Alcoholics Anonymous and Related Support Groups

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If you are looking for a substance abuse support group, here are some resources to explore which approach works best for you.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Originally founded during the 20th century by two men who struggled with alcoholism, this network of support groups now serves millions of members worldwide. These members acknowledge alcoholism as a disease that can be worked on through a 12 step process of mutual support. This process brings people together who have the desire to stop drinking. By following the 12 step process, these support groups assign each new member a sponsor to assist them on their journey to sobriety.

Given the option for sponsorship, AA allows people who have completed the 12 steps to mentor those who are just starting in recovery. It has proven efficacy, as demonstrated in several researched studies. The peer support model connects individuals with shared experiences.

The 12 Steps:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs


This group exists to support the family members of those individuals struggling with alcoholism. Through group activities that similarly follow the 12 step process, Al-Anon forms a community of family and friends helping others overcome addiction. As with Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon is a completely private process.


This group exists for the special interests of teenagers and young adults whose parents, or legal guardians struggle with alcoholism. It encourages the practice of sobriety before drinking culture ever takes hold in the social circles of these young people. The guiding tenets also derive themselves from the 12 step process of Alcoholics Anonymous.

If you are interested in becoming a part of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, or Alateen, you should reach out to your local chapter and see about opportunities for joining. If meetings are still virtual in your location, there are potential benefits. Whether happening virtually or in person, the structure of these support groups directly follows the principles of Conscious Empowerment.

Conscious Empowerment

According to Guiterrez’s Understanding of the Empowerment Process (1995), to fully overcome adversity in life, you must follow three steps:

  1. Identify similar others
  2. Redistribute self-blame for past events
  3. Develop a sense of personal freedom

By joining either Al-Anon or Alcoholics Anonymous, depending on your role in the situation, you will be able to identify similar others. Through a shared set of experiences, you can recognize patterns in your own life and the lives of others.

Everyone makes mistakes. If you are an alcoholic or in a relationship with an alcoholic, you have likely made a mistake. It is of utmost importance to redistribute self-blame for past events. Often, the problem lies in the communication between two individuals—not one of the individuals exclusively. You should not blame yourself for a misstep you may have made in your relationship. You also should not blame the other person. It is best to acknowledge the nuance in the situation and move forward with the knowledge that you are continually attempting to better yourself.

Lastly, developing a sense of personal freedom is crucial to conscious empowerment. Defining liberation from your past trauma will determine the path you take forward on your journey through recovery. Most alcoholics have a trauma history. Developing an understanding of how to break free from that traumatic past will take place on an individual basis and vary from person to person.

To overcome a drinking problem and the associated stigma or find support if you are the relative of an alcoholic, you should consider joining Alcoholics Anonymous or related support groups. These communities foster an understanding of substance use disorder as a mental illness. At Valiant Living, we want you to enlist all the support you need on your journey to recovery from alcoholism. At our men’s only facility in Colorado, we assist men living with substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illness. We offer both inpatient and outpatient services to best assist you where you are at in the recovery process. Our expert staff is skilled in medication management, therapy, the detoxification process, and other coping skills as you commit to a life of sobriety. To learn more, contact us today at (303) 952-5035.