Support Group for Addiction Recovery

Support Groups for Addiction Recovery: How to Find the “Good” Ones

Recovering from addiction is a complex journey that is easier when you have the right support by your side. Support groups become an invaluable resource for many people in recovery, offering a sense of belonging, shared experiences and mutual encouragement.

However, finding the right support group might not be as easy as picking out a group and showing up. Since most groups are independently run, you will find differences in how they are managed. It’s perfectly normal to like some groups more than others. So, if you’re not “feeling” your current group, branch out and find another one! The right group is out there.

Below are some tips on how to locate a support group that suits your needs and makes a positive impact on your recovery. 

Understand the Different Types of Support Groups

There are various types of support groups, each with a different approach to addiction recovery. Some well-known models include:

  • 12-Step Programs. These include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which focus guided principles to help members achieve and maintain sobriety.
  • Non-12-Step Groups. These might focus more on secular, psychological or educational approaches without the spiritual emphasis found in 12-step programs. Examples include SMART Recovery and Secular Organizations for Sobriety.
  • Therapy Groups. These are typically led by professional therapists or counselors, and focus on developing coping strategies and processing emotional experiences.

Determine Your Preferences

Consider what environment makes you feel most comfortable and supported. Some people prefer a group setting that includes professional facilitators, while others might find peer-led groups more relatable. Additionally, consider location, meeting times, and whether the group is open to all genders or gender-specific. It’s important that the meetings fit into your schedule, otherwise, you may be less likely to attend when there’s a conflict. 

Research Local Options

Start by searching online for support groups in your area. Websites of organizations like AA or SMART Recovery have search tools to find local meetings. You can also ask for recommendations from healthcare providers, mental health clinics and local community centers. If you’re participating in an outpatient program, they can also help find a local group. 

Visit Multiple Supprt Groups

It’s often recommended to attend several meetings before deciding which one feels right for you. Each group has its own dynamic and culture, and it might take a few visits to find where you feel most comfortable. Some signs of a “good” group include people laughing and talking beforehand (this shows a sense of camaraderie) and having a greeter (this shows the person attends meetings frequently). 

Evaluate the Group’s Principles

Ensure the group’s philosophy aligns with your recovery goals. Some groups might have religious undertones, which are beneficial for some, but not comfortable for everyone. Likewise, the structure of the meetings—whether they are more open or structured—can influence how well you might connect with the group.

Assess the Group Dynamics

Consider how group members interact. A supportive environment should be non-judgmental and inclusive. Members should respect confidentiality and provide a safe space for everyone to share their experiences and challenges. If you notice that other members look bored when people share, or there is a lot of complaining about probation officers, this is probably not a great sign. Ideally, you want to be with people who are embracing recovery. 

Check for Online and Hybrid Options

If location or mobility is an issue, look for online support groups or hybrid meetings. Virtual meetings can also provide access to support at times that might be more convenient for you. This can be especially helpful to those who can’t drive because of a DUI/DWI or another issue. 

Utilize Trial Periods with Support Groups

Some groups offer trial periods or open sessions for new members. Take advantage of these to gauge how the group fits your needs, without making an immediate commitment. Keep in mind that 12-step meetings like AA and NA are typically open to anyone who wants to join, even those who are not AA members. You can also bring a friend or family member with you! 

Listen to Your Instincts

Ultimately, the right support group should make you feel supported and motivated in your recovery journey. Trust your instincts about the groups you visit—if a group doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to try another. This is about you and your recovery. Whatever group helps you achieve, this will be the “right” fit. 

Commit to Participation 

Once you find a group that feels right, commit to regular participation. Recovery is often more successful with consistent support and active engagement. Some people attend meetings once a week, while others attend them every day. 

Embracing Peer Support in Addiction Recovery 

Finding the right support group is a deeply personal decision, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to explore different options and remain open to various forms of support. With the right group, you can find tremendous help on your journey toward recovery.

Awakenings Treatment Center is an outpatient treatment facility in Agoura Hills, CA. We offer 12-step facilitation to get clients comfortable with the 12-step fellowship. We believe in this program because it has worked for many of us and our clients, but we also recognize that each person is different and there may be better options for you. To learn more about our programs and how we can get you started with completing Steps 1, 2 and 3, contact our admissions team today.