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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
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Updated on October 6, 2023
9 min read

Alcohol Support Groups & Aftercare Programs

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

  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Impulse control
  • Memory formation 

These and other issues make it challenging to overcome alcohol addiction alone. For that reason, there are various alcohol addiction support groups available.

Read on to learn more about how these peer support groups can assist you or your loved one in addiction recovery.

What are the Common Types of Alcohol Support Groups?

There are various strategies and methods to treat and even cure alcohol addiction. You can manage substance use through behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and other procedures. Most of them include engaging in support groups to maintain sobriety during or after the withdrawal period.

Most support groups for alcohol addiction come in different formats, which 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

Membership in support groups for those with a drinking problem or alcohol addiction is usually free. They also accommodate anonymity or keep your personal information confidential. 

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

Diversity and Accessibility of Support Groups

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

  • Support groups with only men or women members
  • Members of a particular religion
  • People of a certain age
  • Groups with a co-existing mental health disorder
  • LGBTQ+ community members

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The Most Popular Alcohol Support Groups

Support groups come in different formats, so you can select a treatment program that suits you best. They also provide resources for people seeking further assistance and guidance with their recovery.

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. AA’s core principles include:

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

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

Twelve-Step Support Groups

The 12 Steps are a set of guidelines for recovery from addiction. They help you understand your powerlessness over alcohol and acknowledge the need to turn to something greater than yourself for help.

AA originally designed the 12 steps as structured guidelines for overcoming alcohol addiction. Since the process gained success in practice, other addiction support groups have adopted these steps.

Many other peer support groups adopt these steps, including:

  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)
  • Marijuana Anonymous (MA)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA)

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

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 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 people struggling with 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.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a four-point program that helps people addicted to alcohol build motivation and confidence toward 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

SMART recovery 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.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a nonprofit group that encourages 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 

SOS is secular and isn’t rooted in religious or spiritual practice. It’s also disconnected from external groups or institutions.

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.

Are There Support Groups for Family Members?

Support groups are also available for family members of someone dealing with alcohol addiction. They offer a safe space to share experiences and helpful strategies for assisting their family members during their difficult times.

Here are support groups for family members you can join:


Addiction can lead to destructive behavior. Unfortunately, partners and children of alcohol-dependent people 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 is a support group for people who have family members battling alcohol addiction. 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 difficulty.


Alateen is a support group for children of alcoholics. It allows teens to talk openly about the difficulty of growing up in an alcoholic family without guilt or shame. The group mainly:

  • Provides coping mechanisms that help these young people through difficult times
  • Teaches them positive life skills
  • Reinforces that none of their difficulties is their fault but the result of their family circumstances

Alateen is an excellent resource for teens struggling with an alcoholic parent or guardian, as it helps them find strength and support in numbers. It can also help them receive emotional support amidst the difficulties of growing up in an alcoholic environment.


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How Effective are Alcohol Addiction Groups?

Mutual support groups for alcohol addiction have yielded various positive outcomes. For one, treatment through these programs has decreased the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

They also lead to improvement in maintaining sobriety. Additionally, participants in these groups often experience increased levels of life satisfaction.

A study at Stanford revealed that abstinence, with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is significantly better by 60% compared to other interventions or no intervention.


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Benefits of Support Groups for Alcohol Recovery

Support groups provide a safe environment for people seeking to overcome alcohol addiction. These groups often serve as a source of motivation, encouragement, and guidance from those who have gone through similar ordeals.

One of the primary benefits of support groups is that members can share their stories and experiences with others. This allows them to bond over common struggles and find comfort in knowing that other people understand what they’re going through.

Joining a support group like AA can:

  • Increase treatment engagement
  • Reduce risky sexual behaviors
  • Promote self-reliance
  • Heighten likelihood of maintaining sobriety
  • Improve (re-)integration into society
  • Provide tips on how to cope with triggers

How to Make Most of Your Support Group Experience

Follow these tips to maximize the benefit you’ll get from an alcohol support group:

  • Give and accept help: Even though it may be uncomfortable initially, giving and receiving support from other members is a significant part of the experience. Everyone has something valuable to contribute, so don’t be afraid to share your story or experiences with others.
  • Set and share goals: You can help motivate yourself and others by setting realistic, achievable goals for your recovery journey. However, don’t be afraid to dream big - it can be inspiring to set ambitious goals with the help of a supportive group.
  • Be honest and open: Honesty is key in recovery, especially in support groups. Opening up and sharing your feelings or experiences can help you realize that others can understand what you’re going through.
  • Ask questions: Ask members about their experiences or how they handle certain situations. It can give you insight into your recovery journey. It's also a great way to gain new perspectives from different group members.
  • Attend regularly: Consistency is vital in recovery. Make sure to attend group meetings regularly to stay on track with your goals and build relationships with other members.
  • Be patient: People need time to open up about their experiences, so be patient when getting the most out of a support group. Also, remember that recovery isn’t an overnight process. Instead, it takes time and dedication. 
  • Maintain sobriety outside of the support group: While sharing your experiences with others in the group is beneficial, it’s still essential to maintain your sobriety outside of the meetings. This includes ensuring that you continue to attend counseling or other treatment programs. Don’t forget to follow up with any aftercare programs that may be recommended. 


Alcohol support groups provide invaluable support for you and your family when dealing with substance use. From providing comfort in a safe, understanding environment to offering helpful advice on managing triggers, they have many benefits to your recovery.

Support groups can help you stay motivated and on track with your sobriety goals. It’s also a great network to maintain sobriety as an aftercare routine. You can choose from various support groups that fit your needs, so reach out and get the help you need today to begin your journey to recovery.

Updated on October 6, 2023
11 sources cited
Updated on October 6, 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. Erickson, M. “Alcoholics Anonymous most effective path to alcohol abstinence.” Stanford Medicine, 2020.

  2. Miller, M. "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." Vancouver Coastal Health.

  5. "About." Women for Sobriety.

  6. "About LifeRing" Lifering Secular Recovery.

  7. "About Us." Moderation Management.

  8. "What is Celebrate Recovery? Your Top 10 Questions Answered!" Therapy for Christians, 2023.

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

  10. Tracy, K., and Wallace, S.P. “Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction.” Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 2016.

  11. Dual Recovery Anonymous - A 12 Step Fellowship.” Dual Recovery Anonymous.

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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.
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