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Peer Support is not Therapy

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Peer Support is a structured relationship in which people meet in order to provide or exchange emotional support with others facing similar challenges. Examples of peer support are self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), SMART Recovery, and online forums to name a few. Peer Support alone is sometimes mistaken for therapy but it is not the same thing.

Therapy is conducted by a trained medical professional that employs evidence-based procedures to help a person change their behavior. Both peer support and therapy each play a different, yet important, role in an overall treatment plan.

So is AA treatment? No. AA is simply a mutual-support organization. Many of those who have entered into recovery have done so simply by attending AA meetings without formal treatment. Many others have used AA as a form of continuing care to keep them abstinent following formal treatment.1

Virtually all alcohol dependency treatment programs also include Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. AA describes itself as a "worldwide fellowship of men and women who help each other to stay sober." Although AA is generally recognized as an effective mutual-support program for recovering alcoholics, not everyone responds to AA's style or message, and other recovery approaches are available. Even people who are helped by AA usually find that AA works best in combination with other forms of treatment, including psychosocial counseling and medical care.2

Not unlike medications, any peer support is most effective as a component of a more comprehensive treatment plan.

Addiction Survivors - Online Peer Support

Addiction Survivors LogoOnline peer support with separate forums for friends and families of the dependent person and one for the alcohol dependent person.

Join the discussion at Addiction Survivors

Download the Addiction Survivors Online Peer Support Brochure


  1. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., Addiction. HBO Documentary. 2007. Dr. McLellan is a Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Treatment Research Institute (TRI)
  2. Alcoholism. Alcoholism Treatment and Alcohol Rehabilitation. Support Systems Homes.

This page was last modified on : 10/28/2013

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