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But, we are beginning, as a nation, to do something about our addictions:
Between 14 and 16 million Americans attend one of 500,000 different self-help groups that meet weekly around the country. The number of groups is expected to double in the years to come. It is estimated that over 60 million Americans will be in self-help groups.
Self-help groups exist for a mind-boggling array of issues; compulsive shopping, obesity (National Association to Aid Fat Americans), grief and loss, gambling (Gamblers Anonymous), adult children of alcoholics, parents of teens in trouble (Tough love), co-survivors of incest, cocaine addicts, chronic pain. There are even esoteric groups for women whose daughters won’t talk to them, and for people addicted to caffeinated soft drinks.
Many self-help groups are loosely structured: people meet together to share their stories. There is no leader, no agenda, and no therapist. Yet these groups help people greatly, as the enthusiastic testimony of members indicate. Just being with others who understand what you are going through is help enough.
The most common meeting place for these groups is in churches. However, they generally do not meet on Sundays, nor are they run by the church. In fact, they often avoid any connection with a particular church, because they want to be open to people of all religions. Therefore, the majority of these groups are secular in orientation.
A number of these groups are based on the Twelve Step program. These are the “anonymous” groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. These are the most structured of the self-help groups, in that they have a format for the meetings and are often linked to a national organization.
- Purpose (georgehach.wordpress.com)