How Can I Find a Support Group Meeting Near Me?

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Participating in a support group, along with other medical and professional alcohol and drug treatment programs, can offer many benefits. A support group may help you recover by offering social support, helping you develop recovery coping skills, enhancing your motivation, reducing depressive symptoms, and increasing your psychological well-being.

This article discusses the purpose and benefits of a support group and what you can expect. It also covers where to look for different support groups based on your needs.

What Is a Support Group?

There are common misconceptions about support groups—including about what they can and cannot do. A support group can be defined as a group of people who share concerns or experiences. These groups meet regularly in order to provide each other with advice, comfort, and encouragement.

While support groups can be important in the recovery process, they are not meant to provide treatment. Instead, their focus is on providing peer support, allowing members to share their stories, celebrate each other's successes, and talk about coping strategies that may help.

Family and friends are still an important source of support for people in recovery, but they aren't always able to understand what the person might be going through. Support groups help fill in an important gap in social support by providing the opportunity to talk to people who have been in the same situation and may be better able to empathize and offer tips coming from a lived experience.

Recap

Support groups can offer inspiration and strength. They are not meant to provide or replace treatment, but they can help complement professional treatment during your recovery.

What to Expect

If you or a family member is dealing with an addiction or mental health disorder, a support group may be the ideal place for them to feel less isolated and to learn from others with similar problems and shared experiences.

Mutual support groups often begin by asking members to introduce themselves or they may start by asking a member of the group to volunteer to share something with the group.

If you are anxious about your first meetings with your support group, you might find it helpful to ask a family member or friend to attend with you. Some important things to remember:

  • Respect the confidentiality of other members of the group. People may share powerful stories and difficult experiences. It is important to respect their privacy and keep the information you hear between you and the rest of the group.
  • Don't feel pressured to participate. You're often not required to talk in a support group—you can share as little or as much as you'd like—so you'll be able to observe the group before deciding if it's the right one for you. It's important for you to be comfortable with the group so you can eventually open up and get to know your peers.
  • Ask questions. If there is something you don't understand or if there is some process specific to the group that isn't clear, don't be afraid to ask. The others in your support group can provide helpful information that can help you feel stronger and more empowered on your path to recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental health condition, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

How to Join a Support Group

For most support groups, all that is required to join is a desire to begin recovery. Most people join a support group by simply walking in the door of a meeting near them. No invitation is required and there are no dues or fees. For members, there is often a voluntary collection.

That said, there are "open" meetings for members and non-members as well as closed meetings for members and prospective members only. Depending on the type of meeting, you might come across some of the following codes that indicate a more exclusive support group or additional services offered:

  • (ASL) American Sign Language
  • (BS) Book study
  • (CF) Child-friendly
  • (D) Discussion
  • (G) Gay/lesbian
  • (M) Men only
  • (P) Participation
  • (SS) Step study
  • (W) Women only
  • (WA) Wheelchair access

How to Find the Right Group for You

Your primary care physician or mental health professional is often the best place to start when looking for a local support group. You can also search for a local meeting via the websites of the various support groups.

Apps for Finding Meetings

Some organizations have apps you can use to find meetings. Some apps that allow people to find meetings in their area include:

You can still find a meeting the old-school way by looking up a phone number in the white pages of the local telephone book or online. 

Some databases are detailed and allow you to see which meetings are for newcomers or are wheelchair accessible, non-smoking, or LGBTQ+-friendly, among other characteristics. Other pages are less detailed and may only have phone numbers or listings for you to contact the meeting organizers.

The following is a list of official mutual support group websites and their meeting listings. If you cannot locate a face-to-face (in-person) meeting near you, there are many online meetings available.

Changes Due to COVID-19

Many organizations have put their in-person meetings on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead offering virtual meetings, phone calls, and emails. Contact organizers to get the most updated information on offerings and locations.

Alcohol, Drug, Prescription Medication Misuse

These groups include 12-step groups and those with other philosophies, as noted:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous: Search for the telephone numbers of AA Central Offices and Intergroups by zip code or state. The site does not give you locations of local meetings, but the Intergroup local sites have that information. You can find meetings around the world, which can be very useful when traveling.
  • Celebrate Recovery: A Christ-centered, 12-step recovery program for "anyone struggling with hurt, pain, or addiction of any kind." The group offers Zoom as well as Facebook Live meetings.
  • Chemical Dependent Anonymous: Find a CD meeting by searching by state. It's a 12-step program supporting "abstinence from all mood-changing and mind-altering chemicals, including street-type drugs, alcohol, and unnecessary medication."
  • Cocaine Anonymous: A 12-step program for cocaine, alcohol, and other mind-altering substances.
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous: Search for CMA meetings by zip code and distance. They are a 12-step program.
  • Dual Recovery Anonymous: A 12-step program for those who have a psychiatric disorder and a substance use problem.
  • Life Ring Secular Recovery: Search for a Life Ring meeting for drug or alcohol recovery by location or join an online meeting. The Life Ring philosophy differs from the 12-step programs in that it does not require you to rely on a higher power but believes in supporting your ability to strengthen your sobriety and weaken your addiction.
  • Marijuana Anonymous: Search a list of in-person and online meetings by location. There are also apps for iOS, Android, and Windows that can be used to search for meetings. It is a 12-step program.
  • Moderation Management: See a list and map of meetings around the world or join in telephone meetings. Moderation Management supports responsible drinking rather than a philosophy of total abstinence.
  • Narcotics Anonymous: Search the meeting database by location. You can also download an NA Meeting Search app for iOS or Android.
  • Pills Anonymous: A 12-step program with meetings around the world.
  • SMART Recovery: Search the SMART recovery meeting database by country or state. SMART is not a 12-step program, but a self-help addiction recovery program for substance and alcohol use.
  • Women for Sobriety: An abstinence-based group for women facing drug or alcohol addiction, WFS offers in-person meetings as well as video conferencing meetings and an online support forum.

Sex Addiction, Disordered Relationships, and Abuse

Support groups for sex addiction, disordered relationships, and abuse include:

  • Love Addicts Anonymous: A 12-step program for those who have "distorted thoughts, feelings, and behavior when it comes to love, fantasies, and relationships."
  • Sexaholics Anonymous: A 12-step program for those who want to "stop lusting and become sexually sober."
  • Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous: Find a meeting by searching by state or province. This is a 12-step program for those with "an addictive compulsion to engage in or avoid sex, love, or emotional attachment."
  • Sexual Compulsives Anonymous: A list of International SCA meetings in-person and online. This is a 12-step program.
  • Sexual Recovery Anonymous: A 12-step group for those who desire to stop compulsive sexual behavior.
  • Survivors of Incest Anonymous: A 12-step program for those who are over age 18 who were sexually abused as a child.

Disordered Eating and Food-Related Problems

Support groups for problematic food-related behavior include:

Emotional and Mental Health Recovery

Support groups for emotional and mental health recovery include:

Financial and Acquisition Problem Behavior

Support groups for financial and acquisition problem behavior include:

  • Debtors Anonymous: 12-step program for compulsive debtors.
  • Gamblers Anonymous: A group to support recovery from problem gambling and are guided by 12-step principles.
  • Spenders Anonymous: A 12-step program for those who want to recover from compulsive spending and taking on debt.
  • Workaholics Anonymous: WA meetings include phone meetings, online meetings, or in-person meetings in the United States or internationally. This is a 12-step program for those who are compulsive about work.

For Families and Codependents

These meetings are for those who have relatives and friends with addictions and problem behaviors. In addition to these groups, there are often links to family recovery groups for specific addictions or behaviors on the sites for the programs dedicated to them.

  • Adult Children of Alcoholics: Find an ACA meeting by location search. They also have online meetings and phone meetings.
  • Alanon and Alateen: Search for an Al-Anon Family Group meeting by location in the United States and Canada. You can also use the site to find online meetings, international meetings, or phone meetings.
  • Codependents Anonymous: A 12-step program for recovery from unhealthy relationships.
  • Families Anonymous: Get a PDF file of FA meetings by state. This is a 12-step program for those who have a family member with an addiction or problem behavior.
  • Nar-Anon: A 12-step group for friends and families of people with substance use disorders.
  • Recovering Couples Anonymous: A 12-step group for couples who want to restore and maintain their relationship in recovery.

A Word From Verywell

Remember that support groups are what you make of them. If you are willing to be open and honest and a good listener who supports fellow members, you will get a lot out of your group, including hope and motivation for a healthier you.

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