18 Dec 5 Alternatives to AA
So you want to get sober, but you aren’t interesting in Alcoholic Anonymous. Some people get to this point and they give up on recovery because they think AA is the only way. Or maybe you have been going to AA for some time now, but you are looking for a new way to support your recovery. Luckily, there are many alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous. Especially in Recent years different organizations have developed their own programs and meetings. If you are interested in recovery but don’t want AA, there are plenty of options out there for you.
1. Refuge Recovery
Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist inspired path to recovery. Refuge was developed by meditation teacher Noah Levine and others who were looking for a way to blend their meditation practice with recovery. The program is based on the Refuge Recovery book, which lays out an inventory process, amends process, and guiding principles. Unlike AA, the program does not require a belief in a higher power. Instead it uses the practices of compassion and renunciation to help you heal. Although this is a Buddhist program, it is not strictly religious and many people who practice other religions find it accessible.
Like AA there are weekly recovery meetings held all over the world. One of the most valuable pieces of a recovery program is the community that they offer. Going to weekly meetings keeps you accountable and plugged in. Refuge groups are peer led and generally involve a guided meditation and time for discussion. Refuge also stresses the importance of connecting with others by getting a mentor. A mentor is someone who has already done the inventory process and can guide you through it as well.
2. The 12 Step Buddhist
If you are interested in Buddhism, but don’t want to ditch the AA model there are a couple of interesting options. The 12 Step Buddhist is a book by Darren Littlejohn that lays out a Buddhist approach to the 12 steps of AA. There is another book by Kevin Griffen called Buddhism and the 12 Steps, which takes a similar approach. Both books offer a way to practice the 12 steps but insert Buddhist philosophy instead of a higher power. These programs are great options for people who know the 12 step model but struggle with the God aspect.
The downside to these types of programs is that they tend not to have many local meetings. You might be lucky to find a workshop close by that is covering the approach but there are generally not weekly meetings. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from starting your own Buddhist 12 step meetings if you like the approach. However, if you stick with this as an alternative to AA you will probably want to find a community of people to share your recovery with as well.
3. SMART Recovery
If you are looking for a secular alternative to AA you might want to check out a SMART recovery meeting. SMART stands for self-management and recovery training. It is not a 12 step based program at all, instead it is based on the therapy model of cognitive behavioral therapy. This model helps people change their thinking and behavior in order to start recovering from addictions. In SMART recovery there is no separation for process addictions or substance abuse problems. Instead meetings are open to anyone coping with any kind of addiction issue.
The program has four main principles:
- Building and maintaining motivation
- Coping with urges
- Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
- Living a balanced life
SMART is a great alternative to AA because there are local meetings all over the world and online. Unlike other recovery programs these meetings are not peer led. The groups are run by trained facilitators. Additionally their website offers a number of online and print resources including worksheets, books, and more.
4. Celebrate Recovery
Celebrate is a Christian-centered recovery program. Celebrate lays out 12 steps that are centered around Christian ideals in order to help people recover from addictions. It also lays out 8 guiding principles for people to follow. These principles are all centered around a belief in God and using that belief in order to help you heal.
Like other programs, Celebrate has a number of meetings across the country. There is also a Celebrate app in order to help keep you plugged into your recovery online. Additionally, Celebrate puts on an annual rally with music and recovery oriented programming.
5. Group Therapy
You might be interested in recovery but not so thrilled about having to go to recovery meetings. Many people prefer to go to therapy support groups or therapy groups for people with addiction issues. There are a number of benefits as well as drawbacks for group therapy as an alternative to AA. The benefit of group therapy is that you have a community of people to share your recovery with. Generally, therapy groups are small and involve the same people going every week. This means you might build deep relationships with the other people in the group. Another benefit is that they are facilitated by trained professionals.
The drawback to group therapy as an alternative to AA is that it can be costly. Unless you find a low cost or free substance abuse group you will likely have to pay for it. Also, how good the group is will largely depend on the person leading it. This means the group can be excellent with a strong curriculum or it might not live up to your expectations. If you are not interested in conventional recovery programs, group therapy is a great option.
Whatever you are looking for, there is an addiction recovery solution for you. You don’t need to go to AA to get sober because there are many alternatives. If you love AA, you might also be interested in trying an alternative as a supplement.