Alcohol support groups are for people recovering from alcohol use disorder or beginning the recovery process. These groups offer tools and strategies to help motivate people and support recovery.
- Best for online support: Tempest
- Best for personalized steps: SMART Recovery
- Best for those who identify as women: Women for Sobriety
- Best for flexible support: LifeRing Secular Community
- Best for seeking drinking moderation: Moderation Management
- Best for Buddhist principles: Recovery Dharma
- Best for an app: Daybreak
- Best for using a 12-step program: Alcoholics Anonymous
This article discusses what alcohol support groups are, who they may benefit, and what they can offer to those with alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol support groups are places where individuals can receive advice and support for their addiction recovery.
Support groups provide a safe space for individuals to be open and honest about their alcohol use disorder and any challenges they face. These groups can help people form coping skills and strategies that may prevent them from relapsing.
Alcohol support groups are for individuals seeking help in recovering from alcohol use disorder. Healthcare professionals may recommend a support group as part of a treatment plan for addiction recovery.
Experts suggest that self-help groups, such as alcohol support groups, can help with recovery by allowing people to
However, the researchers note that support groups are more likely than other interventions to lead to complete abstinence from alcohol use.
Research suggests that support groups form a social network that can help support abstinence from substance use. However, outside factors, such as a person’s motivation to abstain, can also determine how effective alcohol support groups are.
Below is a selection of alcohol support groups that people may wish to join.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these support groups. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
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Best for online support: Tempest
Tempest combines mindfulness and CBT to help people abstain from drinking alcohol.
People must sign up online and fill out a questionnaire detailing their goals. Then, Tempest offers its Foundations course, which it claims uses evidence-based treatment methods, peer support, and guidance from experts.
The Foundations course includes video lessons from experts that cover how to manage cravings, deal with social anxiety, and set boundaries.
Tempest offers the following features:
- live online and in-person events and workshops
- identity-based groups, such as LGBTQIA+, parents in recovery, and more
- group support calls with a recovery coach moderator
- 24-7 online community support
- daily affirmations
- inspirational recovery stories
- daily tips and insights
- a library of 1000+ recorded lessons
- one-on-one coaching support
Pros and cons
Tempest offers flexibility and always-online access, with on-demand lessons and one-on-one coaching. The organization also offers expert-led techniques for abstaining from alcohol.
However, unlike some support groups, people will need to purchase a membership. While Tempest offers a wide variety of support, some people may prefer to use a free service.
Price: Tempest costs $59 per month or $393 per year. The organization offers a scholarship program for those who cannot pay the membership price.
Best for personalized steps: SMART Recovery
SMART Recovery states that it offers science-based methods to help people abstain from alcohol use. The organization offers in-person and online meetings.
SMART Recovery aims to help people through a four-step plan that includes:
- building and maintaining motivation
- coping with urges
- managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
- living a balanced life
SMART Recovery also offers a CheckUp and Choices app that provides modules on CBT and motivational exercises.
Pros and cons
An advantage of SMART Recovery is that its support group meetings are free to attend in-person and online. The four-step plan the organization offers is flexible, with different options for different circumstances.
However, SMART Recovery may not be suitable for those who have better results when following a more rigid program.
Price: SMART Recovery support group meetings are free to attend. The CheckUp and Choices app costs $79 for three months or $149 for a year of access.
Best for those who identify as women: Women for Sobriety
Women for Sobriety has a program for people who identify as women and are experiencing alcohol use disorder. The New Life Program aims to teach recovery tools focusing on self-esteem and spiritual and emotional growth.
This program encourages people to continue lifelong development through its 13 Acceptance Statements. Women for Sobriety states that it welcomes all expressions of female identity and offers support to members of the LGBTQIA+ community that identify as women.
Women for Sobriety offers peer support and group chats online, in-person meetings, and exercise and meditation classes. The organization also offers annual weekend conferences and nutritional advice.
Pros and cons
Women for Sobriety aims to provide a supportive space for all people who identify as women, and it offers mechanisms for mental and physical recovery from alcohol use disorder.
However, this support group is not available in all states. A person who prefers in-person meetings but lives in a state where Women for Sobriety does not operate may wish to choose a different support group.
Price: In-person meetings are free, but donations are welcome.
Best for flexible support: LifeRing Secular Recovery
LifeRing Secular Recovery states that its principles are sobriety, secularity, and self-help.
The support group welcomes people of all faith or no faith and aims to promote sobriety without religion. LifeRing does not use steps and instead aims to promote self-recovery through peer support. The organization encourages people to go to other support groups and therapy if they wish to do so.
This support group offers in-person and online meetings and forums, tips and coping methods on abstaining from alcohol, and daily inspirational emails.
Pros and cons
LifeRing offers a free and flexible support group and encourages people to attend outside meetings if they wish to do so.
However, LifeRing does not follow a step program. Some people may prefer the structured approach to recovery of a step program.
Price: LifeRing meetings are free to attend, although donations are welcome.
Best for seeking drinking moderation: Moderation Management
Moderation Management aims to teach personal responsibility for choosing and maintaining a recovery path, whether that is abstinence or moderation in drinking.
This support group promotes early self-recognition and offers in-person and online meetings, including video and phone meetings. Moderation Management also has private online communities with volunteer moderators who previously used the groups.
Pros and cons
Moderation Management is a free service that offers meetings for people who are at different stages of their recovery.
However, as this support group also aims to give people the tools to moderate their drinking, Moderation Management may not be as suitable for those who wish to abstain from alcohol entirely.
Price: Moderation Management is free, although donations are welcome.
Best for Buddhist principles: Recovery Dharma
Recovery Dharma offers a recovery approach based on traditional Buddhist practices. However, it is open to people of any or no faith.
This support group aims to give people tools for:
- committing to the intention of abstaining from alcohol
- developing a daily meditation practice
- attending recovery meetings
- learning about the Four Noble Truths
- practicing the Eightfold Path
Recovery Dharma offers reading materials and in-person and online meetings. The support group also offers female-only and nonbinary meetings.
Pros and cons
Recovery Dharma has support groups across the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan. The support group is free to use, and people can choose to go to meetings that only include people of their own gender identity.
However, this support group may not suit certain people, as Recovery Dharma teaches recovery through Buddhist practices.
Price: Recovery Dharma meetings are free.
Best for an app: Daybreak
Daybreak is an Australian company that offers an app to connect people who are recovering from alcohol use disorder. People can use the app as an online support group, a personal diary, and a source of advice.
Pros and cons
This app offers on-the-go support, and people can fill out a diary in-app to manage goals and view their progress.
However, Daybreak does not offer in-person meetings or a more rigid treatment plan. Those looking for a different type of support may wish to try another support group.
Price: Daybreak is free for people who live in Australia. International members can access a 21-day free trial and then pay $12.99 per month or $119.99 per year.
Best for using a 12-step program: Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) uses a 12-step program that aims to help people abstain from alcohol. AA claims that it uses spirituality to provide support, but it does not affiliate itself with any religious denomination.
AA offers in-person and online meetings and international conventions. The organization believes in anonymity and encourages any group of two or more people to call themselves an Alcoholic Anonymous group.
Pros and cons
AA uses a 12-step program that may offer more structured support than some other groups. The organization also offers online and in-person meetings all around the world.
Although AA states that it is not affiliated with any religious denomination, some of the 12-steps are religious in nature, which may make people of different faiths uncomfortable.
Price: AA meetings are free to attend, although donations are welcome.
The following table compares the alcohol support groups in this article.
|Tempest||mindfulness and CBT||in-person and online||starts at $59 per month|
|SMART Recovery||4-step program||in-person and online||starts at $79 per month|
|Women for Sobriety||self-esteem and spiritual and emotional growth||in-person and online||free|
|LifeRing Secular Recovery||peer support||in-person and online||free|
|Moderation Management||choosing and maintaining abstinence and moderation||in-person and online||free|
|Recovery Dharma||traditional Buddhist practices||in-person and online||free|
|Daybreak||peer support and journalling||online||starts at $12.99 per month|
|Alcoholics Anonymous||12-step program||in-person and online||free|
People may wish to consider the following when choosing a support group:
- Philosophy: Support groups may use different philosophies and methods to help people abstain from alcohol use. These could include following a 12-step program or relying on peer support. People should consider which method is most likely to help them abstain from alcohol.
- Faith: Some support groups follow faith doctrines, and a person should consider whether they are comfortable following those doctrines while taking part in the support group.
- Inclusivity: Some support groups offer meetings that are only open to certain gender identities.
- In-person or online: Some support groups offer both in-person and online meetings, whereas others only offer one or the other. A person should consider whether they prefer one form of meeting over another.
- Budget: Most support groups offer free meetings and ask for a donation if a person can afford to give one. However, others charge a monthly or yearly fee.
People should contact a healthcare professional if they are considering treatment for alcohol use disorder. A person may also seek the advice of a doctor if alcohol use disorder is having a negative effect on their life, such as causing emotional distress or affecting physical health. A doctor can advise people on treatment methods and inform them about withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. A person may experience
Healthcare professionals may prescribe medication to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. A person should always keep in close contact with a healthcare professional while they are experiencing alcohol withdrawal.
Below are some frequently asked questions about alcohol support groups.
What organization can a person join if they want to stop drinking?
There are many organizations that a person can join if they want to stop drinking alcohol.
A person may wish to see which support groups offer in-person meetings in their area or investigate different organizations to see which one best meets their requirements.
A healthcare professional may be able to recommend certain organizations in a person’s state of residence.
Are there organizations other than Alcoholics Anonymous?
While Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the most well-known alcohol support groups, there are many other organizations that offer similar support for people who want to stop drinking alcohol.
Is there a nonreligious version of Alcoholics Anonymous?
Alcoholics Anonymous states that it does not affiliate itself with any particular denomination. However, some of its 12 steps do mention faith.
If a person is uncomfortable with this, they can find another support group. Many support groups do not include religion in their methods.
Alcohol support groups offer peer support for those who are recovering from alcohol use disorder. These groups offer different methods, such as 12-step programs, mindfulness techniques, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
A person should always contact a healthcare professional when they are considering stopping alcohol use or if a person’s alcohol use is negatively affecting their daily life and health. A healthcare professional can help treat withdrawal symptoms.