Mutual Support Groups: Fact Sheet for Providers
By Kristin Blank and Gale Harris
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.”
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
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
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.