Are you looking for alternatives to alcoholics anonymous (AA)?
You’re not alone. A lot of people seek out alternatives to alcoholics anonymous for a variety of reasons. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to the 12-step program approach or a group specifically for women, you have options.
In this article, we’re sharing 5 alternatives to alcoholics anonymous for your consideration.
Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous
Recovery methods or tools put into place to help keep you on a sober path are not a one size fits all type of deal. Everyone is different. What works for one may not work for others. And not liking your program will almost definitely hinder your success.
Many people find that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a saving grace when they are thrown out into the world as a newly sober beings. Yet, others dislike the program that they cannot look beyond, such as the references to a “higher power” or the idea of a 12-step program.
So, what do you do when your AA isn’t for you? There are many other good – and effective – support groups to choose from. The key is to find one that fits you and stick with it.
Here are some alternatives to alcoholics anonymous you may be interested in joining.
1. Women for Sobriety, Inc.
Since 1976, Women for Sobriety has been helping women achieve success in their recovery. Based on what they call a “New Life” program, WFS focuses on positivity. It encourages women to use thirteen positive statements as a tool to grow emotionally and spiritually.
The primary focus of Women for Sobriety is achieving a new positive lifestyle. When you are in recovery and beginning your new sober life, you cannot live by the same rules you previously had. This program encourages women to adopt new positive habits and live healthy lives.
Women for Sobriety is solely for females – sorry, guys!
2. SMART Recovery
Self-empowerment. That is the primary goal of the SMART Recovery program. This support group deals with many addictions, from substance abuse to gambling. It is based on the principle that the power to change is within you. They have online and face-to-face meetings that provide the tools you need to be self-reliant in your recovery.
SMART Recovery has a 4-step program that helps its participants learn to curb urges, live a healthy, balanced life, and find the motivation to become self-empowered.
3. Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
Founded in 1985 by James Christopher, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a network of independent groups that work together to provide support for those entering the stage of sobriety. James Christopher is a sober alcoholic. He had initially attended AA meetings but was uncomfortable with the focus on a “higher power.” In searching for an alternative program, Christopher saw the need for secular organizations to support those in recovery.
SOS is a non-profit that has face-to-face and online meetings around the world. They believe that your responsibility, with support from SOS, is what will lead to success in staying sober throughout recovery. Because it is composed of many different individual groups, there are no standard uniform guidelines found amongst the groups. Instead, SOS gives a general focus, and it is up to each group to incorporate that focus.
LifeRing is a worldwide organization. Just as the name suggests, it links people as “life rings” worldwide. When you feel vulnerable, you always have someone to reach out to. The focus is on peer-to-peer support.
LifeRing believes in empowering individuals to oversee their recovery – with the support of their peers. Only you can change your behavior and teach yourself to be successfully sober. LifeRing gives you the tools, and you do the work.
5. Recovery International
Recovery International has been in place for over 75 years. It was founded by Dr. Abraham A. Low, a neuropsychiatrist who has used cognitive-behavioral training to help lead individuals through a healthy recovery. This program helps change how participants think – replacing negative thoughts and emotions with healthier ones. The idea is that thoughts and responses are within our control, and we can change our body’s response by learning to stop the negativity as it crosses our mind.
In keeping with the other alternatives to alcoholics anonymous, Recovery International also believes in self-reliance and self-help, although it does incorporate the mental health factor.
Programs to Avoid
While many programs help you through your sobriety, others may try to convince you that you don’t have to be completely sober to live a good life. They may teach you that drinks are ok – if you drink in moderation. After all, moderation is key, right? Wrong! Sobriety is all-or-nothing.
Here are a few other things to avoid when looking for alternatives to alcoholics anonymous groups:
- Negative behaviors. It is important for you to remain positive during this time, so avoid those who will flush your good mood down the toilet.
- Dependency. You need support, but you must also learn to be a more powerful version of yourself. Avoid groups that breed dependency rather than strength and independence.
- Unavailability of support. You are strong, but you cannot go through recovery alone. And rough patches and urges do not just happen between 9 am and 5 pm. You will need available support 24 hours a day.
Find Your Best Option
There are many options for support. Some rely on a “higher power,” and some are secular. Some are designed specifically for women. Others focus on mental health. However, the common theme among all the programs is that you are ultimately in charge of your recovery. Support groups work to empower you and provide you with tools and means of accountability to crush any anti-sober desire that may surface.
Maybe you find that Alcoholics Anonymous will work perfectly for you. Or maybe you still are searching for the one that meets your needs. Whatever you do, do not try to go it alone. You will need some support. There are many alternatives to alcoholics anonymous out there – take the time to do your research and dive in headfirst. It is about your sobriety and successful recovery – do not take it lightly.
- Sasson R. 10 Tips For Spiritual Growth and Awareness. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://www.successconsciousness.com/blog/spirituality/tips-for-spiritual-growth/
- Georges C. 7 Positive Psychology Happy Habits for Work and Life. HuffPost. Published April 13, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/positive-psychology_b_7046912
- Shah N. Self Empowerment. HuffPost. Published June 24, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/self-empowerment_1_b_7647728
Last medically reviewed October 12, 2022