3 Alternatives To 12-Step Programs

If you are a recovering alcoholic, you will most likely be encouraged by your counselor or doctor to engage in a sobriety program that will help you stay sober after you leave the treatment or rehab center and return to the temptations and stresses of everyday life. One of the most common support systems is the 12-Step Program associated with Alcoholics Anonymous. While this is a popular support and sobriety method, you may find that it does not align with your personal beliefs, goals, situation, or personality. For example, if you are an Atheist, you may struggle with the spiritual components of a traditional 12-step program. 

There are several alternatives to 12-step programs that are less well known. Perhaps one of these will suit your needs better. 

SMART Recovery 

The SMART Recovery program is similar to many 12 step programs in that it encourages you to meet other recovering alcoholics to offer and receive support. However, it differs because it teaches self-reliance as opposed to surrender to a higher spiritual being as part of your recovery. It covers four main points, including building and maintaining motivation to stay sober, coping with urges to drink, managing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and living a balanced life. 

The SMART Recovery program tends to be flexible and incorporates modern scientific discoveries into its methods. It may be a good choice if you are working with a counselor who uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you disrupt your habit of drinking and build new habits. Many of the aspects of SMART Recovery are similar to CBT, in that you critically assess your motivations that cause your behaviors. 

Women for Sobriety 

The Women for Sobriety system is based on 13 affirmation statements that encourage alcoholics to take responsibility for their actions, gain control in their life, get rid of negativity, and seek out happiness. The program is based on the idea that women alcoholics experience unique feelings of low self-esteem, depression, loneliness, and excessive guilt that contribute to difficulties staying sober. 

Although this program and its support groups are geared towards women, the 13 affirmation statements are gender neutral and many men suffering from alcoholism may find them helpful in managing their sobriety. 

Moderation Management 

Moderation management is unique in that it is designed to help people manage their drinking as opposed to remaining completely sober. It works on the theory that individuals should be given a choice about how they wish to moderate their drinking. Although it is meant for people in the early stages of alcohol abuse and not alcoholics, the program respects and supports the choice of alcoholics to try moderation as opposed to abstinence

The program is built on self-esteem and respect for others and does not have steps or concrete affirmations to follow. Instead, it is a network of individuals who come together to support each other and to share research and methods that have worked to help them maintain their sobriety. This can be a good choice if you decide with your counselor that you do not want to maintain complete alcoholic abstinence or if you want a less structured support group.

Whichever method for supporting your sobriety you choose, it is important that you have a plan in place by the time you leave your treatment center. This makes it more likely that you will be able to find the support you need and maintain the level of sobriety that you need in order to maintain a healthy, functioning life. If you are concerned about the 12-step programs, talk to your doctor or counselor about other options that may fit your personality and goals better.  


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