Peer support groups are meetings where people who share common problems can discuss their experiences and get support from each other. These groups include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Alanon (a group for families of alcoholics).
Many people do not want to go to these meetings for various reasons. “I don’t have such a bad problem.” “I don’t have the time.” “There are no meetings in my area.” “I work all day.”
These are examples of reasons why people don’t want to go to one of these meetings. I’d like to share some reasons why you may want to go to one or more of these meetings.
None of these meetings are regulated. That means there is no central authority which tells these groups the way they should act. For this reason, one group may be inappropriate for your needs, while another down the road may be simply fantastic. Each individual meeting is shaped by the people who attend. One group may be full of homeless people who are using hard drugs every day. Another group may be full of professionals. What I’m trying to say is that if you attend a group, and you don’t like it, don’t give up. You should move on to the next meeting, in a different location or at a different time. Eventually you will find a group that fits your needs and personality.
Once you find a group you like, then you will discover the benefits of attending. The group will allow you to unload many, if not all, of the feelings you have towards your situation. It is hard to describe the release you can feel with sharing some deeply private emotions about things that have happened to you or that you have done.
You will also hear stories that other people will tell. This can help you feel that you are not alone in your struggle. It can help you develop a sense of community, and feel that you have some supports to back you up in times of trouble.
At one point, you may decide to get a sponsor. This person is generally somebody who has been clean and sober for a certain amount of time. That person has likely been through many of the things that you could be going through right now. This can result in a very deep friendship, and personal understanding between the two of you. More importantly, this person can be a support to you during times when you are feeling like using. Sometimes a simple text, email, or phone call to or from somebody who cares about you is enough to keep you from using. Your family can help, but a sponsor can help much more. You should try to use as many resources as you can to help you through your troubled times.
There are many other supports and counseling that are available. Please talk to your doctor about these.
These peer support groups are easy to find on the Internet. For your convenience, I have included several links below. As you can see, in the Mississauga and West Toronto area there are many meetings at many different times during the week. I’m sure that you can find one that fits your location and schedule.
In Toronto: 1.888.696.8956 firstname.lastname@example.org
Narcotics Anonymous Meetings in GTA (Greater Toronto Area): http://www.torontona.org/calendar/category/meetings/