The need for online support groups multiplied when the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world. Online support wasn’t new at the time, but its role in addiction treatment expanded. Since then, people have taken more notice of online support options.
People who have experience with an issue but no professional training may lead some online support groups. This type is a self-help or mutual help approach, and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a well-known example. In contrast, an addiction therapist leads therapy groups. The key difference is that therapists use counseling techniques to guide and support people. However, both types of groups are beneficial and cover many of the same topics.
With the flexibility of the internet, there are more online support groups than ever. Here we’ll review how online groups can help and who can benefit most from them.
How can online support groups help?
Online support groups can give people a way to connect and get support. This approach is flexible and can provide many benefits. Here are several ways online support groups can help.
Attending support groups in person can be challenging for some. Group support may not be a realistic option for people with medical or transportation issues if only offered in person. Often people who care for small children or other family members face a similar challenge. Online groups break through this barrier. By providing better access, people who might otherwise not be able to attend have more options.
Group support can add another supportive service to a person’s treatment process. It can be less costly and more convenient than adding more therapy sessions. For example, a person going through addiction treatment may need more social support than what group therapy offers. This additional support group may be the piece that helps them have a better recovery.
Since geography isn’t an issue with online support groups, people with special needs can connect. It can be helpful for people in remote areas or with a topic that may be challenging to form a group around. For example, a person working through recovery may also be grieving the death of a child. Or someone may feel more comfortable in a group with a certain age range or specific gender. Instead of feeling isolated, people with similar struggles can find and support each other.
Unfortunately, stigma still surrounds mental health treatment. Some people may avoid getting help if they think others might see them attending therapy. Keeping this activity private can be especially challenging in a small or close-knit community. Connecting online allows people the freedom to get support with the privacy they need.
Who do online support groups help?
Online support groups can be a real solution for some people in recovery. Here’s how some people benefit from the flexibility and convenience of online access:
People in long-term recovery
Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey. People can face challenges long after their last therapy session, so ongoing support is essential. For some, an online group would provide a chance to stay accountable and connect with others in the same situation. And for others, several scheduled follow-up phone calls may help. Online programs are still relatively new, and not everyone benefits the same way from this type of support. But research is promising, showing that online support groups can help people make long-term recovery goals.
Rural and remote communities
People in rural and remote areas often face more obstacles when accessing healthcare services. Long distances can be costly and take a lot of time; this means many people go without the care they need or pay a hefty price for appointments they do attend. For those individuals, online access can make all the difference. Internet service isn’t always reliable, and online programs aren’t perfect. But support groups make a positive impact, and access to online support is a promising pathway for help.
People who don’t need residential treatment
Not everyone who needs addiction help has to go to a residential treatment center. Many people with addiction issues start their recovery journey with outpatient addiction rehab. They can go to treatment for several weeks while still living at home. After this treatment period, online support groups can be a helpful way to stay connected to their recovery community. And if they do need additional treatment, online therapy groups may be another option.
Make connections with online support
The Promises P.A.T.H. program has online support groups to help you or a loved one. Consider starting or maintaining your recovery at one of our two locations: Worcester, Massachusetts and Nashville, Tennessee. Learn about our programs and get the support you need. Call us today at 1-888-622-7809.