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  • Paul Nouri

A Message From

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

It is truly amazing how many different types of groups there are across the country. Groups for people who are divorced, single parents, addicts, survivors of abuse, survivors of sickness, depression, grief, etc. Many of them are twelve step programs based on the success of the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous. For many people, a structured group environment best nurtures and promotes positive and sustained progress from whatever issue the individual is having. Each group is different in their own way. Some are larger/smaller, made up of more women or men, older/younger, etc. For this reason, if you make the leap and join a group and it just doesn't feel right, try not to lose hope. Instead, visit a group at a different location or even a different type of group.

One of the benefits of group meetings is the repetitiveness and regularity of them. So many factors in life are beyond our control, but making the meeting a priority can be within your control. It is your time to decompress, to share with others your feelings, and to be part of a small community. Taking time out for the meetings is a way to occupy our minds with something healthy and productive, when it otherwise might be preoccupied with our mental health issues.

Another reason groups can be good is because they are a form of service. No matter how much or little you contribute, your individual presence at meetings has a significant impact on the others who show up weekly. It is a harmonious relationship that members have with their groups. The sharing that we do is a regular source of service that you provide others and they provide you and it is a strong motivator for staying part of a good group.

You'll also learn more about yourself and what makes you tick, similar to therapy. The readings of the group and sharing that follows them are regular opportunities to learn from others and spot something in their stories that is also in your story. And no matter how many times you go over the material, as life progresses and you have different experiences, you will regularly apply the material to your life.

And finally, one of the absolute best reasons to try a group and see if it works for you...It's Free!

The Research points to the fact that twelve step programs can be extramely effective at improving mental health

AA skeptics were confident that by putting AA up against the best professional psychotherapies in a highly rigorous study, Project MATCH would prove beyond doubt that the 12-steps were mumbo jumbo. The skeptics were humbled: Twelve-step facilitation was as effective as the best psychotherapies professionals had developed.

After ten months of participation in a patient-led, professionally supervised social network enhancement group, one-half as many former psychiatric inpatients (N=40) required rehospitalization as did non-participants (N=40). Participants in the patient-led network also had much shorter average hospital stays (7 days vs. 25 days). Furthermore, a higher percentage of members than non-members could function with no contact with the mental health system (53% vs. 23%).

This study found that 82% of 129 members of the Manic Depressive and Depressive Association reported coping better with their illness since joining the self-help group. The longer they were members and the more intensely they were involved with the group, the more their coping had improved. Further, the percentage of members reporting being admitted to a psychiatric hospital before joining the group was 82%, but the percentage reporting hospital admission after joining was only 33%.

Highly involved members of Recovery, Inc. (N=393, mostly female and married), a self-help group for former mental patients, reported no more anxiety about their health than did the general population. Members who had participated for two years or more had the lowest levels of worry and the highest levels of satisfaction with their health. Members also rated their life satisfaction levels as high or higher than did the general public.

Nevertheless, individuals who initially sought help from AA... had 45% lower alcohol-related health care costs over a 3-year period

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