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Long-term Recovery Support

For someone who has been involved in treatment, it can be challenging to establish a routine that is free from alcohol or other substance use and away from the situations and social networks that used to support their drinking.

Participating in a mutual support group can reinforce and extend the benefits of professional treatment and provide much-needed social support over the long term.

There are several groups to consider:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)—the most common mutual help group, with meetings in most communities and online. Meetings involve participants sharing their personal histories with drinking and recovery, and encourage progress along “12 steps” that have a strong spiritual component. Because group dynamics can vary from meeting to meeting, people often visit several meetings before they find one where they feel comfortable. Visit Alcoholics Anonymous (www.aa.org) to learn more and find a meeting nearby.
  • LifeRing—a secular (nonreligious) peer support network supporting abstinence from alcohol and other drugs. Visit LifeRing (http://lifering.org) to learn more and to find an in-person or online meeting.
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety—an alternative to spiritual support groups, this is a network of local and online groups dedicated to helping people achieve and maintain sobriety. Visit Secular Organizations for Sobriety (http://www.sossobriety.org) to learn more.
  • SMART Recovery—a research-based support program that focuses on empowering members to build four sets of skills: motivation to abstain, coping with urges, problem solving, and lifestyle balance. Visit SMART Recovery (www.smartrecovery.org) to learn more and find an in-person or online meeting.
  • Women for Sobriety—a self-help program designed by and for women, focusing on emotional and spiritual growth. Visit Women for Sobriety (http://womenforsobriety.org) to learn more and find a meeting or online message board.

In addition to support groups, people in recovery should also maintain a connection with their treatment counselor. While mutual help groups are an excellent source of support and encouragement, they are usually not run by professional clinicians. Some issues may require the help of a trained health professional.