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Alternatives To AA: Getting Sober Without Alcoholics Anonymous

Updated on February 12, 2011

You can get sober without AA

A lot of people struggle with a drinking problem at some point in their lives, and it's only natural that they seek guidance and support from other people, particularly those that have been through the same ordeal and have found a way to get sober.

One of the first things many people suggest is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which has helped thousands of people achieve sobriety. But for many of the people who start going to AA meetings, the program just doesn't work. The spiritual side of the AA program simply doesn't sit well with some people, and they are left wondering where to turn to next for help.

Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives to AA. This article takes a look at some of the major organizations that serve as alternatives to AA, as well as some alternative paths. Many of these alternatives to AA take a secular approach, but it's entirely possible to have a spiritual understanding of sobriety outside the bounds of AA.

Alternatives to AA: Other Organizations

SMART Recovery, which stands for Self Management and Recovery Training, is one such organization. SMART takes a secular, scientific approach to sobriety through behavioral and cognitive methods. This basically means that they want to change the way you think and react to alcohol. SMART focuses on four areas for lasting sobriety: building motivation, coping with urges, problem solving, and lifestyle balance. If you're interested in psychology or a cerebral approach to sobriety, you may want to give SMART Recovery a try.

LifeRing Secular Recovery is another alternative. LifeRing is also secular and focuses on three principles: sobriety, secularity, and self-help. Each member is encouraged to find his or her own path to sobriety, and relapses are meant to be seen as learning experiences. LifeRing is also designed to help people whose spouses are alcoholics.

Women For Sobriety is for women only, as the name suggests. This program is also focused on changing how you think about alcohol through a process borrowed from psychology called cognitive behavioral therapy. Women For Sobriety also features a list of 13 aphorisms meant to harness the power of positive thinking and to motivate and inspire women to achieve lasting sobriety.

Rational Recovery is another alternative, and it seems to be designed specifically in opposition to AA. The RR programs focuses on recognizing and countering what they call the "addictive voice," that little voice inside your head that says it's OK to have another drink. It is a secular program aimed at developing self-sufficiency when it comes to sobriety, and there are no official RR meetings.

Alternatives to AA: Sober Your Own Way

If you're looking for some spirituality but still want to avoid AA, many people have found a deeper understanding through Eastern philosophies like Buddhism. In fact, many people think the serenity prayer of AA reflects a Buddhist philosophy.

In addition to these alternative programs, it is possible to quit drinking without AA through your own efforts. I know because I've gone through it myself. I went to AA meetings for six months and really tried to do the program, but I found that I just couldn't do it while still being honest with myself. But I eventually developed an understanding of sobriety that has allowed me to remain solidly alcohol-free for over two and a half years without AA or any other sobriety program besides my own.

To gain lasting sobriety on your own, I believe you need to realize a few important things. For example, you need to accept that you cannot have another drink. If you're still holding out hope that one day you can drink normally again, then you're not ready to stop.

Acceptance is a big part of my personal sobriety. The way I view it, everyone is given a set of obstacles in life. For some, it's cancer, for some, it's a difficult childhood, and for others, it's losing a loved one too early. Alcoholism was one of the obstacles placed in my path through life, and it made my life very difficult for a few years, but the whole experience has made me who I am today. That's what I mean when I talk about acceptance.

The Overcoming Alcoholism without AA eBook
The Overcoming Alcoholism without AA eBook

The Overcoming Alcoholism without AA eBook

To help those who want to quit drinking without AA, I wrote an ebook called Overcoming Alcoholism without AA. I detail my experience and all of the ideas and realizations I had that allowed me to stop drinking without AA, and I hope the book can help others that want to quit drinking but can't accept AA.

I wasted some of the best years of my life lost in a haze of alcohol. I then spent two years struggling and failing to achieve sobriety. I tried to work the Alcoholics Anonymous program and the 12 steps, but I found that I just couldn't do it while still being honest with myself. The spiritual nature of the program made me uncomfortable, and I decided that AA just wasn't the program for me.

I learned how to stay sober without AA, and my life has been a lot better ever since. I have been sober for over two and a half years, and I no longer have any desire to drink. I wanted to reach out and help people who have had struggles similar to mine, so I wrote the ebook Overcoming Alcoholism without AA. I put all of my experience as a recovered alcoholic into this book, and my sincere hope is that it can help you or someone you know to achieve and maintain sobriety. Find out more about this new ebook here.

I also published some additional tips for achieving sobriety without AA on the Squidoo page Quit Drinking Without AA.

Thanks for reading, and I wish you luck on your path to lasting sobriety!

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      Dana Marie 5 years ago from St. Peters, MO

      I am 23 months sober and AA helped tremendously in the beginning - they teach the basic tools to living. Another helpful program for recovery is Celebrate Recovery, it is Christian based and very helpful. What works for some may not work for others...with AA the motto is "Take what you need & leave the rest" - :) I don't feel there is a "CURE" for addiction only learning new ways to cope and live. Peace!

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      X12Recoverado1 5 years ago

      I'd heard of LifeRing and Rational Recovery. I like the idea of secular recovery, but if 12-step works for somebody, that's likewise to celebrate. Fun image for this lens!