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There are a variety of different types of peer support groups available. Most involve attending a group face-to-face or online, sharing and listening to other peoples’ experiences of alcohol and other drug use, coping and recovery. Most are free and not run by professionals. Most groups are open to anyone but some groups run closed meetings that are only open to group members or clients of a particular alcohol and other drug treatment service.
The main peer support groups include:
12 Step Programs
The 12 step method is a widely used spiritual (but not specifically religious) pathway to recovery. Many different groups follow the 12 steps process, including:
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) supports people in their recovery from alcohol problems. AA is open to anyone who wants to stop drinking alcohol.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) supports the recovery of people with problematic drug use. NA is open to anyone who wants to stop using drugs of any kind.
Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) supports people affected by crystal methamphetamine (e.g. Ice) use. CMA is open to anyone who wants to stop using crystal methamphetamine.
Al-Anon uses the 12 steps to help families and friends overcome hardships associated with living with someone who is affected by alcohol. Al-Anon supports teenagers whose parent or another family member is affected by problem drinking through its Alateen support groups.
Nar-Anon uses supports people whose family or friends are affected by drugs of any kind.
SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) Recovery
SMART Recovery is a strengths-based peer support program that enables participants to understand and change the behaviours that are of concern to them, including but not limited to alcohol and other drug use. It is facilitated by trained peers and professionals and is practical and solution-focused. SMART recognises that while recovery is possible, some people just want to be healthier and minimise harm from their substance use.
The New Life Program supports people who want to recover from alcohol and/or other drug problems. A qualified facilitator runs gender-specific groups for women or men. The group philosophy is that positive thoughts determine positive actions and the program provides guidelines for a new way of life.
Family Peer Support Groups
Family peer support groups and programs run through organisations such as the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre assist families and friends to recover from the impacts associated with somebody’s alcohol and other drug use.
Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services’ Peer Support Groups
A number of alcohol and other drug treatment services also run or host peer support groups. These may differ in emphasis. You can search for an appropriate group on this website.