Finding support while you’re dealing with addiction can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best sobriety support groups that can help you quit and stay on track.

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It feels as if alcohol is everywhere in today’s culture. No matter where you look, you seem to see ads enticing you with the promise of how much more fun your life can be with a few drinks. But for someone working on their sobriety, these ads are far from fun reminders of their addiction.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), formerly known as alcoholism, can have serious consequences, too. Excessive drinking is responsible for approximately 95,000 deaths a year in the United States.

The good news is, recovery from alcohol and substance use disorders is possible, especially if you have a good support system. Online sobriety groups can help you navigate your journey to getting better.

“Support groups for those [living with] substance use disorders offer peer support and usually include training on how to manage everyday life without using,” says Claire Karakey, a licensed professional counselor and founder of Claibourne Counseling in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The structure of online meetings varies from group to group, but most encourage you to share your story with the group, support others in the group who are having a difficult time, and reflect on ways to improve your life going forward.

“In addition to letting the individual know that there are others [living] with similar issues and that there is hope of recovery,” explains Karakey, “these groups provide their members an outlet to share both wins and losses that they may not feel comfortable sharing with anyone else.”

Building this sense of community is important for maintaining sobriety.

Research indicates that long-term encouragement from support groups and family can lead to a higher rate of sustained sobriety.

When choosing the best online sobriety groups, we kept these important factors in mind:

  • user reviews and evaluations
  • accessibility for new members to join online
  • attitudes toward alcohol and substance use
  • tools and information being provided to attendees
  • emphasis on community and group support

Best overall

Alcoholics Anonymous

When it comes to sobriety support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is probably the first group that comes to mind. The group has a long history, which goes back to the publishing of “Alcoholics Anonymous,” or as members call it, “The Big Book,” in 1939.

The Big Book lays out the “12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.” These steps begin by recognizing and declaring that your addiction behaviors are beyond your control, and that you will put your faith in a higher power to help you through your recovery.

The AA website offers a listing of alcohol support groups and meeting places in your area, as well as links to the local chapter’s website.

Alcoholics Anonymous is free to anyone who wants to participate, but there is a suggestion for donations to anyone who is able to contribute.

If you don’t have alcohol use disorder but live with a different type of substance use disorder, Narcotics Anonymous may be an alternative option.

What we like

  • AA has a long history of helping people with alcohol addiction and has become the top support group for people with alcohol use disorder.
  • Meetings are free to attend.
  • Most AA literature, including The Big Book, is available for free as a PDF download from their website.
  • It’s a good fit for anyone who is religious and wants their faith to play a role in their recovery.

What to look out for

  • Regular attendance is a big part of AA, so this may not be a good fit for someone unable to attend regular meetings.
  • AA is not a good fit for anyone who doesn’t believe in a higher power.
  • It’s not a good fit for someone who isn’t able to fully commit to the 12 step process or has found that 12 step programs aren’t for them.
  • AA may not work for you if you’re interested in cutting down on drinking rather than staying completely abstinent.

Best online toolkit

SMART Recovery

While AA and other 12-step programs may be best known, research indicates that alternative options to 12-step programs, including SMART Recovery, may also be effective.

Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) is an organization that takes a more psychological approach to dealing with addiction by using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to address thoughts and attitudes that lead to choices that may be harmful.

SMART offers in-person and online meetings based on your location. Group meetings are free of charge, but donations are accepted and encouraged at the end of meetings.

In addition to organizing meetings, SMART offers a wide collection of online resources and media, including videos, podcasts, and worksheets. Your free account also gives you access to several discussion forums.

What we like

  • SMART is an alternative for those those who found 12-step programs unhelpful.
  • Meetings are free.
  • Supplemental readings are available at a low cost.
  • Some people found that they benefited from attending both SMART and AA meetings.

What to look out for

  • CBT techniques may initially seem unfamiliar and harder to grasp for people who are used to AA.

Best secular community

LifeRing

As an alternative to faith-based recovery groups, LifeRing believes that you are the person best suited to understand and control your own sobriety.

This group offers both in-person meetings (though most are currently suspended due to COVID-19), as well as an impressive number of daily online meetings offered at different times throughout the day.

Meetings focus on healing in the present and don’t focus on someone’s difficult past. There is no requirement to introduce yourself as an “addict” like with some other support groups, and attendees typically talk about the week they just had.

LifeRing is free to attend, but donations are encouraged after meetings.

What we like

  • LifeRing offers support for those looking for a secular group.
  • Numerous online meeting opportunities can fit anyone’s schedule.
  • The program has a strong emphasis on social interactions and social reinforcement.

What to look out for

  • Participants are encouraged to create their own recovery plan, which may be challenging for those who want to follow a pre-established plan.
  • Those who want to include a faith-based or spiritual focus to their recovery may not like this secular approach.

Best support group for women

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety (WFS) was created because many recovery programs were designed based on how men recover from addiction. Research suggests that men and women experience and recover from addiction in very different ways.

WFS aims to help women deal with addiction by minimizing negative behaviors and growing your sense of self-value, self-worth, and self-efficacy.

Meetings are offered in person (however, they have temporarily switched to video conference due to COVID-19) and are free to attend. A $2–$5 silent donation is encouraged if participants are able to give one.

Each meeting begins by reading the 13 Acceptance Statements. Then each person introduces herself with positive affirmations and shares a positive experience she had.

WFS also offers additional support through phone volunteers and an online forum.

What we like

  • This support group is aimed directly at helping women.
  • The meeting structure, affirmations, and Acceptance Statements are clearly listed on the WFS website for anyone curious about the group.
  • Silent donations allow those with financial limitations to still participate.

What to look out for

  • WFS encourages daily reflection and active application of the 13 Acceptance Statements, which may be difficult for some people to commit to daily.

Best social media app

Sober Grid

Sober Grid is a social media style app that connects people recovering from addiction and people who are sober. You can create a profile that is anonymous, or you can decide to share as much personal information as you would like.

The app allows you to share your location (if you chose to share it) and help you locate other people using the app in your area.

There is also a newsfeed option to share inspirational quotes, messages, or your own personal story with the community.

Another feature of the app is a “burning desire” button that you can press to notify your group that you are having a difficult time and are thinking about drinking or using again soon.

Sober Grid is free to download to your smartphone. Plus, an additional monthly subscription plan for $99 a month (following a free trial) allows unlimited texts and voice calls with a recovery coach.

What we like

  • Social Grid allows you to digitally meet people who are sober in your area for support.
  • App users are able to share their stories and receive encouragement from the global community.
  • You can control how much information you share.
  • You can remain anonymous.

What to look out for

  • Users report the app can be a little buggy.
  • The newsfeed content can be a little stale sometimes or meme heavy.

Best for a sober lifestyle

Loosid App

Loosid is a free app for your smartphone that encourages you to have fun while staying sober. It also connects you with other people who are sober. The most popular feature on the app is their dating network that lets you create a profile and match yours with other singles using the app.

Once you’re matched with someone, the app offers a local listing of date spots that serve mocktails or places that are alcohol-free.

The app also offers help for people living with addiction with six 24/7 hotlines. The hotlines are run by other members of the Loosid community.

What we like

  • It’s free to download.
  • “Sober Dating” removes the pressure to “go out for drinks” by pairing you with people also committed to sobriety.
  • It offers local support from people who are sober in your area along with resources to find professional help.

What to look out for

  • If you live in a small town, the app may be limited in its restaurant and dating spot recommendations.

Best for supporting impacted families

Al-Anon Family Groups

If you’re living with a family member or loved one who has alcohol use disorder, it can negatively affect your health and well-being. Seeing someone you love misuse a substance can also be scary.

That’s why Al-Anon Family Groups were created. These groups help people share their experiences from living with a person with alcohol use disorder in a safe and compassionate support group.

Meetings can be held in person or online depending on your location. They’re free to attend, but a request for donations may be made at the end of the meeting.

If you choose to attend the meeting, you won’t be expected to talk unless you want to. Attendance is kept confidential.

What we like

  • Support group chapters are available all across the globe.
  • You don’t need to register or give any personal information to attend meetings.
  • Teens are given a unique place to talk privately, too. It’s called Alateen, and that’s where they can find support among their peers.

What to look out for

  • This service is intended only for families and loved ones. It’s not a meeting intended for people with alcohol or substance use disorder.
  • Meetings are intended for family members of people with alcohol use disorder, so they may not be as helpful if your family member is misusing another substance.

Research shows that when you initiate positive changes in your life, like attending a sobriety group, engaging in productive activities, and understanding your own relationship and attitude toward addictive substances, you have a better foundation to achieve your goals.

“The truth is that substance use support groups are open and effective for all stages of addiction,” explains Karakey. “Individuals from all walks of life [can develop addiction] and choose to attend support meetings.”

Still, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure, consider talking with a trusted doctor or mental health professional who specializes in addiction.

If you feel that you need additional help, organizations like Recovery Centers of America (RCA) offer treatment, medically managed intensive inpatient treatment, and rehabilitation.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) is a national resource and helpline that can provide you with additional information and treatment referrals. They can be reached at 1-800-662-4357.