12 Step Support Groups
12 Step groups are centered on the teachings of the book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism, also known as The Big Book. The programs are open to everyone and have no requirements or fees to join, aside from the shared desire to get sober. 12 Step groups have a strong focus on spirituality and recognizing a higher power, although how that higher power is defined varies by individual. Examining the past and making amends are also important parts of the program – as are fellowship, working with a sponsor, and respecting each other’s anonymity.
If you are recovering from alcoholism, try Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Alcoholic Anonymous is a fellowship where members help each other stay sober and help those struggling with alcoholism attain sobriety. With over 2 million members worldwide, it is one of the biggest 12 Step-based programs in the world, making meetings easily accessible for those in need.
If you are recovering from drug addiction, try Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals struggling with drug addiction, helping each other to achieve and maintain sobriety. Members are asked to live by the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of NA. Narcotics Anonymous meetings are available in 139 countries.
If you are struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, try Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA)
Dual Recovery Anonymous is a self-help organization for those struggling with both substance abuse and an emotional or psychiatric illness. It focuses on relapse prevention as well as ways to reduce and manage symptoms of emotional or psychiatric illnesses and improve overall mental health.
There are many 12 Step based support groups for those struggling with addiction. Plenty of them focus on specific drugs such as Cocaine Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, and Crystal Meth Anonymous. Know that while all 12 Step programs are based on the same steps and principles, the atmosphere and feel of meetings vary. Try attending different meetings until you find the group that is right for you and your recovery.
Alternatives to 12 Step-Based Recovery:
Just as addiction treatment should be tailored to your specific needs, so should your recovery. And while 12 Step based programs have helped countless people stay sober, they are not for everyone. Whether you are looking for something less spiritual, something more science-based, or something more religion-based, there are several alternative groups that can help keep you grounded in your recovery.
If you are looking for a science-based approach to recovery, try SMART Recovery
SMART Recovery is based on scientific methodologies that focus on changing negative thoughts and behaviors into positive alternatives. It does not require members to believe in a higher power, and while there are no sponsors in SMART Recovery, members are typically willing to help each other when needed. A fundamental difference between SMART Recovery and 12 Step groups is that SMART Recovery offers members the opportunity to “graduate” from the program, meaning that once they have achieved sustainable sobriety, they are considered to have recovered from addiction.
If you are looking for a women-only support group, try Women for Sobriety (WFS)
Women for Sobriety is an abstinence-based support group exclusively for women struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction. Women face different obstacles than men when it comes to addiction, treatment, and recovery. WFS provides women with gender-specific recovery tools and support, focusing on the need for feelings of self-value and self-worth. Meetings are led by certified moderators and are available both in-person and online.
If you are looking for a Christ-centered approach, try Celebrate Recovery
Celebrate Recovery is a 12 Step-based ministry designed to help those who are hurt – whether by addiction, physical or emotional trauma, or mental attitudes – through Christ’s message. Centered around eight biblical principles, participants are encouraged to break free from what is holding them back and live an honest life following Christ. Meetings are offered at thousands of churches worldwide, as well as many community centers.
If you are looking for support without a spiritual or religious influence, try Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
Secular Organizations for Sobriety is a non-profit network of groups that provide recovery tools and assistance to those struggling with addiction. The program is centered around making sobriety each individual’s top priority. While all meetings are based on the same set of literature and materials, each meeting is run independently. Like 12 Step groups, SOS values anonymity and encourages members to support each other.
Whether it is 12 Step-based or one of the many alternatives, a support group can greatly impact your recovery by exposing you to fresh perspectives and allowing you to interact with others facing similar struggles. Remember, addiction is isolating but recovery does not have to be. Reach out and grow your support network.