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What Are the Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous?

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Many people who are curious about the role of peer support groups in addiction recovery wonder, “Is there an alternative to AA?

AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is widely recognized as a prominent peer support group for those battling alcohol use disorder, but it may not be suitable for everyone. Some individuals with alcoholism may not want to completely refrain from drinking and may instead prefer to focus on reducing alcohol consumption. Others may have the objective of moderating their drinking habits or quitting altogether but may find that other methods of support better resonate with their personal values leading them to seek alcoholic groups other than AA.

This guide to alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous explores the following issues:

Is there an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous program?

Are alternative groups to AA equally effective?

What are the best alternative AA programs?

Why Do Some People Need an Alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous?

Some people may seek an alternative to AA due to the 12-step program’s emphasis on a higher power, which may not align with their personal beliefs or philosophies. Additionally, some people may look for alternatives to AA meetings that allow for moderation or controlled drinking rather than complete abstinence. Others might not find the group-centered approach of AA conducive to their needs and may seek more individualized or tailored treatments that better suit their preferences and circumstances. Resultantly, exploring Alcoholics Anonymous alternatives can open up many new options for those battling alcohol use disorder.

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AA Alternatives

These are some of the most popular alternatives to AA:

  1. SMART Recovery
  2. WFS (Women for Sobriety)
  3. LifeRing Alcoholism Recovery Program
  4. MM (Moderation Management)
  5. Inpatient or outpatient rehab programs

1) SMART Recovery

Perhaps the most popular among alcohol programs other than AA, the SMART Recovery program differentiates itself from Alcoholics Anonymous by its reliance on a research-based approach rather than a spiritual one. Grounded in scientific evidence, the program utilizes techniques and methods that have been validated by research. SMART Recovery offers local in-person meetings, as well as online support through a 24/7 chat board and daily online meetings.

Avoiding labels like alcoholic and steering clear of the disease model of addiction, SMART Recovery focuses on implementing methods derived from MET (motivational enhancement therapy and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). The program’s four-point approach emphasizes creating and sustaining motivation for change, managing cravings and urges, regulating thoughts and behaviors, and fostering a balanced life.

SMART Recovery encourages participants to acknowledge the harmful effects of alcohol abuse on emotional, physical, social, and behavioral well-being. Through the exploration of maladaptive thoughts and unhealthy coping mechanisms, the program helps people establish healthier strategies for managing stress and coping with challenging emotions.

2) WFS (Women for Sobriety)

WFS (Women for Sobriety) is a program specifically tailored to address women’s unique treatment needs and facilitate their recovery journey. Local face-to-face groups are available across the United States, led by moderators, with a focus on fostering emotional and spiritual growth, free from the constraints of alcohol abuse and addiction.

WFS employs 13 acceptance statements as part of its New Life Program, encouraging members to prioritize positivity over negativity. The program emphasizes the acknowledgment of self-destructive thoughts and actions, coping strategies for emotions and behaviors resulting from alcohol addiction, and ultimately overcoming these challenges. Each day, women are prompted to review the 13 acceptance statements, reflect on their experiences, and apply them to their daily lives. These statements guide women to take responsibility for their alcohol addiction, recognize the impact of negative thoughts, embrace the power of choice in attaining happiness, leave the past behind, and value love and acceptance for emotional and spiritual growth.

Women are also encouraged to take ownership of their actions, recognizing their intrinsic worth and competence. WFS provides a supportive environment tailored to the specific needs of women on their path to recovery.

3) LifeRing Alcoholism Recovery Program

Another of the alcohol support groups not aa, LifeRing provides an alternative approach to traditional, spiritually centered 12-step programs like AA, offering a vibrant online community and local meetings across the United States.

Emphasizing individual empowerment, LifeRing maintains that recovery is within the grasp of each person without the need to surrender control to a spiritual entity. Operating as a secular self-help group, LifeRing meetings and principles urge participants to maintain sobriety, fostering the growth of their sober self while diminishing the influence of their addict self. This program emphasizes the idea that everyone possesses a sober self, guiding members to cultivate methods that strengthen this aspect of their identity, rather than allowing their addictive tendencies to dominate decision-making and life outcomes.

The foundation of LifeRing’s recovery philosophy lies in peer support, fostering a community where members share guidance, encouragement, and empathy in their journeys toward sobriety. Beyond this, the program focuses on present life improvements, enabling individuals to embrace a fulfilling and positive sober lifestyle, without fixating on past struggles linked to problematic drinking.

4) MM (Moderation Management)

Moderation Management stands out among other recovery and support groups as it does not mandate complete abstinence for membership. Instead, MM focuses on guiding individuals to manage problematic drinking habits and behaviors, encouraging positive lifestyle changes.

This peer-support program recognizes the changeable nature of behaviors and views alcohol abuse, distinct from dependence, as a habit that can be modified. MM acknowledges that problem drinking varies in severity, and for some people, moderation, rather than complete abstinence, may be a feasible approach.

The Moderation Management Steps of Change program, conducted in face-to-face meetings, follows a nine-step process. Members are encouraged to maintain a diary to track drinking patterns and associated issues. Additionally, they undergo a 30-day abstinence period to develop coping mechanisms for avoiding, cutting back, or controlling drinking when necessary. Personal drinking goals are established, and participants learn to adhere to these guidelines. Self-management and the resolution of behavioral problems related to problem drinking constitute fundamental aspects of the Moderation Management program.

5) Inpatient or outpatient rehab programs

Engaging with addiction treatment can offer individuals struggling with addiction an alternative to traditional support systems like AA. Treatment programs provide comprehensive and personalized care that addresses the specific needs of each individual.

These programs often include various therapeutic approaches, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), MI (motivational interviewing), and holistic therapies, designed to help individuals develop coping strategies, build resilience, and promote lasting recovery. 

Additionally, addiction treatment facilities may offer a range of services, including detoxification, residential or outpatient treatment, individual and group therapy sessions, and aftercare support, ensuring a holistic approach to recovery. By participating in addiction treatment, individuals can access a supportive environment that promotes healing, self-discovery, and the development of essential life skills, empowering them to overcome addiction and lead a fulfilling life.

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Find Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Drug Rehabs Centers

If you’re searching for an alcohol rehab in Southern California, there are so many options that it can become confusing. Reach out to Drug Rehabs Centers today and we will connect you with appropriate treatment centers near you.

For those who are alcohol-dependent, medically supervised detox offers the smoothest pathway to recovery. We can help you find the most suitable licensed medical detox centers near you.

After detox, you will benefit from ongoing treatment to tackle the psychological component of alcohol use disorder. Whether you need inpatient or outpatient rehab, we can help you find the best facilities in the state of California.

Call (844) 739-2005 today and begin your recovery from alcohol addiction tomorrow.

Juan Bonnet
Author: Juan Bonnet

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