Annalice Sibley talks about how she set up an online support group to help women in recovery
After working with women in substance misuse services and being a woman in recovery myself, I noticed that many women-only face-to-face groups had been set up and closed due to low levels of continuous attendance. One of the reasons I found for this was fear of being ‘known’, as many members had children and were concerned about issues such as childcare and domestic violence.
I decided to set up a Facebook group, dedicated to my friend Michelle Duell who died as a result of addiction early last year. I believe the group helps with coping strategies, helps women feel more empowered and gives them a sense of community – a place to relate their personal experiences and one that provides understanding.
Women open up on issues that would otherwise be taboo in mixed meetings. The ‘closed’ group means only members can see posts, and it is open to women already in recovery looking for continued support, as well as those looking for a way out. The group is also open to female family members seeking understanding as well as professional females, such as counsellors and drug workers.
‘Women have very different issues to men regarding addiction,’ said one anonymous member of the group. ‘Many are afraid to admit they have a problem due to the fear of losing their children. If we can help and support just one such mother with our own experiences, then it’s a worthwhile group.’
The group, which can be found through Facebook’s searchbar, has more than 1,000 members – the majority from the UK – and is growing every day. I believe we need other women in our lives to heal and stay sober – we pray for the right women to join so we can experience the ‘spirit of sisterhood’.
Annalice Sibley is a counsellor/12-step therapist and founder of Women Only