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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on September 12, 2023
6 min read

Alcohol Support Groups & Aftercare Programs

Alcohol addiction is a complex disorder that affects brain circuitry. Also called alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism, the condition can alter your:

  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Impulse control
  • Memory formation 

These and other issues are why it's challenging to overcome alcohol addiction alone. For that reason, there are a variety of alcohol addiction support groups available.

Read on to learn more about how these support groups can support you or your loved one's addiction recovery.

Common Types of Alcohol Support Groups

There are various strategies and methods to treat and even cure alcohol addiction. These include engaging in support groups.

Alcohol addiction support groups come in different formats, which may include:

  • A few people meeting in an alcohol rehab facility
  • A small group that gathers at a community center 
  • A vast organization with meetings all over the world

Diversity and Accessibility of Support Groups

There are support groups which focus on different groups of people, such as:

  • Only men or women 
  • Those of a particular religion
  • People of a certain age
  • Groups with a co-existing mental health disorder

Membership in alcohol addiction support groups is usually free. They're also anonymous or confidential. 

You can join independently or as part of your treatment plan. Meetings occur in convenient settings, flexible times, and various formats. 


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The Most Popular Alcohol Support Groups

Below are some of the most popular alcohol support groups:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is one of the world's most popular recovery support groups. Membership is open to everyone. AA:

  • Practices the 12-step format that many other support groups follow
  • Highlights spiritual principles, including acknowledging a higher power's ability to guide and restore you
  • Advocates giving yourself to a higher power
  • Encourages admitting you don’t have control over alcohol
  • Helps you make amends with those you harmed with your alcoholism
  • Accepts members of all religions, genders, races, and ages

Alcoholics Anonymous has 1,967,613 active members spread across 120,455 supportive groups in 181 countries.

Estimated Worldwide A.A. Individual and Group Membership, Alcoholics Anonymous, 2021

Twelve-Step Support Groups

The 12-steps were designed by AA as structured guidelines for people to overcome alcohol addiction. The process gained success, leading to other addiction support groups adopting them.

Although the 12 steps are rooted in spiritual principles, many nonreligious people use and embrace them.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a four-point program. It helps alcohol addicts build motivation and confidence towards abstinence from alcohol. The program also:

  • Allows members to manage cravings, emotions, and behaviors
  • Educates members on how to live a happy and well-balanced life using the SMART recovery method
  • Teaches members how to live positive, nonspiritual lifestyles

Members can join a local group for face-to-face meetings. Virtual support and online sessions are also available.

Women for Sobriety (WFS)

Women for Sobriety is a nonprofit support group that helps women manage addictions like alcohol abuse. The group uses 13 acceptance statements. 

These declarations help women alter self-destructive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to live without alcohol. WFS:

  • Encourages members to start the day and end the night with deep reflection
  • Educate them about coping strategies and stress management techniques
  • Places great emphasis on fostering self-empowerment through positive affirmations

LifeRing Secular Recovery

LifeRing Secular Recovery is a support group sharing practical experiences and sobriety success stories. Their three values are "Sobriety, Secularity, and Self-Help."

LifeRing focuses on transforming despair into hope to combat alcohol abuse. Rather than applying the same steps to everyone, the group embraces the idea that every person heals differently. Participants also join other types of meetings and programs as part of their recovery process.

Moderation Management (MM)

Moderation Management is a recovery program different from many alcohol abuse support groups. This is because it doesn’t expect complete abstinence. Instead, participants can drink alcohol in moderation.

MM works to combat problematic drinking through the Steps of Change treatment program. Their members keep a drinking diary before committing to 30 days of abstinence from alcohol. Afterward, they can reintroduce alcohol use.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

Secular Organizations for Sobriety is a nonprofit group. They encourage members to support each other in their addiction recovery. SOS:

  • Provides in-person and online recovery support groups to people dealing with issues like alcohol abuse
  • Offers free and anonymous membership 
  • Is secular 
  • Isn’t rooted in religious or spiritual practice
  • Is also disconnected from external groups or institutions

Celebrate Recovery (Christian)

Celebrate Recovery is a 12-step program for Christians needing addiction recovery. The addictions that Celebrate Recovery combat include:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug use
  • Sexual addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Depression

Celebrate Recovery also deals with eating disorders, love and relationship problems, anger, and more.

Dual Recovery Anonymous

Dual Recovery Anonymous is another 12-step support group. The group focuses on those who struggle with both alcohol abuse and mental health issues. This is known as a dual diagnosis.

Many people with alcohol addiction have co-occurring mental health issues such as:

These issues make overcoming alcohol use disorder even more difficult.

Besides emphasizing the 12 steps and relapse prevention, Dual Recovery Anonymous encourages members to seek mental health treatment.

The best treatment for co-occurring alcohol addiction and mental health disorders is an integrated approach. This is when the alcohol abuse and the mental health are treated together.

Support Groups for Family Members

There are also support groups created for family members of someone experiencing alcohol addiction.


Al-Anon is a support group for people who have family members battling alcohol addiction.

Addiction can lead to destructive behavior. Partners and children of alcohol addicts often experience the worst of these outbreaks.

Even if they don’t become abusive, watching a loved one suffer from alcohol abuse can be difficult.

Al-Anon allows family members to discuss and share feelings about their experiences. AI-teen engages children, ages 12-17, of alcoholics who may also have a difficult time.


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How Effective are Alcohol Addiction Groups?

Studies show mutual support groups for alcohol addiction lead to a variety of positive outcomes.

Treatment through such programs is linked to the reduced spread of STD's and increased maintenance of sobriety. Participants also exhibit increased feelings of life satisfaction.

Another study found those who took part in Alcoholics Anonymous were twice as likely to abstain from alcohol as non-participants.1


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Benefits of Support Groups for Alcohol Recovery

Support groups give alcohol addicts hope and encouragement to achieve and sustain sobriety. Participants' shared experiences can help make addicted people take responsibility for their recovery.

This helps them develop coping strategies to further their addiction recovery.

Benefits can include:

  • Increased treatment engagement
  • Reduction in risky sexual behaviors
  • More self-reliance
  • Increased likelihood of maintaining sobriety
  • Better (re-)integration into society

Support groups come in different formats, so people can select a treatment program that suits them best.

Actively attending Alcoholics Anonymous makes a person twice as likely to maintain sobriety. 

Alcoholics Anonymous Effectiveness: Faith Meets Science, Journal of Addictive Diseases, 2009.
Updated on September 12, 2023
11 sources cited
Updated on September 12, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Kaskutas, Lee Ann. "Alcoholics anonymous effectiveness: faith meets science." Journal of addictive diseases, 2009.

  2. "The Relevance of Twelve-Step Recovery in 21st Century Addiction Medicine." American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2015.

  3. What Is A.A.?” Alcoholics Anonymous.

  4. "SMART Recovery for individuals with addictions." Smart Recovery.

  5. "About." Women for Sobriety.

  6. "About Us." Lifering Secular Recovery.

  7. "About Moderation Management?" Moderation Management.

  8. "Getting started." Celebrate Recovery.

  9. "What Is Al-Anon and Alateen?" Al-Anon.

  10. Tracy, Kathlene, and Samantha P Wallace. “Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction.” Substance abuse and rehabilitation vol. 7 143-154. 29 Sep. 2016

  11. Dual Recovery Anonymous World Network Inc. “Dual Recovery Anonymous - A 12 Step Fellowship.” Dual Recovery Anonymous - a 12 Step Fellowship.

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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
© 2023 by Treatment Pathway LLC. All rights reserved.
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