Self-help groups

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Reviews in the research literature suggest that some clients of AOD services will benefit from joining a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, or alternative self-help groups [424, 432]. ‘Dual diagnosis’ support groups are also an option, specifically for people with co-occurring mental health and AOD use disorders [433, 434]. It is possible that one group may not suit the client but the next will – even in the same type of self-help group.

As mentioned with regard to psychosocial groups, it is important to assess whether the client experiences social anxiety or impairments in social judgement and social skills, as they may appear and feel awkward in group settings [422]. It should be noted that some groups, particularly those that adopt a 12-step philosophy, may be disapproving of the use of any medication; yet clients with comorbid mental health disorders are often prescribed medication to help treat their mental health condition [432]. Some clients with comorbidity, particularly those who experience religious delusions, may also have difficulty with the strong spiritual focus of many self-help groups [422]. As with other psychosocial groups, there is evidence that longer attendance at self-help groups has a positive impact on outcome, as does social support, with clients who have higher levels of social support achieving better outcomes [435].