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Home > A briefing on the evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment guidance recommendations on mutual aid.

Public Health England. (2013) A briefing on the evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment guidance recommendations on mutual aid. London: Public Health England.

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Mutual Aid refers to the social, emotional and informational support provided by, and to, members of a group at every stage of recovery. Groups often include people who are abstinent and want help to remain so – these people are actively changing their behaviour using a programme of mutual aid. They also include people who are thinking about stopping and/or actively trying to stop their drug and alcohol use. Groups also exist to support families, children and friends affected by substance misuse.

The most common mutual aid groups in England include 12-step fellowships and SMART Recovery. The fellowships (eg, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and Al-Anon) are based on a 12-step selfhelp philosophy developed in the 1930s. SMART Recovery applies cognitive behavioural techniques and therapeutic lifestyle change to its mutual aid groups to help people manage their recovery.

The role played by mutual aid in promoting and sustaining recovery from drug and alcohol problems has already been examined by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Recovery Orientated Drug Treatment Expert Group (RODT) and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). This briefing aims to bring these existing findings and recommendations on mutual aid together to increase their visibility and accessibility for the alcohol and drug treatment field.


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