What are Addiction Recovery Support Groups?

What are recovery support groups? Peer-based support groups known as mutual help organizations are free, peer-led and focus mainly on social support for individuals with substance use disorders within the addiction recovery community. These support groups do not provide any formal type of treatment. They merely encourage support, open and honest communication and provide a sense of community for those who are experiencing similar life situations throughout their recovery. Some of the more popular recovery support groups include 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous; and secular programs such as SMART Recovery and Women for Sobriety. There are even support groups for families of those with drug and alcohol addictions. These groups include Adult Children of Alcoholics, Al-Anon, Co-dependents Anonymous, Families Anonymous and Nar-Anon. 

A group of young adults in an addiction recovery support group meeting, sitting in a circle looking concerned over a young man.

For many clients in drug and alcohol recovery, joining a support group can be a highly beneficial treatment option when it comes to long-term sobriety. In fact, most drug and alcohol rehab programs recommend support groups as a vital part of a comprehensive treatment plan for their clients. Your primary care provider or a mental health professional is the best place to start when looking for a local recovery support group. 

Why consider a support group if you have a support system of friends and family? A solid support system of friends and loved ones are important when it comes to addiction recovery. Studies have shown that those who have the support of their loved ones, have a much higher success rate of recovery and maintaining long-term sobriety. However, despite their love and guidance, sometimes these loved ones don’t always understand the intricacies of the addiction. Whereas peer support groups offer relationships with those who can fully understand and connect with the experiences of battling an addiction.

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Peer recovery support groups offer a safe environment for individuals to be open and honest about their addiction and the challenges they face on a daily basis. Opening up to a community of like-minded peers helps members develop effective coping skills and strategies that can prevent them from relapsing and staying accountable. It offers a sense of belonging and inclusion to a subject matter that is often stigmatized by the general public. Oftentimes those who suffer from addiction face isolation, shame and fear. These recovery groups can enhance motivation, reduce depressive symptoms and overall increase an individual’s psychological and emotional well-being due to their socially supportive nature. 

When it comes to addiction support groups, there is no one size fits all. There are peer-led support groups for people from all communities and backgrounds. There are open meetings, closed meetings, meetings specifically for women only, and meetings for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

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The 12-step programs are one of the largest recovery groups and are widely accessible across the US and Canada. These types of support groups focus on the acceptance of finding a higher power as the key to a successful recovery. Others who choose a more self-management style of recovery often turn to SMART, which is a social support group that focuses on helping individuals change negative patterns, address triggers and encourages self-empowerment to overcome their addiction. For newly recovered individuals, some participate in what is called a “90 in 90.” The individual will attend 90 support group meetings in 90 days to help build a new routine and a healthy foundation for sober living. For anyone suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, a behavioral health care provider such as Hotel California by the Sea offers a full comprehensive treatment plan that includes peer support groups. 

Hotel California by the Sea is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment provider with options for detox, residential and outpatient programs. Focusing on clients with co-occurring mental health disorders, a multitude of therapeutic options including EMDR therapy, CBT and DBT are available. Clients also have ample opportunities to locate and participate in local peer recovery support groups as a part of their individualized treatment care. Treating every aspect of a client’s addiction including a social support system results in a successful recovery journey.