Mutual aid groups are a source of structure and continuing support for people seeking recovery addiction issues and for those directly or indirectly affected by dependence, such as partners, close friends, children, other family members and employers. Evidence shows that persons who actively participate in mutual aid are more likely to sustain their recovery, and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that healthcare professionals should routinely provide information about mutual aid groups and facilitate access for those who want to attend.

Public Health England, Facilitating Access to Mutual Aid (FAMA)


Mutual Aid

What is Mutual Aid?

Locally Developed Community Based support groups for those suffering from addiction issues

12 step fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous

SMART recovery

Support is usually provided for anyone who is thinking about stopping or trying to stop

Why is Mutual Aid Important?
  • Evidence shows that mutual aid is likely to improve an individual’s chance of recovery
  • Mutual Aid reduces rates of post-treatment relapse
  • Simply attending a group is not enough active participation is important
  • Mutual Aid has an extra effect when combined with structured treatment
  • Some groups specifically help friends, partners and family members to deal with problems appropriately
Going to Meetings

It is important to remember your commitment to recovery. Make every effort to prioritise regular meeting attendance

Negotiating Time

Some programmes suggest new and returning members attend as many meetings each week as they can so they become involved in teh programme as quickly as possible so:
You will need to learn how to balance other aspects of your life with going to meetings
You and your partner will need to discuss and negotiate a schedule that allows everyone’s needs to be met as is possible
Effective problem solving requires certain communication skills you may not have developed or used in some time. If you are experiencing difficulties speak to someone

Making Time

It may seem like going to meetings is taking up a great deal of time. This is especially true given the number of things you may have and want to do. You may also find this increases with the length of recovery.
 The crucial thing to do at this time is to set your priorities

If you bring this up at meetings you are likely to receive feedback concerning the importance of going to meetings in order to maintain the recovery that affords you the energy as well as the time to devote the rest of your life.


The thing that happens to many mutual aid members after they have stopped
They become over confident
Confidence in your ability to take care of yourself and stay stopped is not a bad thing. However when it starts encouraging you find excuses for not going to meetings, it is time to remember:

  • Your priorities
  • That if you do not go, you cannot help others

If you feel this way it might be helpful to bring this up in a meeting and find out how others have dealt with these feelings.

One thing you are sure to hear is that recovery needs as much commitment as our drinking, using did. They say that few of us were ever too ill, tired or sad to drink, use

“We believe that everyone has the capacity to recover”