How Online Support Groups Help With Recovery

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Recovering from drug addiction, or adverse health conditions can be incredibly isolating – though friends and family might rally around you, they might not understand what you’re going through, or exactly what you need.

Don’t fret – this is where an online support group can help.

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What are online support groups?

Let’s backtrack for a second – before covering what ‘online support groups’ are, it’s essential first to explain what the definition of ‘support groups’ is.

You can think of support groups as safe spaces designed to help individuals discuss various issues about a life struggle or an illness they may be experiencing, with other individuals who are going through the same or similar problems.

The objective of a support group is to help members feel less isolated and find additional strength to navigate the complexities of the issues they are currently facing.

In general, support groups target specific illnesses of issues; for example, there are support groups for those struggling with addiction recovery, while there are other groups for those who have received a chronic illness diagnosis.

So, as implied by its name, online support groups are support groups that are conducted online, and in various formats – websites, chat rooms, blogs, smartphone apps, and even discussion boards!

Benefits of online support groups

If physical support groups exist, why would anyone opt for online versions of them? Well, as it turns out, there are many benefits associated with online support groups.

Let’s take a look at what the benefits are:

Asynchronous communication

For those struggling with a traumatic life event, chronic illness, or addiction recovery, they may need emotional support at any time – day or night, 24/7. Physical support groups are not able to accommodate this need; all meetings need to

On the contrary, online support groups enable asynchronous communication: individuals can send instant messages or emails whenever they feel they need help, as digital platforms never close. As you can imagine, this around-the-clock availability can be incredibly beneficial to drug addicts in the midst of recovery.

Whenever withdrawal symptoms and cravings are at an all-time high, recovering addicts can log in and scroll through previous advice shared by other individuals who went through the same experience. And sometimes, just knowing that someone else has managed to conquer their addiction can be of immense help. In a way, online support groups are a form of free drug rehab (see it here)!

Anonymity

Many people seeking help may not want to make themselves known to others, for any number of reasons – perhaps they feel embarrassed, are concerned about the stigma of the issue they’re facing, or have social anxiety. Online support groups also reduce any concerns over differences in social status.

As such, these people may find online support a more welcoming venue.

In particular, there is widespread social stigma regarding substance abuse – many societies around the world still frown upon addiction. Addicts who show up at a physical support group could be exposed to social ostracization, harassment, and even being disowned by their family.

Online support groups can, therefore, serve as a form of free drug addiction help resource for those who are unwilling, or unable to go public with their addiction issues just yet.

Furthermore, the anonymity provided by online support groups enables discussion of potentially embarrassing topics or otherwise taboo subjects. Ultimately, this increases the possibility for full disclosure, which in turn encourages honesty and intimacy – both crucial factors that contribute to successful addiction recovery.

Global coverage

Unlike traditional support groups that are bound by space constraints, the number of participants in an online group can be unlimited. As you already know, the Internet’s coverage spans the globe.

This international scope enables group members to draw from a wide variety of experiences, perspectives, points of view, and disabilities – while at the same time promoting a feeling of universality.

An online support group’s global coverage is particularly critical for those with uncommon diseases, such as methemoglobinemia (a disorder characterized by an abnormal amount of methemoglobin), as it may be the only possible way to communicate with others who are dealing with similar problems.

Mental support for caregivers

The benefits of online support groups extend beyond the patient or recovering addict themselves: such groups can be of immense help to caregivers – typically relatives of the afflicted individual – as well.

Caregivers commonly experience a deterioration in their health and mental state due to the challenges of caring for a sick loved one. And this is where online support communities come into play.

Some of the benefits caregivers can expect to experience from taking part in an online support group include the following:

●      Receive affirmation

Caregivers often take on the full burden of a loved one’s care needs and feel immensely guilty about leaving their side for even one second.

But caregivers need to understand the importance of taking care of themselves – this ensures that they’re able to perform their duty for the long-term. Online support groups can help reaffirm the view that caregivers attending to their own needs is entirely necessary and not selfish.

●      Learn coping strategies

Even when caregivers might feel like they’re coping just fine, caregiving duties can ultimately begin to take a toll. Caregivers will be able to find solutions and learn new coping strategies for common issues relating to taking care of a loved one for extended periods.

●      Form friendships

Caregivers may be so focused on their duties that their contact with others might become quite limited.

As social animals, humans need connections with other individuals to thrive. A support group provides a way to meet new friends with shared interests and avoid social isolation that can eventually lead to loneliness and depression.

The Bottom Line

The usage of online support groups is likely to increase as we become more comfortable with computer-mediated communication technology. Ultimately, these digital support groups have benefits for specific individuals who are unwilling or unable to attend face-to-face sessions.

And most importantly? Such groups can serve as an excellent, free addiction help for recovering addicts.

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Summary
Title
How Online Support Groups Help With Recovery
Description
Recovering from drug addiction, or adverse health conditions can be incredibly isolating – though friends and family might rally around you, they might not understand what you're going through, or exactly what you need.

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