A support group can be an excellent addition to your recovery process by providing social assistance, aiding in the development of coping skills and encouragement, as well as reducing depression symptoms, and improving your psychological stability.
This article will discuss the benefits and purpose of a support group and what you can expect. This article also outlines where to find support groups that meet your needs.
What is a support group?
There are many misconceptions about a support group, including about what they can or cannot do. A support group is a group that shares their concerns and experiences. These support groups meet regularly to offer advice, comfort, or encouragement.
Although support groups are essential for those in recovery, they do not provide treatment. Instead, their focus is on peer support. Members can share their stories and celebrate their successes with each other, as well as discuss coping strategies.
While family and friends can still be a source of support for those in recovery, they may not always be able to understand the individual’s situation fully. Support groups fill a critical gap in social support by allowing people to share their experiences and empathize with one another.
What to Expect
A support group is a great place to meet others going through similar issues, such as addictions or mental disorders.
Mutual support groups are often started by inviting members to introduce themselves. Or they might ask a member to volunteer to share with the group.
Inviting a friend or family member to your first meeting with your support group might be helpful if you’re anxious. Here are some critical points to keep in mind:
- Respect confidentiality for other members of the group. People might share their most powerful stories or difficult experiences. Please respect their privacy and keep information between you and others.
- Participation is not required. There is no obligation to participate in support groups. You can talk as much or as little as you like. This will allow you to get to know the group and decide whether it is right for you.
You should feel comfortable in the group to enable you to open up to your peers and get to know them.
- Ask questions. Ask questions if you are unsure about something or if there’s a process that the group uses that you don’t know. Your support group members can offer helpful information that will help you feel more confident and empowered as you move forward with your recovery journey.
How to join a Support Group
Most support groups require that you are open to starting recovery. Most people walk into a support group near them and join it. There are no fees or dues, and no invitations are required. Members often take part in voluntary collections.
There are both members and non-members who can attend “open” meetings, as well as members and prospective members who can only participate in closed sessions. You might find the following codes depending on the type and location of your meeting. These codes indicate an exclusive support group or additional services.
- (BS) Book Study
- (ASL) American Sign Language
- (G) Gay/lesbian
- (D) Discussion
- (CF) Child-friendly
- Only for Men (M)
- (P) Participation
- (SS) Step Study
- (W) Only for women
- (WA) Wheelchair Access
How to find the right group for you
When looking for support groups in your area, it is best to contact your primary care doctor or mental health professional. You can also search the websites of various support groups to find local meetings or online support groups.
Apps to Find Meetings
You can find meeting places and meeting information with some organizations using apps. These apps allow you to locate meetings in your area:
- Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting Guide (alcoholics anonymous app)
- NA Meeting Search by Narcotics Anonymous
- Al-Anon Family Groups – Al-Anon
Some databases provide detailed information that allows you to find out which meetings are accessible for people with disabilities, are non-smoking or LGBTQ+ friendly, and other details. However, some pages may not have enough detail and only list organizers’ phone numbers or contact information.
Below is a list of mutual support groups and their meeting schedules. In addition, there are many online meeting options if you can’t find a face-to-face (in-person), meeting.
These include 12-step groups as well as those with other philosophies.
- Alcoholics Anonymous: Find the phone numbers for AA Central Offices or Intergroups by zip code, state, or both. Although the site doesn’t give location information for local meetings, Intergroup local sites do. In addition, meetings can be found all over the globe, which can prove very helpful when you travel.
- Celebrate Recovery: A Christ-centered 12-step program for anyone struggling with pain, hurt, or addiction. This group also offers Zoom and Facebook Live meetings.
- Chemical Dependent Anonymous: Search by state to find a CD meeting. It is a 12-step program that supports “abstinence” from all mood-altering and mind-altering drugs, including alcohol and street drugs.
- Cocaine Anonymous: A 12 step program to help you quit using cocaine, alcohol, or other mind-altering drugs.
- Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA): Find CMA meetings by zip code or distance. They follow a 12-step process providing support for crystal meth addicts.
- Dual Recovery Anonymous: This 12-step program is for people with psychiatric and substance abuse disorders.
- The Life Ring Secular Recovery is available online or at a local Life Ring meeting. The Life Ring philosophy differs from 12-step programs because it doesn’t require you to rely upon a higher power but supports your ability to strengthen sobriety while reducing your addiction.
- Marijuana Anonymous: Find a list of online and in-person meetings by location. You can also search for meetings using iOS, Android, and Windows apps. It’s a 12-step process.
- Moderation Management: View a map and a list of all the meetings in the world, or sign up for telephone meetings. Moderation Management promotes responsible drinking over a total abstinence philosophy.
- Narcotics Anonymous: You can search the meeting database by region. An NA Meeting Search App for iOS and Android is also available.
- Pills Anonymous: 12-step program that includes meetings all over the globe.
- SMART Recovery: You can search the SMART database for meeting locations by country or state. SMART isn’t a 12-step program. It’s a self-help program for addiction to substances and alcohol.
- Women for sobriety is an abstinence-based group for women struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. WFS offers in-person meetings, video conferencing, and an online support forum.
Families and codependents
These meetings are open to those with family members or friends who struggle with addictions or other problem behavior. However, these groups are not the only ones that exist. Many sites offer links to support groups for families of addicts.
- Search for Adult Children of Alcoholics to find an ACA Meeting Near You. They also offer online and telephone meetings.
- Alanon and Alateen: Find an Al-Anon Family Group meeting near you in the United States or Canada. The site can be used to search for online meetings, international meetings, and phone meetings.
- Recovery from unhealthy relationships with codependents Anonymous is possible through a 12-step program.
- Families Anonymous: Download a PDF file of the FA meeting by state. This 12-step program is for family members with addiction or problematic behavior.
- Nar-Anon is a 12-step support group for family members and friends of those with substance abuse disorders.
- Recovering Couples Anonymous is a 12-step group for couples who want to rebuild and sustain their relationship after recovery.