Social Support Groups and Their Role in Recovery

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on June 7, 2022.

Addiction support groups provide an array of benefits for those struggling with substance abuse. An essential component of most addiction recovery paths, peer-based recovery groups offer a safe environment for people to communicate their feelings and encourage others to deal with similar issues.

Social groups for recovering addicts are a powerful tool to promote sobriety when used with other forms of treatment like therapy and medication. Whether you opt for inpatient or outpatient care, peer-based recovery groups connect you with like-minded individuals as you discuss hopes, successes and the conflicting emotions associated with the healing process.

Types of Social Support Settings

Addiction is complex and chronic, though highly treatable. While recovery might look different for each person, the primary goal of treatment is to help clients achieve and maintain sobriety.

Treatment often involves medically-assisted detoxification, therapy to treat underlying mental health problems and aftercare programs to help achieve long-term success.

One of the benefits of treatment is the option to attend group therapy, where you can receive and provide encouragement to others undergoing similar challenges. You can receive social support through any of these programs:

  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHP): PHPs provide clients with intensive care up to seven days a week in a supervised setting such as a clinic or hospital. Clients receive a psychiatric evaluation to treat co-occurring disorders, receive medication-assisted detox and can attend group therapy to continue treatment.
  • Residential treatment centers: Clients might opt to transition into residential or outpatient programs to treat their addiction and prevent relapse after partial hospitalization. At a residential treatment center, clients live with peers and support one another on the road to recovery. Since addiction often coincides with mental issues such as depression or anxiety, clients can also receive self-help, medication and individual behavioral therapy while staying in an inpatient facility.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOP): Social support for outpatient addicts is possible when you opt for intensive outpatient programs. The level of intensity for each outpatient program varies, though many receive treatment for a few hours a day, several days a week. The main difference with outpatient treatment is the ability to return home outside of treatment hours. In many programs, clients are encouraged to attend mutual support programs that can continue into aftercare. Social groups help with outpatient recovery by giving clients a place to share goals and achieve long-term sobriety.

The Role of Social Support in Recovery

Support groups are an essential component of addiction recovery, whether you attend inpatient, outpatient or partial hospitalization programs. But what does social support look like?

First, you’ll meet in a group guided by a leader — typically a trained counselor, peer leader or social worker. Depending on the program, these meetings will occur regularly, typically once a week.

Your leader will facilitate each group discussion by asking members to share their successes and mistakes. You’ll communicate your goals and discuss your recovery process while encouraging your peers as they offer their aspirations.

Support groups aren’t intended to replace therapy. However, they can provide much-needed support through the recovery process and facilitate long-term success as an aftercare program. Types of addiction support groups available include:

  • Weekly 12-step groups
  • Support groups in hospitals or outpatient clinics
  • Mutual support groups for families and friends of people overcoming addiction
  • Online support groups with forums or social media groups

Benefits of Peer-Based Recovery Groups

Alongside medication, individual behavioral therapy and specialized self-help, ongoing social support can help clients avoid relapse and maintain a happy, healthy life. Various benefits of social support groups will help you overcome addiction and appreciate prolonged success.

Structure and Accountability

If you have an addiction, you’ll face unpredictability and uncertainty throughout the recovery process. You’ll appreciate structure and organization with weekly group meetings to help you navigate life changes.

Support groups also foster growth by allowing accountability in the recovery process. When you publicly voice your goals, your peers can hold you accountable to meet them and point out techniques that might improve your recovery. You’ll adequately address mistakes while recognizing any underlying mental health issues that coincide with addiction.

Building Life Skills

While in support groups, clients can learn from others and build essential life skills. These might include:

  1. Techniques to conquer cravings: One of the primary benefits of group support is learning techniques from others’ mistakes and successes. Strategies might include ways to beat cravings, manage stress or overcome triggers.
  2. Communication and interpersonal skills: The recovery process can bring life changes that can be difficult to handle. For instance, if you suffer from alcohol use disorder, you might have trouble avoiding the bars and friends made at clubs. You might also have difficulty healing past relationships impacted by addiction. By frequently participating in group discussions, you’ll learn the interpersonal skills for future stages of recovery, such as maintaining jobs and making new friends.
  3. Resilience and healthy coping mechanisms: Those who overcome addiction will meet like-minded people with similar challenges. You’ll discover ways to deal with your issues by learning through others and how their decisions impacted their life for the better.
  4. Self-awareness: Many struggling with addiction can lack the self-awareness to understand the causes of their addiction and how it affects loved ones. Mutual support groups help people learn how their actions affect those around them and how to look inward to solve problems and avoid relapse.

Empathy and Encouragement

Being in a group of people who share similar experiences cultivates a sense of belonging. You’ll find encouragement with those working toward the same goals and hoping to achieve a sober life. You’ll feel like you’re not alone and ultimately increase your self-confidence and drive to heal.

Meeting new people with similar stories also provides empathy during difficult emotional times. You can relate to others as they help you feel better about your situation and navigate life changes associated with addiction recovery. Support groups help to reduce isolation as you witness the healing of others.

Join a Social Support Group at Diamond Detox Today

Addiction recovery presents unique challenges. Therapy and social support are essential components of the healing process and can provide much-needed relief in these times.

At Diamond Detox, we’ll design a custom program to help you build and maintain your sober lifestyle. We offer partial hospitalization services, residential programs or outpatient treatment, depending on the level of care you need. You’ll receive the compassion and encouragement you deserve through our therapy sessions and social support groups.

To learn more about our services, contact us today.


Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
Latest posts by Vicky Magobet (see all)