Support groups causing cravings

Old 09-06-2021, 05:36 AM
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Support groups causing cravings

Does anybody else find this? I have been to a few support groups (not AA) but other groups and find that I end up drinking right after it the groups are a few hours and I think it's because they talk so much about alcohol I just end up drinking after it.

I find it's better for me when I keep myself busy and try and just ignore the thoughts of alchol etc..

Is this just me or does anybody else feel the same way after group meetings?

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Old 09-06-2021, 06:16 AM
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You are not the first to ask this question. Sometimes I wondered if AA or any other group could act as a hindrance in some way as well as being helpful. For me, it was kind of a sliding scale in that few things are never 100% good or 100% bad. You may find you need to find a balance, or find an alternative. The guy that come up with the program of Rational Recovery is adamant that recovery groups of any sort are more harmful than good. But I disagree with that extreme position. However, I think it is good to be open to the question, and evaluate parts of any program and discard those that are not helpful. That's what I did in AA, and after many years, I left the program for good, not because I saw it as more harmful, but because there was no more good that I could borrow from it. Basically, it had become redundant for me, and there was no more to gain from the program.

The fellowship involved in any program is mostly positive for me, and that was true in AA. Not that it was 100% positive. Since it involved personal interactions, I saw a lot of sometimes unusually shocking behavior. Why? I guess it's because human beings were involved, and people do a lot of really dumb things. But you sort through that stuff and reject the harmful, rather than jump in the middle of it and join in.

Is it possible for any program to be more harmful than good? I think so, and even within programs, there can be groups that you would do well to avoid completely. Finding a good recovery group is like finding a good doctor. They are not all the same. And some are much better at certain things. I have known doctors that were best for me to avoid, and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone.
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Old 09-06-2021, 08:04 AM
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I agree with DriGuy as usual. I found some support groups to be better than others and none of them could fulfill everything *I* thought they should be.

Several hours would be too long for me, no matter how good a meeting it was, I think. Support groups by their very nature are random, sometimes chaotic, sometimes very disturbing and an hour is enough! Regardless!

With that said, I went to AA meetings for several months in early sobriety and there was nothing anyone could have said or done that would have made me drink. That was a decision I made before I went to the very first meeting. I was D.O.N.E. with alcohol. I went to only hour-long meetings but I went to several different types - from speaker meetings to book-studies to discussion to beach bonfires. It's good to try a bunch of different locations and different groups of people. I found meetings to be interesting for the most part but I couldn't figure out a way to use the culture in a way that was helpful so I stopped going.

Still stayed sober, that was my own personal decision.
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Old 09-06-2021, 08:56 AM
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I think the main thing is that you find what works for you. Whatever helps to keep you sober is the right thing for you.
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Old 09-06-2021, 09:35 AM
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I personally found that cravings were rooted in my addiction, not any specific external stimulus, and that it ( addition ) would use any excuse possible to get me back drinking again. And also think that just "keeping busy and trying to ignore the thoughts" is akin to white-knuckling. At some point I think we all need to address/accept our condition up front and personal, and it's a very uncomfortable/difficult thing to do. AKA - if you have a sore tooth, ignoring the pain isn't going to fix the problem, eventually you need to go see a dentist and have it fixed.

There are certainly people who don't go to group meetings though, I would be one of them. Having said that, I still actively engage in this community and I do talk about my addiction and read stories here that involve a lot of talk about drinking. Does some of it make me think about drinking? Absolutely - but it also reminds me that I need to keep working on my strategy and probably spend MORE time, not less, on accepting my condition and living with it.
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Old 09-06-2021, 10:24 AM
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When I was struggling with getting sober, I also sometimes felt that way. It's like I was feeling forced to think about drinking when I wasn't thinking about it at all (or trying my best not to). Echoing what others have said - all groups are not alike, so you may find it useful to shop around. In addition, it depends upon where you are in your recovery, as well as your current mindset and emotional state, as to whether or not talking about drinking acts as a trigger for you. I also wouldn't see any harm in mentioning to the group the fact that you do feel that way around such talk. You may find you are not alone.
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Old 09-06-2021, 10:42 AM
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The reason I drank, support group or whatever (you name it), was because I was physically and mentally addicted.

The addiction starts out subtle, e.g. my dog is cute, time to drink, or my boss is a jerk, time to drink etc etc etc.

If I deny the addiction, the crave ramps up. It gets worse and worse, peaking at a feeling of total certifiable insanity. Folks end up on RX meds.

This is the cycle. There is no mystery, it is science. Left brain vs right brain. Dopamine etc.

The only way out is through the hell on earth. If getting clean was easy, nobody would do it.

Suffering and time.

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Old 09-06-2021, 12:05 PM
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Yep, you are not the only one. I too have experienced that. My toughest struggles when getting sober once were right after a meeting. I made the mistake of actually mentioning this to the group and from that point on I was an outcast. Not exactly what I needed in early sobriety. Changing which meetings I went to would not have mattered as the same 30/40 people hawked all the meetings within a 10/15 mile radius of my home. Basically all meetings close enough to attend were controlled by the same group of people.

Opinions, thoughts, and perspectives change a lot as more time is accumulated. It's just a natural progression. That is something to always keep in mind.

Another way to look at this is as if you were fasting and went to listen to people talk about food for a few hours. It's going to keep implanting the the thought of food when it is the last thing you need to think about. If you are going to bring up this situation to this group then use an analogy like this so they don't get defensive.
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Old 09-06-2021, 12:51 PM
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Maybe try SMART meetings. They don't look at the past or talk about drinking/drugs as such but focus on coping techniques and practical skills to deal with urges etc. Looking forwward
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Old 09-06-2021, 06:41 PM
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I would have thought going to AA to talk about alcohol would make things worse. A non drinking friend, not recovered just never liked drinking, once seemed really puzzled. How is getting together and talking about drinking supposed to keep you guys sober?

To me AA is about how to live sober. To go through examples of how the alcoholic mind works and to me my old way of thinking becomes comical. Knowing our condition and wanting to drink is nothing short of insanity. Once I step back and look at how my mind works I find it amusing. It's about how we use the steps in day to day life. I don't know how many times I've gone to a meeting all wound up and come out feeling much better.

I don't go like I use to. There was a good period of time I didn't go at all. I realized I need other alcoholics both here and in person and I need the steps in my life. Even if I'm not totally by the book anymore. Getting a sponsor, getting bombarded with meetings early on, working the steps, made that first year much easier then I would have thought possible.
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Old 09-06-2021, 07:35 PM
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I expect that it varies for different people. For me AVRT & this forum is all I've ever used, never tried AA nor ever been to a meeting. Few things trigger me at all but oddly one thing that starts a mild craving is seeing someone drink in a film/movie. I dunno why this would be. Everyone is a little different I suppose.
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Old 09-06-2021, 09:02 PM
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I read it here fairly regularly and it makes sense to me - if you drink over stress anxiety and fear, and you're going to meetings which may dredge up those kinds of feelings you may well feel you want a drink.

A craving doesn't have to be acted upon tho, and those uncomfortable feelings won't last the more meetings become familiar to you- all we have to do is keep on making good decisions and outlast those bad feelings, SP

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Old 09-07-2021, 03:06 AM
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I think it may be a common experience in recovery where alcohol slips from your mind when you are not even realizing it. I remember being surprised the first time it dawned on me that I hadn't even thought about alcohol for an entire week. Not a craving or even a passing thought. Thinking about it now, I'm sure I must have been attending meetings during that time, most likely every night too. So obviously I had to be thinking about alcohol, because that's what you do at AA. But there's thinking in the analytical sense, as opposed to obsessing about alcohol. Apparently, thinking analytically, at least for me at that time, must have had no affect on stimulating the annoying debilitating obsessive thoughts.

Going to a rip roaring frat party is one thing. Recovery meetings are quite different, but I do accept that both could be triggers for some people. And on a couple of occasions, I did briefly consider the possibility of AA as a trigger, and I knew many members who would suddenly fall off the wagon right after attending a meeting, but I can't help but think that some other dynamic must have been taking place to cause that.

I'm not sure if everyone can compartmentalize the analytical and the obsessive, but it seemed natural, even as it surprised me. It also struck me as a big step forward in recovery. I believe is this is the kind of "freedom" we all seek in sobriety, not just being sober, but also to not be haunted by alcohol, while basking in the contentment of an alcohol free life.
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Old 09-07-2021, 06:45 AM
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I am currently working a few different things. I am attending AA meetings online. I don't agree with everything AA related, but I have found a meeting(morning) that I enjoy and the sense of community. I am also exploring more about Smart recovery. They did have a class regarding it at my inpatient rehab but I honestly didn't pay much attention to it. I should have but didn't. I am going to sign up for a class later today and or tomorrow, I have to check the list online.

I did quite a few meetings last week but took a few days off because my gf was visiting and I decided to spend that time with her. I don't want AA to define who I am and become obsessed with going to meetings, just my opinion of course. I think everyone has their own path and I'm trying different things. So far so good but I've got a long way to go.
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Old 09-07-2021, 08:32 AM
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AA was very triggering to me personally. The meetings (I have social anxiety), the drunk-alogs (because I would think my drinking wasn't as bad), the steps (because it dug up so much emotional baggage) and the sponsors I had (because all but one were not competent). I would end up wondering what the heck I was doing there.

Having said that, I found some great meetings overseas that I enjoyed for some reason, and I have seen some people do very well in AA, and gain long term sobriety. It all depends on our situation, and we have to find what works for us.
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Old 09-07-2021, 08:45 AM
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Support groups are good for some and not for others.
Programs are good for some and not for others.

I am so grateful that recovery is not the "one size fits every person" and we can find what works for us and leave what does not behind.
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Old 09-10-2021, 01:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Sampierce55 View Post
Does anybody else find this? I have been to a few support groups (not AA) but other groups and find that I end up drinking right after it the groups are a few hours and I think it's because they talk so much about alcohol I just end up drinking after it.

I find it's better for me when I keep myself busy and try and just ignore the thoughts of alchol etc..

Is this just me or does anybody else feel the same way after group meetings?

I have had similar experiences, oddly its like a trigger at worst experience was going to a meeting in a churh in peckham, south london.....drug dealers outside as people are going in for help....... i had to do a runner.... blew my mind.
(naturally not all will be like this!)
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