Self-help group to begin

By Jayna Ronayne

Chemically-dependent people in the DeKalb community now can get self-help through a nationally-known recovery program.

Rational Recovery will meet for the first time locally Dec. 2, 7:15 p.m., at the Wesley Foundation, 633 W. Locust.

The group uses principles, developed by Albert Ellis, known as rational-emotive therapy. The therapy is an approach that looks at whether someone’s beliefs are rational or irrational and then helps the person dispel their irrational beliefs.

An example of an irrational belief is a person must be perfectly competent, adequate and achieving to consider themself worthwhile. It is this kind of incorrect thinking that keeps the person from being happy, and the therapy helps to correct this.

“The purpose (of the group) is to learn about themselves and keep them from using mind-altering drugs,” said Les Lewis, coordinator for the group.

“We share our feelings with each other,” he said. “A lot of us have come from other programs we weren’t happy with.”

Lewis said in other groups the people are expected to look to a “higher power” for help, while in Rational Recovery, the people believe in themselves.

“We also talk about the difference between us and the 12-step program,” Lewis said.

Alcoholics Anonymous is an example of a 12-step program, which is a set of steps to overcome the problem. Some of the steps deal with admitting the problem, apologizing and helping others in the program.

“In our group, it isn’t for the rest of your life. You may always be that way (a substance abuser), but you don’t have to think about it all the time.”

Another difference between Rational Recovery and the 12-step program involves the way that people within the groups see themselves.

“When we introduce ourselves, we don’t say ‘I am a substance abuser’ like the 12-step program. We say, ‘I was a substance abuser,'” Lewis said. “You look at it as ‘it (the substance) doesn’t bother me, and I don’t bother it.'”

“The group is strictly for chemically-dependent people,” Lewis said. “If people are really troubled, we will have backups and referrals to appropriate sources.”

The meeting is the first of an on-going group that plans to meet at least weekly. The first session will last until about 8:45 p.m. There is no charge, and guests are welcome to attend.