Are There Alternatives To AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)?

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Alcoholics Anonymous, also referred to as AA, is an international fellowship of men and women who self-identify as having a drinking problem. According to Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. it is “nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.” Approximately seventy five percent of treatment centers in the United States are twelve-step based. While the twelve-step recovery approach, which is synonymous with AA, may be the most well-known, it does not always work for everyone. Part of the AA recovery plan is the need to believe in a higher power, as well as admit to a full lack of control with regards to using drugs and/or alcohol. For some individuals the spiritual aspect that is an integral component of AA will not resonate. Fortunately, there are alternatives to twelve-step recovery. 

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART)

Self-Management and Recovery Training, or SMART, is a theory-based recovery option. The purpose of SMART Recovery, as directly stated by the organization, is for “participants [to] find and develop the power within themselves to change and lead fulfilling and balanced lives guided by our science-based and sensible 4-point program.” The four points consist of achieving and maintaining motivation, learning to manage drug and/ or alcohol use urges, learning to handle thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and learning to live a balanced life. By working through these four steps, an individual will cultivate self-empowerment and learn to overcome addiction and addictive behaviors. SMART Recovery meetings typically last an hour and a half, and they are run by a trained facilitator. Meetings will remain confidential, and as such are an excellent place for individuals to share personal experiences and gain peer support. SMART Recovery meetings are held all over the world, and anyone struggling with substance abuse and/ or addiction are welcome to attend.

LifeRing Secular Recovery

LifeRing focuses on individuals developing self-control and personal strength. Unlike AA, LifeRing does not require its participants to rely or believe in a higher power, nor does it rely on the completion of moving through the twelve-steps. LifeRing believes that every person is made up of the “Sober Self” and the “Addict Self.” With this belief in mind, individuals become a part of an online community and participate in face-to-face meetings to strengthen the “Sober Self” and weaken the “Addict Self.” LifeRing meetings and online support remains confidential. LifeRing Secular Recovery believes that everyone is capable of and possesses the intrinsic power needed to control their addiction.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety

Secular Organizations for Sobriety, also known as S.O.S., is a secular option for those in substance abuse and addiction recovery. S.O.S. does not endorse any single recovery theory, and it is therefore a recovery option that is continuously evolving. Individuals are not required to believe in a higher power, as rational thought and personal responsibility are two of the pillars of recovery through S.O.S. Much like AA, confidentiality and an authentic commitment to sobriety are imperatives as a participant in S.O.S. The peer support and personal accountability that is encouraged through S.O.S. meetings can help an individual in recovery successfully maintain sobriety. Secular Organizations for Sobriety meetings are held all over the world.  

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at

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