The society faces many challenges that affect the livelihood of individuals on a daily basis. However, survival depends on the ability of one to cope with situations and find a way forward despite the challenges. Interaction with people beyond family and friends can be very helpful in making one feel better especially when stressed. Support groups are one way of assisting individuals with unique concerns such as drugs and substance abuse, domestic violence and gender inequality to solve their problems. People who face the same challenges can share experiences and help each other to change the perception they have of their condition because by talking to others with similar problems the burden of isolation and stigma reduces. It is important to look at the formation of support groups and how they help to serve special interests in society by providing hope and creating a sense of belonging.
The youth are a special section of the population that requires attention and guidance to overcome the challenges they face in life. This group of the population is young, and at times they overestimate their expectations, and when they fail to achieve them, they resort to anti-social behavior such as violence, theft, and alcoholism as a way of releasing stress. Even though the youth are an integral part of countries’ economies, they are still neglected when it comes to employment because of the lack of experience. This has resulted in idleness and frustration to the extent that they engage in drugs as the immediate consolation to their misfortune. Apart from unemployment other critical issues concerning the youth are school dropout, poverty and materialism and addiction to drugs and substance abuse (Lochner & Bales, 2006). These problems contribute to the decay of the moral fabric, and unless focus if put on controlling them, society risks losing more youth to vices.
Support groups are beneficial to the well-being of the child in the sense that they offer a platform for peers to talk about the issues that affect them and how best to deal with them. Group work empowers the youth to develop skills of solving the issues that affect them as a group by sharing information and news of interest to them. It is also important because members of a group with similar problems get an emotional identification through inspiration and encouragement that they get from some members who act as role models because they managed to achieve despite the challenges they have (Ebenstein, 2006). In groups, there is the security of the personal issues that the youth reveal when sharing their experience and thoughts. The youth feel comfortable opening up in groups than to professionals because of the extent of secrecy that the group members hold to themselves. Teamwork among the youth boosts their self-esteem and reduces depression because members have a sense of identity and feel part of the society through their interactions (Gitterman, 2014).
Drugs and substance abuse among the youth are ever increasing because many challenges have not been addressed such as unemployment and poverty. An active support group for the young people who are addicted to drugs should be formed with the aim of helping them change their behavior with time. Confidentiality in the support group is necessary for them to open up comfortably without fear. The group should also understand and share feeling so that all members participate in giving their experiences through self-disclosure (Figueras, 2014). Persuasion and morale building in youth groups should be done for them to see that it is possible to stop drug abuse and embrace change as done by others who faced the same problem but managed to change.
According to Turner (2011), support groups should aim at providing solutions to the problems that people face through sharing and coming up coping strategies. The youth who are addicted to drugs have their reasons as to why they use drugs; this means the support group should have a deliberate process to identify their goals and consider fighting oppressions such as discrimination by age, disability, and race (Ward, 2014). In the support group, there must be the participation of all members so that they feel equally treated but not controlled by others. Discussion and dialogue with members provide grounds for expressing ideas and give emotional support to each other. The youth who feel neglected should find the support group a useful empowerment platform to speak their mind on the challenge of addiction to drugs and be able to adopt change after getting advice from the experiences of others.
Chan (2014) noted that the formation of support groups for drug addicts should incorporate social identity issues to help the group understand the cause of abusing drugs. Moreover, the perception and belief that the jobless youth are idle to engage in drugs are one reason why many youths decide to use drugs because they want to associate themselves with others of their age who use drugs. Peer influence and the demand for them to look similar and identify themselves with others results in some of the youth engaging in drugs. Differences in religion and the belief that some religions support drug use is a social problem that needs to be rectified (Saunders, 2012). Inclusive and accessible support groups embrace the diversity of cultures and have members across different ethnic lines so that different experiences are shared ( Kumaran, 2011). The location of a support group must be at a place where the disabled can access because they are also entitled to getting services from support groups. Self-disclosure and confidentiality must be assured to all members because as part of the group, they all have the right to be treated fairly. Barriers to membership on the basis of age, gender or social class should be avoided so that all those facing the problem of drug addiction get a chance to join the support group.
Agenda for One Support Group Session
Topic: Managing without Alcohol
1. Introduction from the facilitator (5mins)
The facilitator welcomes members of the support group to the session and introduces the topics of discussion.
2. Icebreakers (15mins)
Members are put into groups of three and given time to do some physical exercise of their choice.
3. Song (5mins)
Members sing a song after reassembling before talks start
4. Open floor for members to share their experiences on the use of alcohol and some side effects they have faced
5.Encouragement talk from a case study- someone who was an addict before but who has managed to live without drinking
6. Questions and contribution from members on the lessons learned (10mins)
The relevance of the introduction in the session is to alert members of the topic of discussion while icebreakers are meant to give members a chance to interact and get to know each other well in groups (Murphy & Khazanchi, 2008). The song is used to create the mood for the session to begin. Experiences are shared to disclose what members have gone through while the case study is used to attach relevance to the topic and to show evidence that it is indeed possible to survive without alcohol. A question and answer session are meant to find out if members benefitted.
Dealing with a particular group of people with special interests requires a keen study of the environment and application of their experiences in the search for a solution that gives answers to their concerns and worries. It is important to come up with effective means to help special interest groups to achieve their goals through sharing experiences and changing the perceptions they hold of issues that affect them.
Chan, M. (2014). Social identity gratifications of social network sites and their impact on collective action participation. Asian Journal Of Social Psychology, 17(3), 229-235.
Ebenstein, H. (2006). Caregiver Support Groups: Finding Common Ground. Social Work With Groups, 29(2-3), 243-258.
Figueras, J. (2014). Moderation and facilitation of group discussions. European Journal Of
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Gitterman, A. (2006). Building Mutual Support in Groups. Social Work With Groups, 28(3-4), 91-106.
Kumaran, K. (2011). The role of Self-help Groups in Promoting Inclusion and Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 22(2).
Lochner, A., & Bales, S. (2006). Framing youth issues for public support. New Directions For Youth Development, 2006(112), 11-23.
Murphy, J., & Khazanchi, D. (2008). Synergistic Ideation Through Pairing Participants in Facilitated Group Support Systems Sessions. American Journal Of Business, 23(2), 27-36.
Saunders, P. (2012). Religiosity, citizenship, and attitudes to social policy issues. Australian Journal Of Social Issues, 47(3), 335-352.
Turner, H. (2011). Concepts for Effective Facilitation of Open Groups. Social Work With Groups, 34(3-4), 246-256.
Ward, N. (2014). Book review: Donna Baines (ed.) Doing Anti-Oppressive Practice: Social Justice Social WorkBainesDonna (ed.) Doing Anti-Oppressive Practice: Social Justice Social Work, 2nd edition, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Fernwood, 2011. 342 pp. ?22.50 (Pbk). ISBN 9781552664100. Critical Social Policy, 34(1), 140-142.