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The Maine Approach

ELEMENT 4 - Support Groups


After policy and procedures have been implemented and when the climate in the school reflects a concern and a willingness to assist those asking for help, only then will people begin to seek help. Support groups must be available for those needing them.

  1. RECOVERING PERSONS have been through a treatment program, are in recovery and need a system of support to help them manage the school re-entry process, cope with stresses and pressures, maintain sobriety, and continue the ongoing process of emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and social growth. Research clearly documents that without an in-school support system, it is nearly impossible for recovering students to develop and maintain a healthy, ATOD-free life style.
  2. AFFECTED OR CONCERNED PERSONS are those who are affected by the ATOD dependency of a family member and those who are concerned about peers or friends. Support is needed to help them cope with their feelings of inadequacy, guilt, fear, and responsibility. Such support is a powerful contributor to their emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and social well-being.
  3. NON-USERS AND NON-AFFECTED neither use drugs nor are affected by another's use yet seek support for their "non-use" position. Despite efforts to create an understanding of ATOD dependency and a caring climate, there will be those who have difficulty making decisions about use. Providing support for these individuals allows them to express their concerns in a non judgmental setting. Such support provides the opportunity to interact and gain an increased understanding, acceptance, and support of their non-using lifestyle choice.


(Rating your understanding from 1 to a high of 5 may help in your planning and evaluation.)

Administrative support is secured and maintained by procuring school board approval through:

_____ The creation and implementation of distinct policy before any groups are
_____ The presentation to the board of an annual needs assessment of the need support groups, the number of students participating, the frequency of meetings, the duration of involvement, substantiation of positive effects, and the types of support programs currently in existence.
_____ Assurance that Board awareness includes their understanding of support functions and confidentiality issues.
_____ Periodic evaluation that correlates support group participation with improve academic readiness and more healthy lifestyle choices.
_____ The awareness that all school personnel agree that student support groups are essential for a healthy, positive school climate.

Administrators demonstrate support by:

_____ Providing a chemical health coordinator or substance abuse counselor.
_____ Listing support groups in the course selection syllabus of the school.
_____ Providing compensation for facilitators (if outside of contract).
_____ Describing support services in district policy.
_____ Participating as facilitators of groups.
_____ Promoting the program to teachers and clarifying that support group attendance is not an excuse for missed classroom assignments.

A variety of support programs exists to meet student needs. These may include but are not limited to:

Peer helpers
Social Skills Building
Conflict Management
Grief and Loss
12 Step Groups
Developing Study Skills
Living Tobacco-Free
Stress Management
Teen Mother
Eating Disorders
Family Problems
Sexual Orientation
Others, as needed

Group management strategies include:

_____ Existence of a Student Assistance Team or other process that is in effect for the identification and referral of students who need support service. The process of identification and referral, group participation processes, and a brief explanation of confidentiality are in the student handbook.
_____ Information is given to all school personnel in order that they appreciate their role in advocating for the process and the nature of support group confidentiality.
_____ Training is provided for those facilitating support groups or serving as peer helpers and mentors.
_____ Criteria is established for group membership.
_____ Outcomes are established regarding the benefits of group membership.
_____ Group size is not over 10.
_____ Co-facilitation is used.
_____ Time is available for facilitators' processing.
_____ Crisis management plans are developed and utilized when needed.
_____ A working relationship is established with local referral agencies.
_____ Support group evaluation includes input from participants.
_____ There is a clear understanding by all staff that attendance in support groups is not an excuse for missing classroom obligations.

Revised March 1995.

Maine Office of Substance Abuse
#11 State House Station
A.M.H.I. Complex, Marquardt Building
Augusta, ME 04333-0011

Main Office: 207-287-2595
Information and Resource Center: 1-800-499-0027 (In-State Only)or 207-287-8900
TTY : 1-800-606-0215

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