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A Guide To Alcoholism Support Groups

Posted on May 29, 2020

A Guide To Alcoholism Support Groups

Alcoholism refers to the extreme abuse of alcohol on a basis that is uncontrollable and unmanageable. People battling with alcohol addiction find it hard to carry out daily tasks without it. Fortunately, there are a number of alcohol support groups to help you today.

Alcoholism is the end stage of an alcohol use disorder, which begins when a person starts binge-drinking or misusing the substance. Alcoholism, also known as alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder constitutes a lifestyle where an individual cannot stop drinking. Not because they don’t want to – because they can’t.

In the UK, alcohol overdependence has become a common challenge for many citizens. [1] It has also resulted in untold suffering as well as unnecessary deaths in due times.

Understanding Alcoholism

Some of the reason why people fall victims of addiction include:

Relieving stress: Drinking alcohol tranquilizes and opiates the senses, thus creating a relaxed and euphoric feeling. It is also a depressant on the central nervous system which relaxes the muscles and the mind and lowers inhibitions. Frequent consumption creates the desire for more alcohol, which in turn leads to increased tolerance.

Loss of a relative or friend: Grief and bereavement can be traumatic, and can often lead the sufferer to feel depressed or hopeless. In a bid to cope with the loss and ease their feelings, people turn to alcohol for comfort and to numb the pain.

Being lonely: People believe that through drinking, they will create new connections and friends and avoid feelings of grief, isolation, and loneliness.

Being overwhelmed by challenges: Drinking drives away worries and inhibitions that tend to overcome people’s lives.

Continued use of alcohol in any of the above situations may result in addiction, which many people will start struggling with to resume their “normality” in life.

Treating alcohol-related problems has overstrained the health sector as it channels more funds and other resources into controlling alcoholism. With this over-consumption of alcohol among residents, several alcoholism support groups have emerged to help those battling the substance.

These support groups operate to help those addicted, or their loved ones, live with minimal strain as well recover from substance use. Discussed below are some of these alcoholism groups and how they operate to achieve their mission. [2]

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous is a global alcohol support group offering a community-based program to help those struggling with alcohol addiction. The aim is to get sober with the aid of peers, usually through meetings and discussions about problematic drinking behaviours.

Different people come together and share their experiences in fighting addiction. Bill Wilson found the AA self-help group, and along with his therapist, they came up with 12 steps of recovery.

These 12 steps include:

  1. Accepting defeat from alcohol and admitting it was unmanageable in their lives
  2. A power greater than an individual can restore their mental health
  3. We are resolving to turn and commit to God’s care and understanding
  4. Develop morals without fear and avoid all vices
  5. Admit wrong committed against God, oneself, and other people around
  6. Be ready to have God cleanse the bad character instilled in individuals
  7. Humbly plead with God to take away all the shortcomings
  8. Enlist people whom we have wronged and feel sorry and show the desire to reconcile with them
  9. Reconcile with those people, else stop if it will harm them or others
  10. Practice continued personal inventory and promptly admitted our mistakes
  11. Seek God through prayer and meditation. Pray for knowledge of God’s will and power to practice the will
  12. Have spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, carry the message to alcoholics, and practice these ideas in all our affairs

Understanding the 12 steps

These 12 steps have been adopted by other addiction anonymous groups and self-help groups to help people fight their addictive traits. These alcohol support groups offers no requirement s for men and women to join them, other than the desire to abandon drinking. [3]

AA is an independent group that means that any other organisations or institution does not influence them in their operations. They are non-political and do not carry with them any affiliates.

AA is one a network with many groups globally; usually, meetings could be held daily and face-to-face. Virtual support meetings have been launched to help those battling with alcohol use disorder connect with those in recovery. An online guide has also been produced which touches on frequently asked questions on issues of treatment.

People find it hard to admit that they need help as it requires a lot of courage and strength to be able to stand firm. A sense of hope, insight, and strength are among the key benefits of enrolling into these support groups as it helps minimize chances of relapse.

In most instances, members of these groups are always encouraged to seek spiritual awakening as it has proven to be useful to most. It implies that those who have fully recovered from excessive drinking are urged to pass the information and admit their initial condition to those still suffering.

It takes typically twelve stages for someone to be considered to have fully recovered. The majority of people who have completed the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous usually have a feeling of being able to maintain a sober life without drinking.

SMART Recovery Groups

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is a group that applies modern, scientifically proven treatment methods to help people regain from addiction. The alcohol support groups do not only aid people from battling alcoholism.

They also help with other addictive behaviour and activities such as gambling, overspending, sex, and excessive reacting to issues, among others. Currently, the number of patients making an effort to attend has been increasing as you can participate in a meeting from home.

The SMART recovery support group offers techniques based on 4-point programs. These 4 points include:

  • Building and maintaining motivation
  • Learning how to manage urges
  • Managing/handling thoughts, behaviours and feelings
  • Managing a balanced life

For SMART recovery to achieve the 4-point program, different tools and techniques are employed. They include:

  • Analysis of individual’s plans and changing stages
  • Evaluation of decision-making worksheet
  • Managing rational-emotive and cognitive-behaviour
  • Controlling emotions
  • Hierarchy of values
  • Unconditional self-acceptance
  • Rehearsing individual roles and responsibilities

People suffering from over usage of alcohol regularly attend SMART meetings. Most meetings are held face-to-face. However, SMART recovery has an online message board and chat room with 24-hour services to achieve their core aim of self-empowering those struggling with alcohol addiction.

Meetings are always conducted at minimal or no cost at all but rely mostly on both external and internal donations. This is because SMART meetings are often public unless stated otherwise, such as being specific or private purpose.

Alcoholic support group meetings under SMART are, in most instances, led by volunteers. Venues and the facilitators of both the new and the current existing sessions are, in most cases, communicated publicly. Therefore, the general public, especially those under the excessive abuse of alcohol, are notified before the meeting.

Al-Anon Family Groups

It is one of the largest and as well as the oldest among the world’s alcohol support groups meant for friends and families of those under the influence of alcohol-related substances in the UK. The main reason for the creation was to help those affected by the drinking behaviour of their loved ones.

This is because the founders trusted that friends and family members of those struggling with substance addiction are a source of hope and can help solve alcoholism and other relates problems.

Al-Anon groups have their ways of conducting meetings with each group having members ranging between 5 to 25 members. They follow a series-like program which involves:

  • Introduction and short openings
  • Welcoming newcomers
  • Giving newcomers helpful tips
  • Sharing stories of experience, hope, and strengthening each other.
  • Group announcements

To effectively run efficiently, Al-Anon heavily depends on members’ contributions, and on the other hand, it is not affiliated with any religion, political movements, and any other institution. Similarly to Alcohol Anonymous, Al-Anon exercises the similar 12 steps in solving various family-related problems due to alcoholism.

This is because it views heavy drinking of alcohol as the genesis of most disputes and misunderstanding among family and friends. Meetings are held for members to share their experiences.

Moderation Management (MM)

This support group admits that not all people can cope with total abstinence from alcohol. Therefore, they mainly focus on applying techniques that allow people to moderate their drinking habits to controllable levels.

The program’s primary aim is not stopping alcoholism altogether but addressing excessive and problematic drinking as individuals continue with controlled drinking.

This MM program offers an alternative to the religious AA 12-step program that requires members to cease alcohol consumption altogether. Members of this support group commit themselves to change the self-destructive behaviours and are ready to make favourable resolutions without in their lives while controlling drinking. [4]

Those enrolled adhere to dietary guidelines as a control of their alcohol consumption.

The MM program includes:

  • Limiting alcohol drinking and setting goals
  • Having self-confidence and being self-motivated
  • Abstaining drinking for 30 days
  • Setting rules to govern your habits
  • Evaluating feedback from self-monitored alcoholism
  • Triggers recognition and management
  • Seeking alternatives to drinking
  • Regulating emotions
  • Developing skills to solve problems
  • Taking alcohol abstinence as optional

After successfully undergoing the program, members can re-evaluate their drinking patterns and resolve if moderation management will work for them. Although abstinence is an option, the program has opened gates for people to shun drinking completely. The program is more recommended for those not struggling with substance dependence.

Women for Sobriety (WFS)

Women for sobriety is a self-help program that was formed to offer the necessary support to women struggling from addiction mainly from alcohol. The program focuses on positivity, responsibility, and emotional growth for oneself.

WFS self-help and alcohol support group was found by a group of people who believed that behaviour and thoughts impact one’s health and happiness in life. Therefore, changing someone’s thoughts would change their actions to be better, and the resulting traits will change.

The program focuses on the following 13 statements:

  • Taking charge of one’s life and well-being
  • Reducing or avoiding negative thoughts
  • Creating happiness and making it a habit
  • Understanding problems and avoid overwhelming that come alongside
  • Thinking positively and being a compassionate and caring woman
  • You are making life ordinary and even great by conscious efforts
  • Change the course of one world by loving and caring
  • Prioritise spiritual and emotional growth
  • Stop allowing victimization from the past
  • Learn that you are loved, for there are returns from love
  • Be enthusiastic every waking day
  • Accept your competence, invest much in your life, and practice self-acceptance
  • Manage your thoughts, actions, and life

Secular Organisations for Sobriety (SOS)

This is a non-profit organisation and is open to all people without bias to any given specifications. The addiction support institution operates independently with no influence from any religious or secular organisation.

Meetings follow a similar order to Al-Anon – much time is invested in group interactions and discussions as part of this alcohol support group. Secular Organisation for Sobriety continues with its journey of evolving with new researches without subscribing to theories surrounding alcoholism. Members serve as internal self-motivation, held accountable for improving the lives of their peers.

LifeRing Secular Recovery

Unlike the 12-step program, LifeRing focuses on helping individuals curb their drinking behaviour and obtain sobriety by themselves. They believe of two persons within any individual battling with addiction; that is “addict self” and “sober self”.

In the event of helping individuals, the self-help group focuses on weakening the addict self by strengthening sobriety.

Other Support Groups

Below we have listed some other alcohol support groups that are worth looking into for alternative support. These include:

We Are With You

IA an agency, operating in the UK, that treats alcohol and related problems and helps individuals manage substance misuse.


The group offers an online message board where they help address alcoholism issues.

These alcohol support groups are operated without external influence. They offer any help needed by an individual and upheld high levels of confidentiality. Many people who have undergone the complete process have recovered and can soberly carry on with their duties as well as offering advice to peers.

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