There is often confusion for people who are dealing with an addiction of whether or not they should participate in a 12-step support group, or if they should participate in therapy. Both have their potential benefits. 12-step support groups can give you a support system, is more likely to be at convenient times, and there is no cost to these groups. Therapy can give you the feedback and perspective that you need in order to understand and fix the basis of your problems.
Therapy does cost, and it takes a commitment. For addictions, it is rarely a short process. For it to work well, you will have to work hard. However, if you are working with a skilled therapist, and you commit to the process, you will give yourself a chance of deep healing. You will be better equipped to identify difficult, underlying problems, and work through them in a way that can lead to long term contentment.
Support groups can help you with maintaining a level of abstinence, but they don’t take the place of therapy. Although the people in recovery who participate in these support groups have significant life experience, they rarely have any therapeutic training. Thus, if you are participating in a support group, it is best to find a therapist to work with as well.
The reluctance of some people in recovery to participate in therapy is understandable in some situations. Many of those who are in 12-step groups have had negative therapeutic experiences that tarnished their opinions of therapy. Others may have participated in therapy before they were ready for recovery, and did not completely commit to the therapeutic process. Regardless, it is important to choose a therapist who has significant training in the particular issues that you are looking to work through. After doing difficult work with a therapist, your support groups can then be even more useful. Working through difficult subjects is not an easy process. However, if you find someone who can help you work through past experiences, feelings, abuse, and baggage, you will find that you can rebuild a life that you never thought previously possible.