Recovery Support Groups

Empowering Paths: The Role of Support Groups in Recovery

Support groups play a vital role in substance use treatment in the United States. Research has shown that active involvement in support groups significantly improves the likelihood in achieving sobriety.

In a support group, the members share a common problem, often a common disease or addiction. Support groups can occur in a wide variety of forms, from two individuals sharing experience and coping strategies, to small groups gathering in community meeting rooms, to large, incorporated organizations offering information, support and advocacy services.

Recovery from substance abuse is an ongoing life event requiring long-term support and treatment and recovery support groups are extremely helpful for persons suffering from substance use disorders and for their families and friends.

For those who regularly participate, finding a sense of belonging is a common experience. They connect with others who share similar struggles and challenges, fostering a sense of camaraderie and understanding. Within this supportive environment, recovery support groups empower individuals to strive for recovery and take ownership of their substance abuse issues, helping them to move forward in a positive direction.

AA: Pioneering the Twelve Steps of Self-Help

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), established in 1935 by Bill W. (William Griffith Wilson) and Dr. Bob (Robert Holbrook Smith) in New York and Ohio stands as an example of self-help or support groups. AA is currently available in over 180 countries with more than 123,000 groups and an estimated membership of over two million. AA literature has been translated into over 100 languages.

How It Works

Meetings within these support groups typically follow a standardized structure, where members share their personal stories, including their background and experiences within the program. This sharing is often followed by other members sharing their own stories and experiences, creating a sense of community and connection among group members.

Support groups prove invaluable not only in maintaining sobriety but also as a sanctuary for seeking support and navigating challenges. Connecting with individuals who intimately understand one’s struggles can alleviate feelings of isolation, fear, and despair. With a support network to lean on, staying motivated and positive becomes markedly more feasible.

Members of recovery groups are individuals of all races and religions –  admission simply depends on the acknowledgment of a problem spiraling out of control and a desire for assistance. Meetings are freely accessible, with no prerequisites beyond the intent to recover. Some groups offer “open” gatherings, welcoming all, while others operate on a “closed” basis, exclusively for those committed to overcoming their specific addiction or behavior.

Research consistently underscores the pivotal role of active participation in self-help support groups, substantially enhancing prospects for sustained recovery. These free support networks exist in most communities, expanding across America’s villages and towns. 

Recovery Support Groups:

The following represents only a partial list of some of the most widely available recovery support groups:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

An international fellowship of men and women who come together to share their experience, strength and hope with the purpose of staying sober and helping others to achieve sobriety. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.


Al-Anon and Alateen provide a beacon of hope and support for anyone whose life has been impacted by the alcoholism of a loved one or friend. Whether the person you’re concerned about is still struggling with addiction or has already sought recovery, our programs offer a safe and confidential space for friends and family members to share their experiences, gain strength, and find healing.

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA)

Adult Children of Alcoholics is a supportive community of individuals who grew up in an environment with addiction or other challenges. This anonymous Twelve Step program provides a safe space for people to share their experiences, heal, and thrive as they break free from the past and build a brighter future.

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered program designed to help individuals overcome various hurts, habits, and hang-ups, including substance use. It uses a 12-step approach integrated with biblical principles, offering a supportive community and faith-based resources for healing and personal growth.

Cocaine Anonymous (CA)

A fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from their addiction; the primary purpose is to stay free from cocaine and all other mind-altering substances, and to help others achieve the same freedom.

Crystal Meth Anonymous

Crystal Meth Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other, so they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from addiction to crystal meth. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using.

Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA)

Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA) offers support for individuals managing both substance use and mental health concerns. Their program integrates 12-step recovery principles with a focus on addressing dual diagnosis challenges, providing a supportive community for members to share their journeys towards healing and sobriety.

Families Anonymous

Family Anonymous provides support groups for relatives and friends concerned about the use of drugs or related behavioral problems.

Gamblers Anonymous (GA)

Gamblers Anonymous is a twelve-step fellowship for individuals recovering from gambling problems.

HAMS (Harm Reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support)

HAMS offers a supportive environment for individuals seeking harm reduction, abstinence, or moderation in their substance use. Their approach is non-judgmental and evidence-based, providing practical strategies and resources to help individuals make informed decisions about their drinking habits and work towards their goals of reduced harm or sobriety.

Heroin Anonymous (HA)

Heroin Anonymous focuses on recovery from heroin use, providing support through fellowship and mutual aid. It follows the 12-step methodology, offering meetings and resources to help individuals achieve and maintain sobriety.

LifeRing Secular Recovery

A network of support groups for people who want to live free of alcohol and drugs. LifeRing Secular Recovery offers a non-religious, secular approach to recovery and emphasizes self-help, personal growth, and peer support.

Marijuana Anonymous (MA)

Marijuana Anonymous is a twelve-step fellowship that addresses the common problem of marijuana addiction. There are in-person and online meetings. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using marijuana.

Medication-assisted Recovery Anonymous

At Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous (MARA), we offer a safe and supportive environment where you can find your own path to recovery, regardless of your individual needs.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

NA is a fellowship of men and women who come together for the purpose of sharing their recovery from substance abuse. NA members are working together in a spirit of unity and cooperation to carry their message of recovery. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using.

Nar-Anon Family Groups (Nar-Anon)

Nar-Anon is a twelve-step program designed to help relatives and friends of addicts recover from the effects of living with a relative or friend facing the challenges of addiction.

Nicotine Anonymous

Nicotine Anonymous is a twelve-step fellowship of people helping each other live nicotine-free. Nicotine Anonymous welcomes all those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction, including those using cessation programs and nicotine withdrawal aids.

Refuge Recovery

Refuge Recovery provides a Buddhist-inspired approach to healing and personal growth, centered on mindfulness, meditation, and ethical living. Their community offers support and guidance for individuals seeking to overcome challenges and find lasting peace and wellness.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

Secular Organizations for Sobriety provides a secular, science-based approach to recovery. This group focuses on individual responsibility and self-reliance.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a self-empowering support group helping individuals achieve a balanced and fulfilling life. This group focuses on self-empowerment and self-reliance. uses evidence-based techniques from cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety is a self-help program focusing on emotional and spiritual growth for women. It uses the New Life Program focusing on emotional and spiritual growth.

Young People in Recovery

Young People in Recovery (YPR) is a national grassroots organization dedicated to providing peer-led recovery support for young people. Through advocacy, educational resources, and community-based programs, YPR aims to improve access to treatment, reduce stigma, and empower young people to achieve and sustain recovery from substance use disorders.