“Traumatic events destroy the sustaining bonds between individual and community. Those who have survived learn that their sense of self, of worth, of humanity, depends upon a feeling of connection with others. The solidarity of a group provides the strongest protection against terror and despair, and the strongest antidote to traumatic experience. Trauma isolates; the group re-creates a sense of belonging. Trauma shames and stigmatizes; the group bears witness and affirms. Trauma degrades the victim; the group exalts her. Trauma dehumanizes the victim; the group restores her humanity.
Repeatedly in the testimony of survivors there comes a moment when a sense of connection is restored by another person’s unaffected display of generosity. Something in herself that the victim believes to be irretrievably destroyed—faith, decency, courage—is reawakened by an example of common altruism. Mirrored in the actions of others, the survivor recognizes and reclaims a lost part of herself. At that moment, the survivor begins to rejoin the human commonality…” Judith Lewis Herman
Finding my recovery tribe has been hard. Having belonged to several different 12 step recovery groups, I have not found a place where I can talk about my dual diagnosis–alcoholism and depression. Yet 50% of those in the rooms have both–addiction and mental illness. I believe most of what is labeled “relapse” is really untreated mental illness. Sad, but true. Mental illness is a taboo topic at addiction recovery meetings. How can we recover if we can’t be honest?
Recovery is an individual journey. 24,000,000 of us are on this journey. Most of us (90%) are not in a 12 step group. We may use the 12 steps as a guide for our lives but being committed to just one addiction has not been the path many of us has followed. For those of us who are on a dual recovery journey, I believe we need several different support groups at the same time.
Addiction recovery education for the 89% of addicts who don’t receive treatment is easy to provide. By using Facebook groups, anyone can create and maintain online education support peer groups.
I love groups because I believe all mental health to be transitory. So at any given time someone in a group is well. It is like a football we pass around. Sometimes we are “it” and sometimes we’re in a crazy zone.
In the self-discovery model of group healing, everyone in the group is a student. The sharing of power in relationships defines the health of the relationship.
Facebook groups are easy to set up but need to have good organization and maintenance to be effective. I have a new website, Emotional Recovery has Many Paths, which contains all the content needed to set up discussion groups about long term recovery. Very easy on the internet to find preliminary information about addiction, treatment, etc. But content of what is needed for long term recovery is hard to find.