Substance use can be isolating. As Pete VanDusartz, Director of Behavioral Health for HealthPartners’ Hudson Valley hospitals and clinics says, “typically, when someone has developed a pattern of addiction and compulsion with substance use, and it starts causing problems in their life, two things they do are called doubling down and going underground.”

In the context of substance use and abuse, doubling down refers to putting a lot of effort into trying to control substance use and its consequences, while going underground refers to being secretive about substance use.

This was the starting point for our conversation with Pete, Brian Bartlett and Brian Francis, all of whom have worked for the Programs for Change substance use treatment program for many years. They joined us on the For Health’s Sake podcast to explain how support groups help with the process of recovering from addiction. We covered:

  • How the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step program influences other substance use support programs
  • How a supportive group setting helps reduce the isolating parts of addiction
  • Where support groups fit into a substance use treatment program
  • Support groups for families of people with substance use disorders

Recover at your pace

It’s normal to be nervous about attending a support group. And support groups understand that. “The majority of people do have a lot of fear walking into their first meeting,” Brian Francis said. “The nice thing is that inside that door is a bunch of people who have also gone to their first meeting. They remember what that fear was like and are very supportive. Another thing is that you're not required to share anything. You can just say pass until you’re comfortable.”