rehab and a support group. The latter is not run by professionals and requires that you make a personal commitment to attend while you still live at home. Benefits of support groups include the important aspect of being around people who understand your struggle. Support groups allow you to open up and learn from those who have been battling addiction longer than you have. They also give you greater flexibility than rehab and allow you to stay at home, continue going to work and attending to other responsibilities.
Only you can ultimately decide whether you will benefit most from a support group or rehab, but let your family give you input. They know you well and can help you decide. Also understand that your choice isn’t permanent. You can always switch from one kind of treatment to another, and you can make use of support groups after a stay in rehab. The more tools you use to get well, the better your chance of success.