Since I have mentioned that I am using 12 step groups as a part of my recovery plan people have been asking me for resources they can use to find groups. Below are links to find 12 step and support groups in your area and online and more information on my experience with them.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255

Mental Health Support Resources
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). – A non-profit that advocates for the rights of people with mental illness and provides services to them and their families.
Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA): An organization that provides support and resources for people living with Depression and/or bipolar. They have an online support community as well as in person support groups.
National Eating Disorders Support Association: They have local and online meetings. I don’t have any experience with this but I had a friend that was very involved with this organization and found it helpful. You can use this website to fins a group on pretty much anything you can think of in your area. If there isn’t a group for your interest you can start your own!

12 Step meetings
They have 12 step meeting on pretty much any addiction you can think of! These are links to some of the more common ones but look around online and talk to people in your local recovery community if you are trying to find a group on an addiction that is not listed. You can also attend an “open” AA meeting even if you aren’t an alcoholic but would like exposure to the steps.
Alcoholics Anonymous- The original 12 step group
Cocaine Anonymous: Cocaine anonymous is a “non-drug specific fellowship”. If you have any kind of substance abuse problem you are welcome to attend their meetings. CA uses the same basic text as AA. It’s a place for people with substance abuse that want the exact same kind of recovery AA offers since the Narcotics Anonymous texts differ from AA.
Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA): Geared towards people with mental health and emotional issues along with addiction issues. Stresses the importance of treating both of them at the same time since the symptoms of both are so intertwined
*I am a part of the SLAA fellowship and I find it more helpful to go to meeting where everyone is of my same gender. Even though I date girls too I find the meetings a lot less distracting and awkward. I have heard other people share differently but for me I am new in recovery and that is just what is more comfortable.  
Overeaters Anonymous: I had a friend that attended these meetings, worked the steps and recovered. She is now a personal trainer!  

Non 12 Step Addiction Recovery Groups
I don’t have any experience with these but I wanted to include them in the resources because everyone should be free to find the recovery path that works for them.

A few more online resources
Start a blog or video blog.
Facebook mental health and addiction recovery groups and pages. If you don’t feel comfortable posting from your regular profile maybe you can create an alternate profile. :-/ I know it is against the rules but I have done it and found it helpful.
My Experience 

Support groups are helpful even for people that feel they have lots of support from their family and friends. Even though family and friends may be supportive of you they might not be able to relate to what you are going through. They might think you are over reacting, that you need to just try harder or snap out of it. When you share your struggles with people in the support groups they will usually be able to relate and even be able to offer you suggestions by telling you what was helpful for them when they were in that situation. 
I have seen many people recover from addiction through 12 step groups so I know that it is a path to recovery that can work for some people. Doing the 12 steps can be a very therapeutic experience and can really benefit anyone regardless if they have addiction or not. There are many people that have issues with the whole higher power idea in the 12 steps. I will do another post soon about how I make sense of all that stuff.
There are a few things that I want to mention that I think will be helpful to keep in mind when finding a support group.
  • Almost everyone is very scared and nervous their first time going to group. The people in the group know how you feel, they have been there too. They are usually very warm and welcoming to newcomers.
  • If you go to a group and you don’t feel like you really “fit in” don’t give up. Try other groups in your area. I have been to groups that are made up of mainly professionals (doctors, lawyers), some that are more young people, some that are mostly people trying to recover right off the street, there are men’s only meetings, women’s only meetings, meetings that are geared more toward the GLBT community, meetings where most people are atheists and some where all the people are hard core Christians etc.
  • Even if you are having trouble feeling like you really fit in I was always told to look for similarities between myself and the other people in the meeting rather than the differences. Even though you may come from different walks of life once you really listen to them you might be surprised by how much you relate. Focus on what is helpful to you and how you relate. “Principles before personalities”
  • If you are having trouble finding support groups in your area try calling some of your local addiction and mental health organizations and treatment centers. Sometimes their websites aren’t always kept up to date so if you talk to them directly you may be able to find more help. Many mental health and addiction treatment centers and hospitals offer groups and resources they share with the public.
  • If you are attending a local group please make sure that your group’s information is accurate on the websites. I have found that some of the most helpful groups I attend aren’t listed accurately on the websites! How can we help people if they can’t even find us? I am going to talk to the group about correcting this.   
  • Yes, you are there to receive support but you are also there to give it too. Try to stay recovery focused. Of course you just need to vent sometimes but remember the meeting is about everyone trying to get support in their recovery journey. 
Please leave a comment to share your experience and what has been helpful for you!