People looking for ways to overcome an addiction or alcohol problem have a variety of recovery options to choose from, including rehab, outpatient treatment, therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or participating in a 12 step program. There’s no doubt that 12 step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and others have helped countless people overcome addiction. But for many, a 12 step program may not be the most appropriate choice for getting started with recovery. Like with any other treatment, there is no one size fits all approach to recovery. A person should find a program that best suits their needs and background.
There are a few reasons why someone would want to try an alternative to a 12 step program. One is that they prefer a secular approach that makes them feel more comfortable and is in line with their beliefs. Other people look for an approach that emphasizes control over oneself, rather than relying on a higher power. Another reason someone might not feel comfortable in a 12 step program is that they don’t believe their addiction is a label that should be carried for their whole life.
There are a number of 12 step alternatives out there to choose from. Here are some of the most well known and respected programs.
–SMART Recovery – This 4 point program places an emphasis on finding and maintaining the motivation to stop drinking or engaging in other addictive behavior. This program teaches skills to help cope with urges and to manage thoughts and feelings that lead to destructive behavior, and helps individuals balance short term and long term pleasures. The tools of this program borrow from cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. SMART was established in 1994 and features meetings all over the world. Meetings and community are also reachable through social media and online through their website.
-Moderation Management – This program focuses on individuals who believe their drinking habit has gotten out of control and who want to find ways to moderate it. First, they must abstain from alcohol for 30 days and examine the ways that drinking has impacted their lives. After the 30 day period is over, participants are given guidelines on how to keep their drinking in moderation. If they continue to have problems moderating their drinking, participants are encouraged to abstain from alcohol completely.
-Women for Sobriety – This group is designed to provide a safe and empowering environment for women who wish to pursue recovery. Their New Life Acceptance program consists of 13 points that build positive thinking habits, responsibility for one’s self, and constructing a better future.
–LifeRing – The philosophy of this group is called the 33-S approach, and it focuses on Secularity, or recovery based on human efforts rather than a divine one, Sobriety, or complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and Self help, or reliance on one’s own motivation and effort. The group was established in 2001 and has meetings that are easy to access through social media outlets, email, bulletin boards, and other online resources.
SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety) – This group provides members with guidelines designed to place sobriety at the top of their life priorities. Each member develops their own strategy for staying sober even in the most challenging situations. The group was created in 1986 and has a website with resources and other information to get started on their program.