United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Mental Health

Self-Help: Groups for Special Populations

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Groups for Special Populations

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Do self-help groups work for patients with a co-occurring psychiatric disorder?
  • Attendance rates for those with and without a Co-Occurring Disorder (COD) appear similar

  • Patients with psychotic disorders may benefit from attending COD-specific groups such as Double-Trouble or Dual Recovery Anonymous

For information see: Timko, C. AA Outcome for Individuals with Dual Substance Use & Psychiatric Disorder [P.15] in the article.

Are there specific self-help groups for patients with a co-occurring psychiatric disorder?
  • Yes, for instance, Double Trouble in Recovery - a fellowship of men and women with a substance use and psychiatric disorder who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems and help others to recover from their addictions and mental disorders. Groups address the benefits and problems connected to psychiatric medications and other issues critical to mental health.
Is AA only for people who are religious?
  • There are quite a few atheist or agnostic newcomers, and a belief in a Higher Power is not a requirement of AA or NA. It is true that programs emphasize the importance of developing a belief in something greater than yourself. However, the definition of that something is left up to the individual. AA and NA very clearly state that they are not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution. The emphasis is on the development of spirituality rather than religion. For some people, the self-help group in and of itself is seen as a Higher Power.

    Less religious individuals can derive as much or more benefit from the groups as religious individuals do as long as they fully engage with the program. Participation in self-help groups improves substance use outcomes, regardless of the strength of their religious beliefs or belief in God.

    For information see: Moos, R., & Timko, C. Outcome Research on 12-step and other Self-Help Programs [p 571].