Addiction support groups

Learn about addiction support groups to help others in recovery. AA, NA SMART Recovery are the most commonly known and accessible mutual aid or peer support groups. A mutual aid group is any group whose members run meetings to offer support for those attending. The most high profile and well known peer support group is, ironically, AA or Alcoholics Anonymous which organises groups throughout the world on a daily basis.


The groups run every day, at different times and are available internationally. They are very structured and are free to access. They focus on the use of alcohol. NA or Narcotics Anonymous is run on similar lines and is less specific about what you are addicted to citing only drugs. They view addiction as a disease and  use a 12 Step approach to recovery.

SMART Recovery

Smart Recovery is also free to access, is internationally available, but not as widespread as NA or AA. The groups themselves are less prescriptive about how an addict should see their addiction, It actively discourages attendees to describe themselves as addicts, because it's focus is solely on the behaviour and once people behave differently they will beat be able to live totally addiction free. The SMART support network offers approaches but does not direct attendees to adopt some or all of these approaches.

All peer support groups are run and organised by their members, made up of people in different stages of recovery from their addiction

A problem shared...

All mutual aid groups work to progress the recovery of their members by encouraging people to talk about their addiction histories or “shares”, in a safe and confidential manner, which allow the members to learn to accept their own histories. A common experience amongst addicts is limited social networks and so these meetings help to grow the support network of the attendees and aid the rebuilding of their lives now they are no longer engaging in their addictive behaviour.


Groups can be of various sizes depending on how well established a particular group is, it’s location, the day and time that it runs and external factors such as the time of year, the weather and many other factors.

Groups can be as little as two members and rise to any number but rarely above thirty as they fail to be effective beyond this number. Different addiction support groups work for different people and even groups run by the same organisation are often very different, so one AA group may be very different to another due to the differing mix of members and “shares”.

Attend an open group

Some groups are “open” which means any member of the public can attend to find out more about the service. By attending one of these meetings and getting informed about their ethos and structure, supporting those in recovery will be easier, as excuses for not accessing peer support will be harder to offer. For details contact the mutual aid groups on the internet.

If mobility is an issue or there is geographical isolation groups also run online and via Skype, again check internet for details.

Check out local addiction support groups

AA, NA and Smart Recovery are not the only addiction support groups or forms of peer support group for recovery. There are local, unique support groups, groups of recoverees who play sports, gender specific groups, support groups that are social groups that meet to share a common interest like music, running or art, all of which offer support and lifestyle growth as part of their recovery journey.

Contact local addiction services or one of the main mutual aid groups who will offer guidance on how you can best support the person experiencing addictive behaviours in your life.

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