What Are Support Groups?

Support groups are non-clinical groups, often run by peers, where people can share their experiences and receive mutual support. Effective support groups should provide a safe, culturally sensitive environment where people can talk openly, without judgment, about their experiences.

While support groups alone do not constitute therapy or addiction treatment services, they are vital to recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs), especially in treating alcohol use disorder (AUD). Support groups facilitate connection at a time when many people feel isolated: when they are exploring sobriety and focusing on their recovery process.

Benefits Of Alcohol Support Groups

Support groups serve as invaluable assets for individuals undergoing treatment or recovering from SUDs, and the significance of connection in the recovery journey cannot be overstated.

Support groups provide a safe space for people to share their experiences without feeling judged. They are born from a place of mutual understanding and emotional support, which can be refreshing in a society that places such a high value on independence and personal success. They also provide much-needed accountability, which can be essential when people are navigating behavior change.

Support groups also foster connection and understanding, as many people find it inspiring to hear what others are going through, their struggles, and their successes. In this way, support groups become a wealth of information and resources.

Another significant effect of peer support groups is the increase in the participant’s sense of self-efficacy and, as a result, a decrease in risky behaviors. Reductions in negative effects, cravings, and feelings of guilt or shame have also been noted, all of which are essential aspects of long-term recovery.

Lastly, it is important to remember that peer support groups are not just for people already in recovery. They may also be helpful to people who are beginning to explore their relationship with alcohol and consider treatment for SUDs or for people who have gotten sober but benefit from the continued support of peers, as recovery is a lifelong journey.

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Online Support Groups

People with health or transportation limitations can now access support groups that they couldn’t before thanks to the rise of online options. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), historically an in-person group, now offers in-person and virtual groups nationwide. The benefits of online support groups include more flexible schedules and an increased selection of available programs. While it is a personal preference as to which type of group people prefer, both options make it easier than ever to access support.

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Do Alcohol Support Groups Work?

Research has shown positive outcomes for those participating in peer support groups, as ongoing engagement in peer support groups can be a key predictor of sustained recovery. Studies indicate that peer support services for people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction increase treatment retention, improve social relationships, and reduce the risk of relapse.

Support groups help people realize they are not alone as they navigate treatment and recovery from addiction. Participating in these groups can be empowering and help people realize it is possible to regain control of their lives and learn different ways to respond to stress or pain. They learn that change is possible because they listen to and learn from others walking the same path.

Types Of Support Groups For Alcohol Addiction

It is important to understand there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment or recovery. Each person has unique needs, and different things work for different people. Luckily, people can choose from various support groups to find the type of support that resonates with them and aligns with their specific values and goals.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous operates under the premise that people require the help and support of a higher power to overcome alcohol addiction. In AA, recovery is defined for everyone as complete abstinence, and they count the days since one’s last drink. Although not considered a religious organization, Christian ideologies are incorporated into the AA 12-step program.

SMART™ Recovery

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART™) is an option for recovery that focuses on changing thought patterns and subsequent behaviors to be more aligned with one’s values and priorities. SMART™ Recovery supports the use of medication-assisted treatment if needed. There is an emphasis on self-reliance and learning new skills.

Women For Sobriety

Women for Sobriety (WFS) recognizes the unique needs that many women have while overcoming addiction to alcohol and other drugs. WFS is an abstinence-based, self-help program. Their New Life Program helps women overcome feelings of shame and guilt often associated with addiction. It is an organization of women for women that focuses on emotional and spiritual growth, self-esteem, and healthy lifestyle habits. It utilizes 13 Acceptance Statements for personal development.

Al-Anon

Al-Anon is a support group for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. Al-Anon helps families and friends of people with AUD feel less alone and learn how to set healthy boundaries. Family and friends of people with AUD must live their lives and learn how to manage their emotions and reactions. When families change the way they show up for themselves and their loved ones, it can be a catalyst for their loved ones to change as well.

Find Treatment For Alcohol Addiction

The process of finding a support group can be as simple as doing a quick internet search. There are many groups available, both online and in-person, that can provide you with life-long support on your recovery journey.

However, if you feel that you are struggling with a current addiction to alcohol, more comprehensive support and treatment may be necessary. Contact a treatment provider today to explore your rehab options and take back your life from alcohol addiction.