What are the Common Support Groups for Narcotic Addiction?

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Whether you are just starting your path to sobriety or you’ve completed inpatient rehab treatment and need continued support, joining a recovery support group for narcotic addiction can help you stay sober.1 From online support groups to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, there are many available options.

In this Article:

What Is a Narcotics Recovery Support Group?

A recovery support group for opioid addiction or other narcotic addictions is a place where you can share your journey with people who have been through similar experiences. Research shows that adding peer support to your treatment plan can help you avoid relapses during your recovery.1

In a peer support group, you give and receive nonprofessional and nonclinical help from those in similar circumstances to your own. In recovery support groups, people at any stage of addiction recovery come together to share knowledge, discuss past and current experiences, and work through effective coping strategies while creating an understanding environment.1

What Treatment Should I Consider Before or After Joining a Recovery Support Group?

If you’re beginning treatment for heroin or another opioid addiction, medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone can help reduce your cravings for illicit drug use.2

Attending support group meetings will help you stay sober.

Attending recovery support group meetings will provide peer support and accountability to help you stay sober.

These medications may be more effective at minimizing your struggles with substance misuse when combined with other types of treatment. These include:2

  • Counseling
  • Behavioral therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Attending a recovery support group

After you’ve completed your initial treatment, your recovery journey is not complete. Achieving sobriety is only the beginning of addiction treatment. For many people with substance use disorders, exploring a continuum of care produces better recovery outcomes. That means stepping up or down the intensity of your treatment, depending on your needs.3

For that reason, you may wish to explore a combination of treatment options and support groups for narcotic addiction. With more available options, you’re likely to find the treatment combination that helps you stay sober.2

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Why Attend In-Person vs. Online Support Groups?

Recovery support groups can help you avoid relapsing into narcotics misuse. When you’re looking for a recovery support group, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of organizations. You can also decide whether you wish to attend in-person meetings or prefer to join an online support group.

While there is concrete evidence that peer support groups can help you overcome narcotic addiction, less is known about the relatively new development of online support groups. However, because of its convenience, this form of recovery support group may be more accessible to many.

Today, approximately 28% of all U.S. internet users have accessed an internet support group.4 Whether in-person or online, peer support can help you start and stick with your recovery journey.5 By exploring several common narcotic addiction support groups, you can decide which one would best suit your needs.

What Recovery Support Groups Are Available?

Narcotics Anonymous

Founded in 1953, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a global recovery support group with chapters and meetings in 146 countries. Much like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), NA members work through a 12-step program to help them get and stay clean.6

NA sees group members as “recovering individuals who meet regularly to help each other stay clean” in a program “of complete abstinence from all drugs.”7

Anyone who wants to stop using narcotics or opioids can join NA. There is no cost to join, and new members are considered “the most important person at any meeting because we can only keep what we have by giving it away.”7 When you join NA, you’re encouraged to remain a member for as long as you can, since the group’s philosophy states that those “who keep coming to our meetings regularly stay clean.”7

If NA sounds like a good choice for you, the group holds in-person and Virtual NA meetings.

SMART Recovery

The SMART Recovery program offers online and face-to-face support. It is not a 12-step program. Instead, it helps people on their path to sobriety through a signature four-point recovery program, providing recovery tools and techniques in the following areas: 9

  1. Building and maintaining motivation
  2. Coping with urges
  3. Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  4. Living a balanced life

Unless noted as private or specialized, all SMART Recovery meetings are free and open to the public. However, you’ll have the option to donate to the organization during in-person meetings.8 Online meetings are also free, but you will need to preregister on the SMART Recovery message board.9

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Women for Sobriety

As the name suggests, this recovery support group limits membership to women. Women for Sobriety’s New Life Program—based on 13 Acceptance Statements—can help you find sustainable sobriety by changing the way you think.10

In addition to in-person meetings, phone support, and online support forums, Women for Sobriety encourages members to wake up 15 minutes early each morning to review the 13 Acceptance Statements.11

Then, you’re encouraged to use one statement each day, reviewing how that mindset impacted your thoughts and your resultant actions at the end of the day.10

For that reason, you must be prepared to use the program consciously every day, even on days when you don’t attend meetings. The program’s goal is to make your recovery a journey of personal discovery that will help you build a more fulfilling life.11

LifeRing Secular Recovery

Like NA, LifeRing offers members the chance to access anonymous peer support. But it’s not a 12-step program. Rather, LifeRing Secular Recovery operates on the 3-S philosophy: Sobriety, Secularity, and Self-Help.11

Instead of offering one distinct program, LifeRing helps you explore what will keep you personally from using drugs. They invite you to in-person or virtual support meetings to discuss what is or isn’t working in your recovery journey and to enjoy peer support and guidance to help you stay sober.11

Because LifeRing doesn’t subscribe to specific steps, the program encourages attendance at other recovery support groups such as NA, if that helps you maintain sobriety.12

LifeRing does not mandate anonymity among its members, but you also won’t be forced to share identifying information with your peers. You may also attend LifeRing if you have current religious affiliations. The group’s philosophy of secularity simply means they don’t make religious connections part of your recovery journey—they don’t discourage members from finding personally meaningful religious experiences.12

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a network of recovery support groups aligned with the principles of Save OurSelves International. Anyone who needs help getting or staying sober is welcome to join. There is no set SOS recovery program. Rather, meetings are meant to promote sobriety in a safe, non-religious setting.12

As such, SOS approaches addiction from a scientific perspective. While some members view SOS meetings as an alternative to 12-step programs—many of which involve connecting with a higher power, traditionally viewed as a religious deity—SOS does not discourage members from attending its meetings in conjunction with other recovery support groups.12

If you need to find treatment for opioid addiction or other narcotic addiction, we’re here to assist you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call (800) 407-7195(Who Answers?) today and speak to a specialist who can answer your treatment questions.

References

  1. Tracy, K., & Wallace, S. P. (2016). Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 7, 143-154.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of effective treatment. Principles of drug addiction treatment: a research-based guide (Third Edition).
  3. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Chapter 3. Intensive Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care. Substance abuse: clinical Issues in intensive outpatient treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 47.
  4. Griffiths, K. M., Mackinnon, A. J., Crisp, D. A., Christensen, H., Bennett, K., & Farrer, L. (2012). The effectiveness of an online support group for members of the community with depression: a randomised controlled trial. PLoS One, 7(12),
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Peers supporting recovery from substance use disorders.
  6. Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (1966). How it works.
  7. Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (1966). What is the Narcotics Anonymous program?
  8. SMART Recovery. About SMART Recovery® Local Meetings.
  9. SMART Recovery. Introduction to SMART Recovery.
  10. Women for Sobriety. New Life Program.
  11. LifeRing Secular Recovery. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
  12. Secular Organizations for Sobriety. (2021). Secular Organizations for Sobriety / “Save OurSelves”.

the Take-Away

Research shows that participation in a recovery support group can help you avoid relapses during your path to recovery.