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Recovery Support for Opioid Use Disorder
Because you don't need to do this alone
What is Recovery Support?
Recovery is the gold standard of treatment for a substance use disorder. Recovery means literally to recover what was lost during substance abusing times. Recovery is ongoing and progressive. Someone who is in recovery is in the process of improving his or her life, and though there can be some tough times and even reversals, recovery is a forward movement and a way of maximizing one’s potential and happiness.
Recovery support is the replacement of negative and self-defeating people, places and things that encourages substance abuse with supportive systems and environments that support healthy, positive living. By definition recovery cannot happen without support—support from friends and family, peers and treatment programs. That’s why recovery services are provided as part of all treatment services. Once an individual has completed their treatment plan, clients are encouraged to stay involved with their treatment program by enrolling in recovery services which include alumni groups, peer supports, professional check-ins and self-help group attendance.
Local Recovery Support Resources
Please refer to our Treatment Providers Directory to find treatment programs that offer alumni groups and professional recovery support services. Click on the Recovery Support button.
Collegiate Recovery Support Community
The Anchor Program at Santa Barbara City College supports students in recovery who might be in need of supportive and confidential counseling services and also hosts 12-Step and other recovery support groups.
Gauchos for Recovery at UCSB Student Health supports students engaging in any recovery pathway they choose. Additionally, they support students who have been directly or indirectly affected by the substance use of friends or loved ones, and work to create a recovery-ready campus community. The program is centered around 6 main elements: (1) a community of supportive peers; (2) recovery-oriented meetings and events; (3) opportunities for leadership and service; (4) a recovery-friendly space; (5) peer and professional support; and (6) community harm-reduction services.
Local Recovery Support Groups
Smart Recovery: Online and local meetings
Narcotics Anonymous Santa Barbara: (805) 569-1288
Nar-Anon Family Groups Santa Barbara
Refuge Recovery: These meetings are based on the book, “Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Addiction Recovery” by Noah Levine.
The Alano Club hosts 12-Step Groups and offers a place for newcomers in recovery to go to take a break and have a cup of coffee with men and women who understand the program and the process of recovery. Here is a list of current meetings.
235 E Cota St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101-1620
Dual Diagnosis Recovery Support
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Santa Barbara provides emotional support, educational resources and advocacy for individuals and families affected by mental illness, including family support groups, and fighting the stigma associated with mental illness in our community.
The Mental Wellness Center also provides support groups for parents of adolescents struggling with mental illness, and other family support services.
How do I find the support group that’s right for me?
Recovery support groups are usually facilitated by a therapist or counselor, but can also be led by members with lived experiences. Generally, a support group is less structured than a therapy group. Support groups can be a great way to find others who have struggled and managed to stay in recovery, and to feel connected rather than isolated. They can offer the opportunity to learn new, healthier coping skills from others.
There are a variety of support groups to choose from, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Keep in mind that since many groups are peer-led, each one can feel a bit different even if they are affiliated with the same overall program.
12-Step support groups, like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are based on the famous ‘12 Steps’ with the objective of accepting that one is powerless over the substance and that finding a ‘higher power’ (or a God of your understanding) is key to recovery. Recovery is defined by abstinence and most people in 12-Step groups count the number of days since they last engaged in substance use; often using one of the many phone apps available. There are different types of meetings, including “open” meetings that anyone (including family members) can attend, “closed” meetings which are only for the person with the substance use problem, as well as gender-specific meetings and meetings for the LGBTQ community.
For the growing number of people in recovery from opioid addiction with the help of doctor-supervised Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), it’s worth considering the group’s position on it. Although anyone with a substance use problem who desires recovery is allowed to attend a meeting, Narcotics Anonymous does not support the use of these medications despite their widespread endorsement by the medical community.
For parents and caregivers, there are also Families Anonymous, and Nar-Anon support groups, which are specifically intended for the support of concerned others.
Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery)
A program largely rooted in spirituality isn’t for everyone, and the number of secular options is growing. The SMART Recovery approach focuses on changing thought patterns to address triggers and encourages aligning behaviors with personal values. It emphasizes self-empowerment and self-reliance while providing education and support. Peer-led support is encouraged and it’s okay to “cross talk” to address a peer member’s comments during a meeting. For those undergoing Medication-Assisted Treatment, SMART Recovery supports the legal use of prescription psychiatric and addiction medications. For the parent and caregiver, check out SMART Recovery’s Family & Friends meetings.
LifeRing Secular Recovery is organization of people who share practical experiences and sobriety support, with an emphasis on the positive and present-day. LifeRing supports individualized recovery efforts that strengthen the Sober Self.
Again, as with treatment, individual needs vary, so it’s good to be aware that there are many options when it comes to group supports. For those with co-occurring mental health issues, Dual Recovery Anonymous was formed specifically to address both. One can also find meetings designed for specific populations such as male, female, LGBTQ, young persons or professionals so as to make the experience as comfortable as possible. It may take some trial and error, but there is likely an option out there to suit one’s needs.
It’s important to understand that these support programs are peer-led, and as such, they aren’t a substitute for individual counseling or group therapy. Recovery plans often include support groups in addition to regular counseling, group therapy and ongoing medical attention.
(Material in this article excerpted from the Partnership to End Addiction website.)