Support groups for addicts are a widespread way of treating addiction, not through professional intervention, but through peer support. Alcoholics Anonymous was the first support group to become an established organization, then many others followed in its footsteps with groups to support any kind of addiction, including Sex Addicts Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and more. These grassroots organizations return power to the people to work on and recover from their addiction problems. There is not necessarily expertise in all of these groups, but there is a great deal of experience as the veteran recovered addicts guide the newly recovering addicts through the challenges of recovery.
The format for support groups is fairly traditional for any support group one may attend. The meetings are held in an affordable, designated meeting space that group members pay for together. Introductions are made so that connections can be established, then there is time for everyone to share their personal stories of their battle with addiction. This is the most raw and meaningful part of a support group meeting because everyone who speaks makes themselves vulnerable in front of others, strengthening their own resolve toward recovery and that of the others in the room as well. Group members are honored for the milestones they reach, such as six months sober or one year sober. People within the group form friendships and bonds that last a lifetime, and it is not uncommon for people to spend time together outside of group, drawing close together on many levels.
Support groups cannot replace addiction treatment for those who are in need of intensive treatment. Those who are just beginning their journey toward addiction recovery are typically in need of some professional treatment in order to change the thought and behavior patterns that are destructive to their lives. Support groups work great as an addition to professional treatment for those who are just beginning to combat their addiction problems, or they can serve very successfully as the sole treatment for a person who is becoming strong in their recovery and is falling into a rhythm with their positive mental health.