What Is Fellowship in Recovery?

What is a recovery fellowship? Most people imagine an AA-type meeting when they think of recovery fellowships. Indeed, AA certainly meets the criteria of a recovery fellowship, but a recovery fellowship is any group of people who come together to encourage each other in their goals to get clean and/or sober. Many people who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions find that recovery fellowships help them maintain sober lifestyles.

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Why Do I Need a Fellowship?

Alcoholism, drug addiction, and other mental illnesses tend to isolate those who suffer from them. The pervading sense of loneliness only worsens the problem, leading people to continue drinking or using drugs. Often, people with drug or alcohol problems feel on some level that they are alone. A recovery fellowship breaks the cycle of loneliness, giving addicted individuals a community in which to share struggles and encourage one another.

Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the most popular recovery groups, operates under the assumption that only an alcoholic can help another alcoholic. Some people dispute this belief. However, there is value in receiving support from people who have been through the same difficulties that you’ve been through. People in recovery fellowships can offer one another advice based on personal experience, and those who have encountered certain difficulties are less likely to judge others who encounter the same problems.

Nearly half of the people in the U.S. have a friend or family member who has experienced a drug addiction.


Recovery fellowships also keep their participants motivated to maintain their recovery. Many fellowships reward participants with chips, keychains, or other small tokens for different amounts of time that a person remains sober. Even groups that don’t use these tokens can help provide motivation. The regular meetings serve as “check-ins” that can help addicted people take their recovery one step at a time. If a lifetime without drugs or alcohol seems daunting, maybe staying sober long enough to report success at the next meeting will feel more doable.

Recovery fellowships also teach valuable skills and coping techniques to help addicted individuals cope with their addictions. Many of these programs use the 12 Steps as a way for people to overcome their addictions. Other recovery fellowships use techniques based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

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Alcoholics Anonymous

Formal recovery fellowships in the U.S. began when Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (also called Bill W. and Dr. Bob) founded Alcoholics Anonymous. Inspired by a Christian organization called The Oxford Group, Bill W. and Dr. Bob built their group around a 12 Step process that would guide many alcoholics from lives of addiction to lives of spirituality. In the nearly 80 years since its inception, AA has expanded to include hundreds of thousands of groups around the world.

Is AA My Only Option?

Not everyone is comfortable with the principles of AA. While some people take comfort from the “alcoholism as a disease” standpoint, other people in recovery believe that the wording takes away their agency and sense of empowerment to make their own choices. Furthermore, those with non-religious backgrounds can feel uncomfortable when confronted with the spiritual nature of the group.

AA works for many people, but those who would prefer a different organization have options. Many alternatives to 12 Step Groups such as the ones listed below provide their members with other pathways to overcome their addictions.

  • SMART Recovery
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety
  • LifeRing Secular Recovery
  • Women for Sobriety

Other programs exist that do follow the 12 Steps but focus on people with addictions to substances other than alcohol.

  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Pills Anonymous
  • Marijuana Anonymous
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous

These lists are not extensive, and if you’re looking for a 12 Step group or alternative that can help you overcome addiction-related issues, you’re sure to find a nearby group that would love to welcome you.

What About Rehab?

Recovery fellowships are not replacements for detox and rehab, and if you need rehabilitation, the best choice is to go to rehab before joining other groups. Detoxing and withdrawing from alcohol and drugs can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Recovering under the care of medical staff and other professionals will give you the safest pathway to ridding your body of substances.

Remember that rehab and recovery fellowship groups won’t give you an ultimatum. You can absolutely do both. Returning from rehab can be jarring, and recovery fellowships can give you the new social structure that you need to rebuild your life when you return.

Want to Know More?

Do you need more information about recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction? The staff members at Rehab Info are ready to help you. You have an overwhelming amount of options for recovery, but which choices are right for you? We’ll help you figure it out.

We can point you toward the rehab and recovery programs

that will help you reclaim your life from drugs and alcohol. Are you ready to get started?
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