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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
September/October 2008, Volume 16, Number 5 

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Mutual Support Groups: Fact Sheet for Providers

Part of SAMHSA’s mission is to build resilience and help people with substance use disorders achieve recovery. In September, communities around the Nation celebrate Recovery Month (see Recovery Month Testimonials). For service providers, the work of promoting recovery continues year round.

To help providers support their clients, SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment recently released a new issue of Substance Abuse in Brief Fact Sheet, Volume 5, Issue 1, “An Introduction to Mutual Support Groups for Alcohol and Drug Abuse.”

cover of An Introduction to Mutual Support Groups for Alcohol and Drug Abuse – click to view publication

Mutual support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, are nonprofessional groups made up of members who share the same problem and voluntarily support one another in recovery. Though they do not provide formal treatment, they are one part of a recovery-oriented systems-of-care approach to substance abuse recovery.

The six-page fact sheet will help health care and social service providers learn about the effect of mutual support groups on recovery, become familiar with different types of mutual support groups, and make informed referrals.

Finding the Right Fit

Not every group is right for every client. Some groups focus on one abused drug. Certain clients may prefer a 12-step approach and others may not.

According to the fact sheet, service providers can do several things to help individuals find a group that works for them. They can:

  • Learn about the different types of support groups, their philosophies, and whether they are locally active.
  • Attend open meetings to gain firsthand experience with the groups and establish contacts who can work with providers to get clients to meetings.
  • Inquire into a client’s experiences with mutual support groups, their concerns and misconceptions, and their personal beliefs.
  • Start the conversation between a client and a support group contact person.
  • Refer family members who may be affected by a client's substance use; doing so may encourage participation by providing social support.

Other Resources

The fact sheet provides a list of more than a dozen mutual support groups and their Web addresses, as well as additional SAMHSA materials, including a link to a Webcast entitled, “Mutual Support Groups: What Everyone Needs To Know.”

Online, “An Introduction to Mutual Support Groups for Alcohol and Drug Abuse” is available on SAMHSA's Web site . To order a free print copy, contact SAMHSA's Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD). Request inventory number SMA08-4336.


Grant Awards Announced

SAMHSA recently announced grant awards for programs related to children's mental health, suicide, drug-free communities, and others.

Grant Awards Update

  National Survey on Drug Use  
  and Health  

Youth Substance Use Declines

From the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, new national data show a drop in illicit drug use among youth and an increase in adult prescription drug misuse.

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Drugs and Youth: Chart Shows 2002 to 2007 Data

Marijuana, cocaine—changes in use of selected illicit drugs among youth, 2002 versus 2007.

logo for National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month

Recovery Month Testimonials

Two people relate their personal stories of addiction, recovery, and hope.

  Mental Health  
photo of a hand holding a pen to paper

Making Mental Health Services Accessible

Can primary care doctors help with mental health problems? New strategies to overcome barriers associated with reimbursement.

the letter i depicted as an icon representing a friend to lean on

Pros and Cons of Self-Disclosure

What are the risks and benefits of revealing a mental health problem to friends or coworkers?

photo of a boy pointing and a girl laughing

Bullying: Starting the Conversation

Bullies are out there—SAMHSA resources can help parents and educators address the problem.

  Substance Abuse  
photo of people sitting in a circle

Mutual Support Groups: Fact Sheet for Providers

What do you know about mutual support groups? Providers can help connect clients with groups that help people achieve recovery.

photo of a sign reading “Repeated Admissions Start Line Here”

First-Time Versus Repeat Admissions

New SAMHSA data reveal characteristics of first-time and repeat admissions to substance abuse treatment.

SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices

Registry Posts 100th Evidence-Based Practice

NREPP reaches a milestone—find out how the Registry can link communities to interventions specific to their needs.

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Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration – 1 Choke Cherry Road - Rockville, MD 20857
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