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Self Help


Welcome to the Self-help section. This section is primarily designed to assist individuals and their significant others impacted by drug and alcohol addiction, however, clinicians may also find the information presented useful. The three stages of recovery covered include (1) active addiction, (2) treatment, and (3) recovery (life after treatment).

Two Kinds of Help
There are basically two kinds of help: professional help and self-help. Though we may not think of many of our daily activities in these terms, we resort to both self and professional help on a daily basis.

Professional help is assistance provided by individuals to others who lack the expertise, time, or desire to complete a task themselves. Professional help may be needed for a household repair, buying a home or when we need to file our income tax. Sometimes professional help is an option, sometimes it’s not.

One important form of professional help is medical help. Traditionally, if we were sick we would go to the doctor for professional help. The doctor would conduct an assessment and make a recommendation such as medication, a change in lifestyle, or the need for further testing. Physicians and other trained professionals are there when we have a problem. Until recently, people rarely questioned the advice of doctors or other health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists.

While society will always need the services of health professionals with specialized knowledge and training, we are now living in a time when individuals are assuming more control over their own health.

Behavioural health, which encompasses mental health and addictions, has also benefited from the self-help movement. In fact, addiction was one of the first to benefit from the self-help movement (see addiction self-help groups below).

A History of the Self-Help Movement

The History of Self-Help section is designed to give readers a deeper appreciation of the impact of self-help on our modern society. Historical information specific to addiction self-help is also included.

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If you or someone you care about is actively using drugs or alcohol in a way that is negatively impacting health, relationships, and lifestyle, this section is for you.

Drug Treatment Basics

Few of us learn about the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction during our formative years. For many of us, the only time we have to think about addiction is when we read about it in the papers or watch the evening news.

However, when addiction hits home, we suddenly find ourselves in an urgent situation, unsure where to turn. Drug Treatment Basics is a crash course designed to help you become an informed consumer of alcohol and drug treatment services.

Refer to the Drug Treatment Basics section for more information.

Help for YOUR Addiction

Do you have an addiction? Refer to the Help for YOUR Addiction section which includes an Addiction Tests section with a variety of tests designed to help you figure out whether you have crossed the fuzzy line from abuse to addiction.

Help for Families & Partners

As a family member or partner of someone who is struggling with drugs and alcohol you may know there is a problem even if your loved one doesn’t want to admit it. You have tried coaxing, threatening and pleading and all you get in return is resentment and frustration. What can you do?

Our Help for Families & Partners section has some excellent resources to help you or your loved one get unstuck, including a section on family therapy.

Help for Parents & Teens

Although Sunshine Coast Health Center is for men ages 19 and older, we still receive many phone calls from parents struggling with their teenage children. As a result, a separate section in this website has been devoted to help for families struggling with teen drug addiction.

For more information visit the Help for Parents & Teens section.


The stage that follows treatment for addiction is what is commonly known as the “addiction recovery” stage. There are many excellent resources that can enhance your recovery experience from merely being clean and sober to having the kind of lifestyle and relationships that, at this early stage in your recovery, may feel like a distant dream.

Some self-help resources are addiction-specific, many are not. As recovery tools, however, these self-help resources offer the opportunity to put your recovery experience in perspective.

Just remember that self-help is meant to enhance, not replace, your existing sobriety tools such as meetings, addiction counseling and working with your sponsor. John MacDougall at Hazelden has an excellent article on this topic called “Build your Lifestyle around your Recovery, not your Recovery Around your Lifestyle.”

Our Addiction Recovery (Life After Treatment) Self-Help section features articles for individuals and their significant others who have found recovery and want to maintain and enhance the experience.

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Addiction has long benefited from peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA); and secular groups such as Rational Recovery and SOS. Lois Wilson, wife of AA founder Bill Wilson, recognized the need for significant other peer support and established Al-Anon in 1954 ¹.

While frequently referred to as “peer” or “mutual” support, the absence of professional involvement in meetings was one of the original tenets in establishing the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous ² as far back as 1950 ³. Since then, Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step support groups have grown to become some of the world’s leading self-help groups.

The following sections are designed to provide a better understanding of the various support groups listed rather than act as directories to access phone numbers 4 .

For more information on addiction self-help groups see the 12 Step Support Groups section.

(1) Source: Arizona Area Al-Anon/Alateen

(2) Note: Tradition 8 – “Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”

(3) Source:

(4) Note: For meeting phone numbers refer to the Meeting section of Canada Drug Rehab or the Meeting Directory Print-Out.

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At Sunshine Coast Health Center, we design our program knowing that a client comes to us for professional help. You expect it and we do our best to deliver. However, we also know that your time with us is just the beginning of your lifelong journey on the path to recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.

When a client returns to their home community, we will have already recommended an outpatient counsellor or support recovery home (depending on the client). That’s professional help but we will also encourage the client to connect to self-help resources such as a Sunshine Coast alumni contact and meetings in their home community. In our opinion, regular participation in both professional help with self-help, especially in the first 90 days, often means the difference between relapse and long-term recovery.

While in treatment, clients at Sunshine Coast have already participated in self-help activities that are readily available in their home community. For example, weights, cardio equipment, going for walks and swimming are excellent ways to restore physical health. The same applies to relaxation techniques, massage and off-site recreation activities such as hikes, bowling or mini-golf.

Transitioning from treatment to life in the “real world” is not always easy but self-help resources are available regardless of where a client and his/her support circle calls home.

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We all have dreams. We all want to be happy. We all need meaning in our lives, a sense of purpose. With this in mind, we have included a section called Personal Growth.

Personal growth will help you explore four important questions as you transition from a life of active addiction to a life of recovery:

Who am I?

What is my purpose here on earth?

How do I reach my full potential?

How can I serve others, including my family?

For more information visit the Personal Growth section.

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While media technology such as audiotape, video, the internet and print have made self-help accessible to millions of people, remember that self-help is not a panacea. Don’t be afraid to get professional help if you find self-help is not working. A good therapist can often help strengthen your recovery and renew confidence in your own abilities.

If you are in crisis (on the verge of a relapse are already using or drinking) then we recommend that you focus your self-help efforts on reaching out to others who can help. Don’t be ashamed when the problem exceeds your own capacity to deal with it. We’ve all been there at one point or another. Pick up the phone and get help NOW.  Call your sponsor, your counsellor, or go to a meeting ¹.

If you are feeling suicidal, dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency ward.

(1) Source: Refer to the Canada Drug Rehab website for help near you.

Disclaimer: the materials and information offered on this site are intended for educational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for needed medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment or counseling. If you have any questions, consult with your health professional before using these materials.

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