Addiction Recap and Why Meetings Work
Addiction is a chronic but treatable disease. The most successful way to treat substance addiction is to enter a drug or alcohol abuse rehab program.
Most treatment facilities utilize a variety of therapies, including group therapy. Group therapy helps create a support system for a newly sober person. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that when used alongside a treatment program, group therapy helps to support recovering addicts to stay sober.
What Are Recovery Meetings?
Recovery meetings are designed not just for those currently in treatment but also for those who have completed treatment as part of their continuing aftercare program.
Also known as peer-based support groups, recovery meetings are traditionally free and led by a trained facilitator. These meetings aim to develop or continue curating a support system to help those in attendance maintain sobriety.
Recovery meetings are available for both alcohol addiction and drug addiction. Recovering addicts can find a generalized meeting that covers multiple types of addictions, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, or they can find more specialized groups, such as Cocaine Anonymous and Crystal Meth Anonymous.
People struggling with behavioral addictions can also find meetings that don’t focus on substance use disorders. Groups such as Overeaters Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous provide the same support and accountability as AA or NA meetings but focus on specific behavioral addictions instead.
Types of Recovery Meetings
There are three main categories of addiction recovery meetings. They include:
- Twelve-step meetings
- Secular recovery meetings (non-12-step)
- Religious recovery meetings
Finding 12-Step Meetings
Twelve-step recovery meetings are the world’s most widely known type of addiction recovery support group. The two most popular 12-step groups are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
Twelve-step meetings are typically peer-led, and participants in the meeting take turns sharing, although it is not required. These 12-step programs usually have a main text or book as their reference guide. In AA, it is known as The Big Book and serves as the primary guide for people in the program.
While considered secular, 12-step meetings focus on a “higher power,” which can be a deity or a concept determined by each attendee.
Many 12-step meetings are group-specific (women only, men only, LGBTQ+ only, and a sense of belonging) to promote comfort and a sense of belonging.) Some meetings are open to outside attendees, such as friends and loved ones of addicts, while other sessions are “closed,” meaning that only recovering addicts can attend.
12-Step Support for Loved Ones
Alcoholics Anonymous has additional programs available for the family and loved ones of alcoholics or drug addicts. Most commonly, Al-Anon and Alateen provide resources and support for both adults and teens who have a loved one in their lives with a drinking or drug problem.
Finding Non-12-Step Meetings
While 12-step meetings are the most widely known type of recovery support group, the concept is not for everyone. For those people, secular non-12-step meetings are another great option.
While 12-step groups emphasize in-person meetings, non-12-step groups are much more open to online meetings, making these recovery groups popular—especially over the past few years.
The most popular secular non-12-step group is SMART Recovery. SMART Recovery focuses on motivational and cognitive-behavioral principles to help people get and remain sober.
Other popular secular non-12-step groups include:
Finding Religious Recovery Meetings
While 12-step and non-12-step groups are largely non-denominational, some recovery groups lean into a person’s religious beliefs and upbringing. The largest and most well-known of these religious-based support groups is Celebrate Recovery, which is a Christian-based organization.
Other popular religious-based addiction recovery groups include:
- Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons, and Significant Others (JACS)
- Millati Islami
- Buddhist Recovery
Benefits of Recovery Meetings
The most significant benefit of attending addiction support group meetings is its support system. Recovery treatment teaches patients to surround themselves with solid support systems. It is also essential to be around people who can relate to some of the unique challenges of recovery.
When you attend an addiction recovery meeting, most of the other people in attendance are also in recovery. Not only do they know what you are going through, but they can also help you navigate any challenges you may be facing because chances are they have experienced something similar.
Who Should Attend Recovery Meetings?
People struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse who want to quit should join a recovery meeting program. However, recovery meetings don’t take the place of addiction treatment programs. These meetings help people stop drinking or abusing drugs, but they do not provide actual addiction treatment services.
Recovery meetings can be an excellent tool for individuals with a minor substance abuse problem, or they can be great supplementary tools for people already enrolled at an addiction treatment center. Many recovery programs include recovery meetings as part of their curriculum, and when treatment ends, recovering addicts can continue attending recovery meetings as part of their aftercare plan.
How to Find a Meeting in Your Area
Whether you are home or traveling, chances are there is an addiction support group meeting happening somewhere near you right now. To find the meeting closest to you, click on the links below to access each organization’s “meeting locator.”
You can also reach out to local places of worship and community centers for meeting times.
Start Your Addiction Recovery Journey
While recovery support groups are an excellent tool for continued sobriety, these groups can’t take the place of addiction treatment.
Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or visit their online program locator to find addiction treatment options in your area.
You can also speak with your doctor or healthcare provider about addiction treatment options available in your area.
How do I find an AA Zoom meeting?
If you want to attend an AA meeting virtually via Zoom, you can find the list of those meetings on the AA website.
Where can I find an AA meeting?
You can find the closest AA meeting by visiting their website to view the times and locations of meetings in your area. AA also has a free app where you can search for local meetings.
Are there meetings for family members of addicts?
In addition to attending “open” meetings, family members of addicts can also participate in Alanon meetings. Alanon is a recovery support group specifically designed for family members and loved ones of addicts.
Similarly, Alateen is a support group for teenagers with a loved one who is an addict.