Why does Alcohol Services place such a premium on recovery groups? This question is especially relevant in an era where focus is on finding the right addiction medicine, teaching ways to change one's thinking about drinking, recognizing drinking cues and individual empowerment. While these are important they pale in comparison to developing and belonging to a recovery community. There is something special when one alcoholic breaks through the isolation of another. "Sharing your story" helps not only the speaker but the listener. Ernie Kurtz once described AA as based on the "shared honesty of mutual vulnerability freely acknowledged". That's what we try to create for our patients.
Group therapy is not to provide education or one on one counselling in front of an audience. We try to create an environment where members attempt to stay sober and enter recovery together. Members who have been sober for a while help newcomers. They reach out and show how they were able to stop drinking and begin a program of recovery.
Here are the magic phrases: "Yes, me too." "You're telling my story." "How did you know?" "If you can do it maybe I can too."
In essence we try to create a structure where a community can develop and create an environment where recovery can happen.