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Support Groups for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery

Sometimes travelers even need a little help.

For people undergoing recovery from mental health illness or addiction, support is essential in every phase of the recovery process. This includes therapeutic support from healthcare professionals and specialists, as well as emotional and moral support from family, friends, communities, and other peers in recovery.

One of the primary benefits of support groups and group therapy is the communal aspect of therapeutic thought processing. In addiction and with many mental health disorders, isolation is a common behavior that exacerbates the progression of mental symptoms. 

When people in recovery have more interpersonal engagement and social interaction, they naturally isolate themselves less and become more connected with themselves and to others. Connection is key to recovery and sustaining mental health balance. 

Online or in person, there are various support groups for people of all different ages, cultures, sexual identities, and diverse backgrounds, in different stages of recovery. 

12-Step Meetings for Addiction Recovery

12-step meetings are some of the most widely attended support groups for people overcoming alcohol and drug use disorders. While it was originally designed for people with alcohol use disorders, the same program can be applied to other chemical addictions, including all substances that have abuse potential. 

Alcoholics Anonymous or AA is one of the original 12-step recovery programs, and it is an internationally recognized mutual support program and global organization. AA is an anonymous program, meaning it promotes respect for the confidentiality of all members. It is also free to join and inclusive of all individuals who respect the guidelines and philosophy of the program. 

Other 12-step programs that focus on substance abuse include:

  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Chemical Dependent Anonymous
  • Pills Anonymous
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous
  • Marijuana Anonymous

12-Step Recovery Support Groups for Mental Health

There are also meetings and support groups for behavioral addictions and other mental health issues that people are in recovery for and need ongoing support from friends and peers in their communities. 

A diverse range of support groups is available at all hours of the day for people with dependency issues such as sex addiction, love addiction, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and any combination of co-occurring disorders. 

Some of these support groups include the following:

  • Love Addicts Anonymous
  • Sexaholics Anonymous
  • Codependency Anonymous
  • Sexual Compulsives Anonymous
  • Overeaters Anonymous
  • Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous
  • Social Anxiety And Phobics Anonymous
  • Depressed Anonymous
  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • Workaholics Anonymous

Similar to AA, support groups that follow the 12-step philosophy naturally bring people with similar problems together. By meeting once a week or as often as once a day, they can talk about their challenges and relate to one another’s stories and dilemmas. It serves as an open channel of communication for feedback, support, compassion, and empathy, without fear of judgment or criticism. 

Support Groups for Families

For family members and loved ones of people who are in recovery from a mental health or substance use disorder, there are also support groups for them to meet regularly and share their experiences in a safe setting. Al-anon groups are some of the most well-known and widely attended support groups for families and loved ones.

Family recovery and support groups include:

  • Adult Children of Alcoholics
  • Al-Anon
  • Al-Ateen
  • Codependents Anonymous
  • Families Anonymous
  • Nar-Anon
  • Recovering Couples Anonymous

Other Recovery Programs and Support Groups

For those who prefer an alternative to 12-step recovery, other programs are well-established and have mutual support groups for members to participate in, or simply visit if they are interested and curious. 

SMART Recovery has become an increasingly popular program in 23 countries for people in mental health and addiction recovery. SMART Recovery International supports a global community of support groups that are based on a 4-point program, their equivalent of the 12 steps. 

The 4-point program of SMART Recovery entails developing and sustaining motivation, coping with urges and cravings, managing triggers, feelings, and behaviors, and maintaining balance. The program focuses on behavior instead of substances, with evidence-based recovery tools and strategies, and facilitated weekly meetings. 


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