Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Treatment – Recovery Based Sober Support Meetings
When it comes to the outpatient drug and alcohol treatment program, one of the requirements is attending a minimum of 2 sober support meetings each week. This is usually required for those individuals who are recommended to attend a Deferred Prosecution, Intensive outpatient, and relapse prevention. Those with an outpatient recommendation for treatment may be advised to explore attending sober support meetings. If probation is involved, it might be recommended as part of one’s treatment program at the time of the assessment.
Does this mean I have to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous?
The most common sober support meetings a person may attend are local Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. However, there are a variety of other sober support meetings in the Greater Seattle/King County and Snohomish County areas an individual may attend. The following is a list (with appropriate hyperlinks to their websites) of common support groups a person may be referred to.
The best way to connect with and find meetings is to go to the Seattle Intragroup website. These meetings are located throughout the Greater Seattle/King County Area.
Along with the Seattle Intragroup website, Seattle also has one of the largest AA Meeting groups. They are One Step At a Time (OSAT). One of the reasons this is the largest sober support meetings is that they meld outdoor activities (climbing, hiking, and biking) with recovery.
Present research shows that substance use disorder does not affect the individual alone. There are family members who may suffer because of the nature of substance use disorder has on the family unit. Most people, when they enter treatment, also carry particular traits from their own family of origin. While not as prevalent within the Seattle area, Adult Children of Alcoholics and Family Dysfunction is a 12-step based program that works with those individuals who grew up in a home with prevalent substance use and/or family dysfunction. This is a 12 step based program with their own “red book” and workbooks.
Buddhist Recovery Support Groups
There are two different support groups that utilize Buddhist philosophy as part of their recovery process. The first one is the Northwest Buddhist Recovery Group. This group utilizes a 12-step based recovery approach with the integration of mindfulness and meditation. There are limited groups within the Seattle/King County areas. One does not have to be a Buddhist to participate.
The second Buddhist recovery support group is Refuge Recovery. This support group does not follow a traditional 12-step program. However, does incorporate more Buddhist teaching, philosophy, and practice as part of recovery. They also have their own recovery oriented book.
For those in the faith based community, one of the more recent and fastest growing support groups is Celebrate Recovery. Originally started under Rick Warren, this has grown to assist individuals with substance use, co-dependency, sexual integrity, and other related issues. They follow the 12-steps and the 8 principles of recovery (based on the Beatitudes).
One of the challenges is that when most people engage in outpatient drug and alcohol treatment, a majority of them are familiar with AA or NA meetings and may have apprehension about joining them. Smart Recovery does not utilize the traditional 12-step program. While it is an abstinence based program, they focus on working with people in motivating toward change. You can view more about this program at their About Smart Recovery page.
Other Recovery groups within the Seattle, King, and Snohomish County Areas
In addition to those groups mentioned above, other recovery groups are open for specific substance use related issues.
Do I have to work with a sponsor and complete the 12-steps as part of my outpatient drug and alcohol treatment?
No, we do not require an individual to seek out a sponsor and work on completing the 12-step program as part of outpatient drug and alcohol treatment. There are two recommendations that I personally make for my patients. First, I advise that sober support meetings are generally designed to work in building a healthy sober support network. This is important as some patients that come to Therapeutic Health Services may have a network of friends or associates that may continue to drink and use. Attending and working with individuals who are in a healthy recovery program themselves, increases the ability for an individual to have a successful recovery.
The second recommendation is something that I learned in my own youth. Best advice I ever received. Each of us do well to have three important people in our lives. Someone significantly older (10 years or more) that is a mentor. The second person is someone within our own age range (2-5 years) as they are our peer support. And, the third, someone significantly younger (by about 10 years) that we are able to mentor ourselves. This is the benefit sober support meetings have to offer. An individual may work with a variety of people with several years of stable and healthy sobriety, while also working with those peers who are in the young stage of their own recovery and treatment program. As a clinician, we recommend attending sober support meetings, connecting with people, and working with individuals. However, it is not required.
What about when peers that I attend group with meet up – does that count?
Yes, and I highly encourage those individuals engaged in outpatient drug and alcohol treatment with Therapeutic Health Services continue to work on recovery outside of their treatment attendance with this agency. If three or more individuals connect over coffee and discuss recovery related topics, checking in with one another, holding one another accountable, this does count as a recovery based sober support meeting. Whether you are utilizing a 12 step approach or not.
The main point is that each person should attend recovery based sober support meetings (dependent upon their level of care). Whether it is AA, NA, or any of the different recovery support groups. The take away is to build up a healthy sober support network while engaged in outpatient drug and alcohol treatment for greater success at stabilizing an maintaining an established sober lifestyle.
For more information on the THS Drug and Alcohol Program, check out our FAQ Post