If Not AA, Then What? Five 12-Step Group Alternatives

Rehab Helps Thousands of Addicts Quit. It Can Help You, Too.

Most of us know someone who was saved from a serious drinking or drug problem by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or a group based on its 12 steps such as Narcotics Anonymous. And that’s where most minds go when we think “recovery” from addiction. Yet AA and similar groups are not treatment – rather, they’re support groups or what professionals call mutual help groups because participants (usually peers) support and help each other without professional therapy or guidance. However, such groups existed long before AA was established in 1935, as noted by William White, author of Slaying the Dragon: the History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America, who documented the existence of native American recovery “circles” a century earlier.

Today, although most people have heard only of AA and similar 12-step mutual help groups – and this approach is included in some fashion in programming of the majority of U.S. treatment facilities – it’s well-documented in the scientific literature that most people who go to AA don’t stick with it.

…studies suggest that just 25 to 35 percent of those who attend one AA meeting go on to become active participants.-Anne Fletcher

According to renowned addiction treatment researcher Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., CEO and Cofounder of Philadelphia’s Treatment Research Institute, studies suggest that just 25 to 35 percent of those who attend one AA meeting go on to become active participants. Of course, attendees do commonly go to meetings for a few months, drop out, and then come back at some later time. But many never “get hooked” and don’t realize (nor are they told in treatment programs) that there are alternative support groups with very different philosophies that might appeal to them. There are more than a few longstanding choices with very different philosophies that exist nationwide.

Some AA Alternatives Support Groups

Faces and Voices of Recovery offers a comprehensive, easy-to-use listing directory, from 12-step to secular to youth-focused. (Note that in addition to face-to-face meetings, many of these groups hold meetings in jails and prisons, and a good number have on-line meetings.) The following are some longstanding national abstinence-based groups (statistics are included for those that shared numbers of face-to-face meetings).

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety (WFS) was founded in the mid-1970s by Jean Kirkpatrick, a woman with a doctorate in sociology who had a severe alcohol problem that she ultimately overcame herself by changing her thoughts when she was lonely or depressed. Kirkpatrick felt that women with drinking problems require different approaches than men and began this abstinence-based program for women, taking the position that drinking begins as a way of dealing with emotional issues and then evolves into addiction.

Designed to bolster women’s sense of self-value, the WFS philosophy stands in contrast with AA’s focus on humility and limiting self-centeredness, working from a position of empowerment.-Anne Fletcher
Designed to bolster women’s sense of self-value, the WFS philosophy stands in contrast with AA’s focus on humility and limiting self-centeredness, working from a position of empowerment. Members are encouraged to learn how to better manage their issues by sharing with and encouraging one another. A major emphasis is on substituting negative, self-destructive thoughts with positive, self-affirming ones. WFS uses 13 statements or affirmations that emphasize increased self-worth, emotional and spiritual growth, not focusing on the past, personal responsibility, problem solving, and attending to physical health.

Latest stats: WFS averages 100 U.S. groups and a dozen in Canada. womenforsobriety.org

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery’s cornerstone is cognitive-behavioral approaches that help members recognize environmental and emotional factors for alcohol and other drug use (as well as other “addictive” behaviors) and then to respond to them in new, more productive ways. It also incorporates motivational interviewing concepts. Unlike some support groups whose principles remain static, SMART Recovery maintains a philosophy of evolving as scientific knowledge evolves.

Although it is an abstinence-based program, SMART Recovery welcomes those who are ambivalent about quitting substance use.-Anne Fletcher

SMART Recovery tools can help you regardless of whether or not you believe addiction is a disease. Working from empowerment, it encourages individuals to recover from addiction (as opposed to being “in recovery” or seeing themselves as having a lifelong “disease”) and is a recognized resource by multiple professional organizations, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Although it is an abstinence-based program, SMART Recovery welcomes those who are ambivalent about quitting substance use. Its 4-point program guides participants in the following areas: (1) building and maintaining motivation; (2) coping with urges; (3) managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors; and (4) living a balanced life. SMART Recovery president and clinical psychologist, Tom Horvath, Ph.D., told me, “SMART is good for people who take lots of responsibility for their lives — those who feel they’re in control of events rather than the other way around.”

Latest stats: 635 U.S. groups; 613 international groups. SMART Recovery also has a youth program and a Family & Friends program. smartrecovery.org

Secular Organizations for Sobriety

[SOS] advocates taking responsibility for problem drinking and handling it as a separate issue, distinct from any religious or spiritual beliefs.-Anne Fletcher

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) was founded by former serious problem drinker, James Christopher, in the mid-1980s. He tried AA but felt uncomfortable with the notion of turning one’s life over to a “higher power,” finding that focusing on self-reliance and personal responsibility were more helpful in dealing with his alcohol problem on his own. He used these tenets in founding SOS, which advocates taking responsibility for problem drinking and handling it as a separate issue, distinct from any religious or spiritual beliefs.

SOS has no structured program, but it has some suggested guidelines for sobriety. The centerpiece is the “sobriety priority” which works from the standpoint that, when using, alcohol or other drugs become the main focus in life. Therefore, to become free of substance, SOS maintains that sobriety has to become your priority, and you “cannot and do not use, no matter what.”

Latest stats: I was told, “SOS has well over 1000 meetings.” sossobriety.org

LifeRing Secular Recovery

LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR) was formed more than a decade ago when a number of SOS groups changed their names and affiliated as LSR, a separate group that was formed because of differences of opinion about how the organization should be structured. LSR has three fundamental principles: sobriety, secularity, and self-help. For this organization, sobriety also always means abstinence from alcohol and other problem drugs, and they practice the sobriety priority, “we do not drink or use, no matter what.” Although people of all faiths or none are welcome, LifeRing supports methods relying “on human efforts rather than on divine intervention.” For them, self-help means that the key to recovery lies in the individual’s own motivation and effort, and the group is there to reinforce his or her own inner efforts.

Latest stats: 159 U.S. groups; 41 international groups. lifering.org

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery (CR) was founded as a Christian support group in the early 1990s and is part of the Saddleback Church of Christopher Warren (author of mega bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life) fame. It has eight recovery principles based on the biblical beatitudes, each translated into a principle of personal recovery, and provides a Christ-centered, Bible-based recovery program. In an article on the program’s history, writer Elias Crim described CR as “Alcoholics Anonymous powered by Sermon on the Mount.” While CR does incorporate the 12 steps in some fashion, it is separate from AA, with its own steps designed for all types of “addictive behaviors” that aim to free people from “hurts, hang-ups, and habits.”

Here’s an example of how the first part of CR’s step one is similar to AA’s but the biblical quote is added by CR:

We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors. That our lives had become unmanageable. (“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:18)

Latest stats: The June 2009 article by Crim indicated that the Saddleback Church estimated that more than 10,000 churches – “almost all evangelical” – offered a CR group. However, the organization did not confirm this number or send any new data. celebraterecovery.com

Where’s the Evidence?

If nothing else, we know that people have better treatment outcomes when they’re offered choices and not coerced to accept one thing or another.-Anne Fletcher

Although very little research has been conducted on non 12-step mutual help groups, psychologists and AA researchers Keith Humphreys and Lee Ann Kaskutas said of them at a 2007 conference at the Betty Ford Institute, “By analogy, one can reasonably argue that these organizations probably benefit participants because they share curative features (e.g., abstinent role models, social support) with organizations that have been shown effective in longitudinal research. For some organizations, like SMART Recovery, an even stronger argument through analogy can be made for effectiveness because the organization’s change technology is adopted from well-established treatment approaches.”

If nothing else, we know that people have better treatment outcomes when they’re offered choices and not coerced to accept one thing or another. In 2012, a report on addiction treatment in the U.S. by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia stated, “The research evidence clearly demonstrates that a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment typically is a recipe for failure.” As a case in point, for Inside Rehab, Rose T. said she felt that her relapse following her first treatment experience might have been prevented had she been told about Women for Sobriety at that time. Eventually, on her own, she explored alternatives to AA and found Women for Sobriety to be the best fit. She shared, “To sit in a room with others like me, makes me feel less alone. I’ve found such a beautiful community of sober sisters, and I’ve got such a strong support group standing behind me.”

It should be noted that it’s not uncommon for people who attend these non-12-step support groups to also attend AA, a relationship that is typically not discouraged. Note, too, that a mutual-help group called Moderation Management, which has 30 face-to-face groups, is available for people with drinking problems but who are not addicted to alcohol and want to reduce or stop their drinking and make other positive lifestyle changes.

Related: The Dual Citizenship Phenomenon by Tom Horvath
Photo Source: pixabay

What Are Your Thoughts on this Topic?

  • LifeRing

    Thank you, Ms. Fletcher. for this useful overview of alternatives to AA. I remember back 15 or so years when I decided I needed help in order to quit drinking. In my town at the time, AA was the only support system available. But I had looked through their “Big Book” and knew I would never feel comfortable there. I turned to Google thinking there had to be alternatives, but boy, were they difficult to find! At last I stumbled upon LifeRing, joined one of their email support groups and felt immediately as though the “support” piece of the puzzle was firmly in place. It still took me awhile to “get it,” but the support I received from LifeRing never wavered. I’m still involved and highly recommend them to anyone seeking secular, supportive help in finding their way towards lasting sobriety.

    Craig Whalley

  • Shira Goldberg

    As an advocate that presents resources that are more aligned with each individual, I have found individuals are interested in learning more about alternatives besides the AA type fellowships. This curiosity has proven to be really beneficial to both clients and non clients alike. It is important to provide information in way that is useful to someone, not it in a way that is based on anecdotal evidence, since it was useful to you it must be the way to go for everyone, type logic. I have seen a shift, maybe because of more awareness, that these self help support groups really are ideal for those that have once felt hopeless, now feel hopeful, once powerless, now powerful. As we see more examples of evidence and strength based options integrated in treatment centers and communities, there can only be more people that feel connected and more a part of their own recovery. WIth more knowledge of such alternatives, they will continue to grow in communities and prove to be vibrant and viable options, people just have to know such options are available.

    Shira Goldberg, BSc., RRW, Master Recovery Coach GoldbergSoberCoaching.com, SMART Recovery facilitator, LifeRing participant and host of The Addiction Show

  • http://www.chaplainmike.com/ Mike Hansen

    Here in the Denver area Step Seven Ministries is a very effective and growing Christian alternative to AA. I’ve seen many, many lives saved and changed. http://www.StepSeven.org

    • abn12

      don’t forget to sleep with the pastor

  • BobbyBlunt

    SOS assured you they now have 1,000 meetings? Wow, after viewing their meeting directory that would mean over 900 of them are super-secret unlisted meetings.
    Thanks for the time you put into researching this article. Having the facts on alternatives to AA so handy is a great service.

  • massive

    We need National PSA that promote and educate that there are 6 free options to AA self support groups. Many have no idea.

  • Jon S

    Hi Anne. This is an excellent resource. I also really like your book. Recently I saw the independent documentary movie One Little Pill (available on Vimeo) which is an extremely convincing discussion of The Sinclair Method. Amazingly this has been available since the mid-1990s but hardly used outside of Finland. How many alcoholics who could not find abstinence have died in that time? If AA really cared for the suffering alcoholic they would produce literature that outlined such alternatives in the interests of openness and transparency. I recently left AA after 14 years and my site “Leaving AA, Staying Sober” at http://jonsleeper.wordpress.com also includes commentary on all the resources you’ve listed here. JS

  • abn12

    I have almost 17 years of sobriety in AA. What I am about to say is only from my experience. I am an alcoholic – I can never use alcohol in any way, shape, or form. I am an alcoholic. I am upset but understand how AA is not for everyone, not everyone who drinks heavy is an alcoholic. I tried just about every way imaginable to get sober and nothing but AA worked. I love people who bash AA. They only read a portion of the big book and then claim it is a cult or it is guilt and shame based etc. That is ok. I love how this family in California is trying to sue AA because their “court ordered” daughter was killed by a “court ordered” asshole. They should be suing the court who ordered this guy there. AA today is no longer AA. It is simply an extension of the judicial system, clean and sober housing system and treatment programs. I am a member of AA and do not believe AA is the only way for folks to get sober. Bill Wilson stated in 1950, “If AA proposes to have a cure for all of the worlds ills then it is no longer AA.” Today AA has become just that a cure for all the worlds ills. There are sponsors, much like parents, who want to be your friend. Then there are those with time who do not stand up and say anything about predation both male and female predators. I have started new meetings where court slips, treatment slips or housing slips are not signed.

    • Sean Syrek

      That is awesome! Good for you. AA and the like are at their core peer run VOLUNTARY programs. What is so hard to understand about that? These judges and lawyers are supposed to be super smart right? Forcing people to participate in a VOLUNTARY program? Ridiculous.

      • abn12

        The collective AA ego was stoked when the judges said, “you can help when no one else can.” That was all that was needed. Now we have pedophiles, murderers, serial rapists etc sitting in meetings and praying on victims – male and female. No wonder people talk crap about AA. AA does not propose to have the cure for all of the worlds ills if it did it would not be AA. The steps and the program saved my life but it is not for everyone!! Thanks for your reply Sean

    • blimpalot

      I’ve read all of the big book and am anti-AA.

      • abn12

        wow you read it huh? Hey different strokes for different folks it worked and works for me

      • abn12

        it does state in the big book “if a man can find another way to get sober our hats are off to him.”

  • Mike Orr

    In AA, they say, “rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed this path”. But in argument, I say rarely have AA people seen one succeed who hasn’t followed this path, because the people who recover from addiction without AA aren’t in their close little social circle.

  • Darrell B.

    I have been a member of AA and “secular” groups for over 30 years. I have noticed that those groups who embrace judeo-christian values , to be far kinder to their fellow members than the secular ones, in general. Being just “dry” is not equal to reaping the benefits of a sober life. Furthermore, I have noticed that many secular members are also radical Leftists who transfer their addictive energy, to dislike of those who are in disagreement with their life-philosophy. Please beware of the negative energy of many of those group-members. Darrell.

    • blimpalot

      Sounds like the religious have morals and Atheists do not argument.

      • bob


    • challenger1

      Hear hear

  • Anne T

    Thank-you! Unfortunately in Sac.CA, where I live there are no WFS Group. Why doesn’t this program have more meetings on the West Coast?

  • Lilarose Davis

    There seems to be a lot of help for drug addicts but not for alcoholics. If I were in jail, I would be offered some kind of help as a drug addict. I can’t afford a program like we have in Oregon (Serenity Lane). I live remotely and just to get to the facilities is difficult. I wish there was something on Facebook besides AA groups, and particularly for women.

    • Jon M

      You might be interested in SMART Recovery. You can visit their website at smartrecovery.org. They have online meetings and ones also broken down for just women, youths, etc.

      • jt

        SMART Recovery costs lots of money. You don’t get to see anything unless you sign up for $89 bucks for 3 months. Yes less than doing drugs or drinking for a couple days but that is a lot of money.

        • http://mylifeas3d.blogspot.com/ DeanDD

          Hi, jt. I’m 99.99% sure that the SMART Recovery program is free. You may have to purchase reading materials, but those are optional. AA does the same. I suppose I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure anyone can attend SMART Recovery meetings absolutely free of charge.

          • Jon M

            No you are 100% right. It is free, they just ask for a small donation to pay for the rent. By small I mean 1 or 2 dollars. And yes you can buy literature for around $10. It’s the same as a 12 step meeting. I’m a certified SMART Recovery Facilitator, I have no idea where “jt” came up with those numbers.

          • Publius Ceasar

            The SMART meetings I attended locally all had a “suggested” minimum meeting “donation” of $5-$10 – the price of 2 drinks is how the facilitator put it.

            • Jon M

              Not sure of the purpose of the quotation marks over suggested and donation?

              • Publius Ceasar

                SMART facilitators are paid from whatever “donations” are leftover after SMART takes its cut. They weren’t quite insistent on the donations, but it was clear they expected them and a $1 didn’t cut it.

              • Jon M

                I am a registered SMART Recovery Facilitator. We are not paid at all. It is completely voluntary like being the chair of a 12 step meeting. There is no SMART “cut”. The money first goes towards rent for the room, second to buy books then whatever is left over gets sent to the main offices at SMART to use. It is exactly the same as AA and NA use their donations. Either you are grossly misinformed, attempting to slander SMART or have a facilitator that is personally keeping money which is NOT ALLOWED.

              • Publius Ceasar

                Then I am only speaking of the one SMART group I participated in. The facilitator very clearly told me that he was going to have to shut down the group because not enough people showed up and not enough people donated. That he received a portion of the donations, that he sent a portion of the donations to SMART (which may have been for literature, that wasn’t clear.) You may be right – he may have been skimming. He was an out-of-work professional psychologist and counselor.

                I have no axe to grind with SMART – I found it a very useful and intelligent system with far more appeal to me than AA. My largest gripe is the lack of ubiquity. Until this one group formed near my decidedly rural home, SMART was inaccessible to me outside web-based discussion and chat. I personally didn’t mind the donations, however – the $2 I drop on an AA meeting is a far cry from the $10 he was strongly hinting was appropriate. My apologies if I came off as denigrating the methodologies and program SMART offers.

        • Jon M

          It is 100% free. I have no idea where you came up with those numbers. Anyone can go to a meeting and the room rent is paid for by passing a hat around and asking for small donations (like 1 or 2 dollars). Exactly like any 12 step meeting. The literature costs around $10, once again the same as any 12 step meeting. On top of that they also have FREE online meetings if you don’t feel comfortable going to an actual sit down one.

        • Brad Welch

          Maybe you’re thinking of Rational Recovery?

    • Tena

      I am a drug addict and have been in jail several times , help was NEVER offered. I detoxed with nothing however if you take benzos or your an alcoholic you are taken to hospital because you can die during detox (has happened several times thus jails have to detox alcohol or benzo inmates) Opioid inmates they do nothing for.

  • Beth C

    Dr Stanton Peele has developed his Life Process Program into an online based program, link to lifeprocessprogram.com.
    To quote a recent sign-up to the program:
    “I really like the idea of following a structured program without having to spend thousands of dollars and trying to explain my 4 weeks absence from my home. I also like that I can conduct this without having to leave my home and that I am available to my family and my business as usual”

    • Gerard

      $38.60 a month.

  • Skeptic

    I have tried to get clean and sober for years……

    I have tried NA and AA for years…..

    I’m an atheist and anti-group think……

    12 Steps doesn’t work for me….

    It never will…..

    It’s based on Judeo-Christian Moral Principles and Theology…..

    No rehabs based on 12 Steps should supported by Tax Dollars….

    I hope to get clean and sober…..

    But, I’d rather die than be brainwashed in sobriety…..

    I will never accept or believe something to help me go along and get along….

    Integrity or Survival?

    • Grateful

      That’s too bad your not willing to go to any length to get sober. The fact that you would die rather than be brainwashed is probably whats gonna happen. I don’t know about you but I needed a good brainwashing. You don’t have to believe in the actions, just do them. You might be amazed by what happens. Have you ever tried working the steps? They only work if you try. Ill be praying for you.

      • mw

        don’t listen to this idiot. the choices are not so black and white. 12 step programs do not help all or even most people. don’t let people like Grateful shame you into thinking you will die if you don’t accept 12 step recovery. think about it: if you had depression or diabetes, would you tell someone that the only way to fix themselves is by making up a god; and accepting the stupid sayings that 12 steppers have, which are mindless slogans, coming from a book written 100 years ago. think for yourself

      • Rodney

        I’m a sober atheist who goes to AA meetings several times each week. I have gone to secular AA meetings and those that read the regular 12 Steps that have God in them. In working the steps, I use a secular version, and they have kept me sober. I have many friends in AA. Some of them believe in some sort of higher power and some of them don’t. We all respect each other’s beliefs or lack thereof. The most important thing I get out of the meetings is the relationships I develop with other people in recovery. I feel supported, understood, and loved. And I get to be helpful to others seeking recovery. That is an awesome experience.

        • John Citizen

          When I hear that AA is working for someone, I’m thrilled. But, if you believe in a “Higher Power” you might not be an atheist. If you are spending a few evenings every week reciting teachings about God, you might not be an atheist.

        • Zeus

          There is no such thing as a “secular” AA. Removing “God” from the big book and exchanging it for the eumphemism, “Higher Power,” does not remove the spiritual foundation which makes it an inherently non-secular organization and non-secular philosophy.

          • Daryl Hartlauer

            Step 1.) Acknowledge that I cannot use safely at any time, that bad shit happens to me every single time and it tears my life to shreds.

            Step 2.) Came to believe I am a) worth living happily and abstinent b) that I have the power to do things differently—I can change mal-adaptive and destructive patterns of thought, behavior and action, and make wise choices to stay sober and happy.

            Step 3.) Become willing to do things differently and make healthy choices in my thoughts, behaviors and actions through various methods, be it CBT, suggestion from wise friends, my sponsor, my father’s wisdom, a therapist, SMART meetings, meditation and the development of my own inner strength and wisdom.

            Step 4.) Look at the patterns of thought and behavior that don’t serve me and keep me angry, depressed, upset and lead me to drink or use other drugs. Where resentments are concerned, acknowledge my part, be it ever so small, so I can empower myself to change these patterns and have compassion for others. Recognize that interacting with unhealthy people is foolish and causes me harm.

            Step 5.) Reflect on these patterns, discuss them with someone if necessary and fully acknowledge that these things harm me and cannot continue.

            Step 6.) Become willing to surrender these negative patterns of thought, behavior and actions, including drinking or other addictive behavior, unhealthy romantic entanglements, unhealthy job settings and unhealthy people.

            Step 7.) Take the necessary action to change these mal-adaptive patterns, to end unhealthy relationships and continue to take action that leads me to sobriety, sanity and wellness.

            Step 8.) Make a list of persons I have harmed and become willing to make amends to them.

            Step 9.) Make direct amends to such people, whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them, myself or others.

            Step 10.) Continue to watch for mal-adaptive behavior, without judgement, and take action to change it. Be kind and apologize when I’m in the wrong.

            Step 11.) Involve myself in positive activities, such as dance, travel, learning in classes, exercise, meditation, going to museums and readings, writing and cooking. Hang out with positive and spirit-lifting people to participate in life and keep moving forward, away from my addictive past.

            Step 12.) Develop an ethical compass. Treat myself and others with respect, live with wisdom generosity and compassion. Give back to the community when possible and to others in recovery while employing healthy boundaries. Live an example of a positive, openhearted, honest, ethical life and put the shopping cart back where it belongs in the grocery store parking lot.

      • challenger1

        Excellent i agree

      • Cassondra Sue Duffy

        Judgemental much? Just because a 12 step program worked for you doesn’t mean everyone should be forced to do it if they’re an addict. Any idea what goes through a gay or bisexual ex Christians mind everytime “higher power” is said at na or aa? We think “yeahhhh right. The same God that I prayed to asking to either save me from homosexuality or kill me and end this cycle of never-ending sin that I can’t stop no matter how hard I try, who didn’t do either, is really gunna care about me NOW? REALLY? i’m like an ant to God. Or worse a poisonous spider. He doesn’t care. Why should I ask him for help? If he didn’t save me from sin before then why will he save me from slow suicide through drug use? ” and then it makes us feel guilty for our “sins” of being gay-something that cannot be helped. Which then can be a trigger. Guilt can be a trigger. So for gay/bi/trans ex Christians (or most other religions for that matter) a religious 12 step program is more of a problem than a help. And don’t say I didn’t try hard enough to “turn straight”. I was 14. On my 14th Birthday when I realized I had a crush on someone of the same sex. I was suicidal. For a year. I tried so hard to “turn straight” and I prayed EVERY DAY for a year for God to save me or kill me. I stayed away from the same sex. Tried dating the opposite sex. Nothing could stop my feelings.

        • Monique Parker

          I know your post was from a long time ago, so you may not get this, but i just wanted to tell you that God loves you no matter what your sexual preference is and regardless of any addiction or any other type if issue!! I’m sorry that some church or church member told you or made you believe otherwise. The truth is that we are all sinners but we are also all pure as snow and completely forgiven because of His Grace! If you would consider giving God a chance again, please contact me and I can introduce you to so many loving Christians that understand the real truth — that God loves all of us misfits no matter what! No judgment here! :)

    • Skeptic 2

      I am an atheist as well. I was put in a in patient twelve step program for a month. I regularly attend as meetings. Even though I think it’s all shit I have heard before and the lessons they teach seem to me like common f***ing sense. It helps to have a support group, that’s the only reason I keep attending. When I help people It helps me stay sober. Hearing other people tell there stories even though sometimes I roll my eyes and think they are exaggerating or whatever. No matter how much your against the principles of you let it help you it will help.

      • Lou

        I feel the same fucking way,, I have been fighting alcohol for 30 yrs and i always fail to stay sober, But i do not want god chubbed down my throat so i can stay sober.. theres gotta be another way, another support group..

    • tr8cytr8cy

      Why would your rather die than be brainwashed into sobriety? Think about what you are saying. You think death is better than living free from alcohol. That is insane. That is your crazy brain telling you to keep drinking. Look at how your brain is trying to kill you. My quality of life as an alcoholic was such a night mare I was saying… bring on the brainwashing! Because that’s what I needed. I definitely needed my brainwashed to believe the truth, that alcohol was bad for me and I could never safely drink it. My mind kept telling me it was going to be okay to drink this time. Our problem is in our mind. Your brain is lying to you. You are believing the lie that death is better than whatever it takes to get sober. I see that you wrote this post 9 months ago. I pray that you have accepted and believed something that helped you go along an get along….. because if not you surely will end up dead drunk.

      • Daryl Hartlauer

        Brainwashing IMO is about being subjected to repeated cycles of indoctrination into a Belief System (B.S.) to the point that eventually the person accepts the premise without further questioning. 12 Step Fellowships do indeed fit this description.

        I have over 23 successful years experience with recovery and abstinence from substance abuse. I am familiar with many plans and programs including 12 Step, SMART Recovery, SOS, Celebrate Recovery, Rational Recovery et al.

        My personal experience was in learning first just how to maintain abstinence successfully and to begin examining my own history, beliefs and feelings around using… later, creating purpose and meaning in my life and reconnecting to my family, my community and society at large.

        Much of my own recovery has been based in CBT and using a network of sober people to connect with for support. For me… this has worked. Another person might have a similar or a different result. The important part to remember is that each person will find it (recovery) in their own way, and that if one particular ‘brand’ isn’t working… try something else.

  • http://shryve.webs.com/ William

    Below is the Charitable Choice Act. It clearly states that Government Funds should not be expended on religious activities like the 12 Steps. I have seen plenty of Rehabs where the staff would teach the Steps during Group Therapy time.

    The Charitable Choice Act
    link to gpo.gov

    This is a statement from the White House that says it best:

    1. No funds provided directly from SAMHSA or the relevant State or local government to organizations participating in applicable programs may be expended for inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization (42 USC 300x – 65 and 42 USC 290kk; 42 CFR section 54.4)

    Page 283 of PDF File link to whitehouse.gov

    AA Groups can still come into Gov funded Rehabs but time and space also has to made available for nonreligious self-help groups.

    I hope this helps cancels the unhealthy favoritism that Substance Abuse Workers who are AA members give to AA.

    • challenger1

      I think youre out to lunch the 12 steps do not have to include religion. It says higher power.

      • http://shryve.webs.com/ William

        It does not matter what you or I think, the fact is that every time the issue reaches the courts the verdict is that AA and the 12 Steps are religious in nature and some provider or state agency has to pay out large damage payments.

      • Daryl Hartlauer

        ‘Power greater than our selves’… implies a deity… having faith in the healing and restorative abilities of that deity is the foundation of the entire program. Granted,… an atheist can ignore this basic platform, opting for using G.O.D. as an acronym or simply recognizing that probably the biggest benefit of using a 12 step program is in it’s fellowship of members offering support to each other in seeking to solve a common dilemma. However, it is hard to ignore a prayer at the end of each meeting enjoined in a circle as not being at the very least pseudo religious.

  • nacron

    It says in the big book of alchoholics anonymous, and I’m paraphrasing, that we ‘don’t hold a monopoly on sobriety’. Also it says that science may one day acomplish what we have So far failed to do. So in conclusion, my two cents is that all these alternatives are wonderful. What marvelous times we live in were people are so devoted to helping others achieve a better life, free of drugs and alcohol. I’m not christian, or even christian based, and I’ve often felt that it must be really hard on atheist people who kind of get show horned into AA. It’s not about being all knowing, all encompinsg and right. It’s about being a functioning ‘recovered’ (yes we do recover) individual. My hat is off to all these great people helping each other.

  • Sunni

    Thank you for sharing this article and insights to other self help groups that offer alternative solutions to addiction – hoping and believing for a better world. Peace & Love

  • CJ Plourde

    Wise words. As a Tibetan practitioner and monk, I’ve never believed in a god concept. As such, I remember an older woman chasing me in an AA meeting when I first sobered up. She grabbed her cross around her neck and said, “So, have you found God yet?” Her belief was that unless I surrendered myself to her understanding of a H.P. I would never stay sober. Well, I’ve been sober for more than 30 years and I never surrendered my life over to the care of an H.P.

    The idea you mentioned, that mono-theism is relatively new, is so true. In fact, December 25th was a day that actually celebrated the birthday of an Egyptian deity, Maimonides, if I am spelling that/remembering that correctly. I doubt many Christians are even aware of that.

    The things that kept me sober was compassionate help for myself and for others. More so the latter than the former. As a Buddhist, that worked well for me. You don’t have to believe in a god to be sober, you just have to want to be sober.

    • emilywhetstone

      Maimonides was a 12th-century Jewish philosopher and astronomer, so he was definitely not the inspiration for celebrating Christmas on 12/25.

    • HARRY S

      One of the wisest comments I have heard in relation to AA. Thank you for speaking up. I so agree. I do think intellect does play a part in which approach is best for an individual. I am not trying to insult anyone but we do not all wear the same size shoe, we cannot all dunk a basketball, we can not all be mathematical wizards and so it goes. For some people it is imperative to have a level of insight and understanding what catapults you further from a drink or drug or brings you closer. The level of crazy is just as high if not higher in the 12 steps as it is in the real world so you have to be able to dodge the lunatics that bring you closer to disaster no matter how certain they may be that they are right. One screwdriver does not work with all types of screws.

  • tropical69

    When I entered recovery I was thrown in a room with 5 other depressed addicts and we were expected to work a miracle. It seems crazy now that the main solution for addiction was to hang out with other addicts. Needless to say it made zero impression on me and may have have hindered my growth. Meetings may work for those who really only have a drug abuse problem. In other words, the severity of the case and the psychological state of the addict needs to be addressed, and that cant happen in a group setting. Another problem is the discourse in NA/AA is already given to the addict, thus hindering any highly personal/original interpretation of the individual addiction. Basically, they take the stance of an authority on addiction and you are anonymous.

    I think the first step for many people should be an addiction specialist or therapist. The addict needs to find a voice and speech in recovery with a psychologist. Maybe I am speaking for myself, but I needed deep one on one work with a professional yo explore the causes of my behavior.

    • LeVon DaVid

      I would appreciate your opinion more if you knew something about AA/NA because what you just said is false, sorry to burst your bubble. What works for some may not work for others. & you only enter recovery when you start to work a program of recovery not just not using.

  • Troy

    Always remember, what works for me, may not work for you. How we find sobriety is a journey. AA/NA helped me for so long, but I eventually found another way. We must all love and support one another in our sobriety, no matter what path in life we take, and NOT criticize another person for how they achieve sobriety. It’s easy to bash “religion” because of a bad experience we had in life, but remember, it may (religion) just save someone’s life. Be patient, be kind and love our fellow addict/alcoholic.

    • Daryl Hartlauer

      I absolutely agree… There is not just “One Right Way” that works for everyone. Each person seeking recovery has their own needs and motivations to consider. Where it becomes more apparent is as a person sustains a longer period of recovery, often several years or more… there is a shift that occurs where they are no longer trying to “recover” what they lost in life as a result of their addiction, rather that they are discovering what and who they currently are and how that fits into their new life.

    • Dan

      A big Amen to that. And I’m not even religious!

    • HARRY S

      Cant argue with anything you just said.

  • James

    I attend a regular AA meeting, and there is constant talk of the need for a sponsor. I have tried two sponsors and find in general there is no leadership but a more bullying approach….”if you want recovery you MUST do this…..”

    I need to find a sponsor I like and trust who will listen, and not preach.

    In the Big Book the word sponsor is not used once in the main text…

    What should I do?

    • Publius Ceasar

      Don’t feel bad – I went through 6 or 7 “sponsors” and not a single one of them would deviate into deeper issues than simply “work the step” even to the point of believing in something that one cannot believe. Follow the Book and the 12 and 12 word for word or you’re dead is their essential message.

    • John Marden

      for myself, it has taken me years to réalise the wisdom in the hard core AA sponsorship “you must do this” approach but we can find other schools of suggestion type….. my understanding of why in principle I need a sponsor, is that part of the malady is our strong human tendency to live in self illusion thus it is better to get outside input …. we all can see what others need to do to fix their lives , but need to listen to others to learn what we are being blind to in ourselves. It is a simple program for complicated people, and when we réalise this, we see the wisdom in just doing the simple things we are told to do. We would have learned the lessons much faster by shutting down our natural tendency to rebel, believe that we are different from other folks, ad maybe we don’t really need to follow suggestions. It is suggested that one pulls the chord on the parachute before the end of the free fall. After my 1st sponsor thanked me for keeping him sober when he moved away, I began to understand that it is through teaching we learn, and that none of us want to do it, but learn that it does in fact work. A good sponsor helps us find the right path to take and it is a two way relationship. That is my take. Get a sponsor – full stop.

      • Gerard

        The ideas of service and sharing your time and experience are central to the AA philosophy. This is of course another aspect of spirituality and personal growth, and can be very difficult for those who don’t yet grasp the fundamental truth that addiction encourages self-centeredness and personal stagnation. You are absolutely correct about the two way relationship, by embracing our roles as both student and teacher we can come to understand ourselves.

        • Dan

          The original poster, James, said that his experience of sponsorship was one of preaching and not listening. This is not uncommon in 12-step groups, to the point of outright authoritarianism in some cases.

          It is possible for people to know that addiction “encourages self-centeredness and personal stagnation” without having embraced the 12-step philosophy. It is possible for people to find a spiritual plane outside of 12-step groups. It also possible that people work the program and still don’t find what they need. In fact, this is the case much more often than not. My hope is that 12-step proponents will have the spiritual presence and wherewithal to recognize and acknowledge this.

          The founder of the SMART Recovery program said that they have no problem recommending 12-step groups to those who aren’t responding to SMART, and in fact they often do so. This is a very enlightened response. Has anyone in AA or any of the myriad other 12-step groups ever recommended another course of action to someone who clearly isn’t responding to your methods? This would seem to be the spiritual thing to do, as opposed to stubbornly proclaiming that it’s your way or the highway. In fact, that is the addictive brain at work, refusing to acknowledge anything outside its tiny world. As they say in the program, keep coming…

    • Nicholas Mirusso

      There is nobody more full of sh&t, than a sponsor. It’s arrogant. They are Guru’s not mental health professionals. They relapse. They are not people to bow down or submit to.

      • Dominica Applegate

        sponsors can be quite helpful… of course, they are human and have defects and sometimes, they do relapse… but you’re right in that we shouldn’t put them on pedestals. a good sponsor can come alongside and guide…but each person is responsible for his/her own recovery.

  • saintlybastard

    Perhaps the program might stop chanting this tired little gem at every meeting for the sake of those unable to thrive in that “simple”, so thay can seek the “wisdom” to find a different path, instead of “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result: “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average”.

  • dbatjr

    What I find amusing is the chain smoking, coffee drinking AA member who takes such pride in their years of sobriety. We can’t even agree on the definition of sobriety.

    • milkyway_dingo

      You do realize that coffee & cigarettes are an entirely different beast?
      Keeping aside the fact that a heck of a lot of people drink coffee, while cigarettes *will* kill you, they do so slowly & over the course of decades.

      All cigarettes ‘do’ is make you want to smoke more cigarettes. Yes, it will eventually kill you, that is, however, far different to what alcoholism will do.

      Alcoholism will destroy you. From the inside out, & everything & everyone around you.
      You will be hard pressed to find stories of excessive coffee drinking costing people their jobs, or chain smoking taking away somebodies home & family.

      It sounds to me like your impression & understanding of alcoholism, as well as the stereotypes you portray, come from no real experience, but from watching too much TV.

      Finally, your own definition of ‘sobriety’ is quite irrelevant. Go look it up in a dictionary. No one with any sense of reality would consider cigarettes & coffee a breach of ones own sobriety.

      Did I just see 3 goats run away?

      • Nicholas Mirusso

        Nicotine is a stimulant, and a drug. Caffeine is a stimulant as well. Both mind altering substances. Suboxone is also a drug, and a mind altering substance. It comes down to purpose of the use. Recovery is balance. Cigarette and coffee addiction is not recovery. Denial is a bitch. Thank you for bringing it to light.

  • Jim Shoger

    Funny how AA always seems take over any discussion of recovery even though the recovery topic may originally have been non AA. Serious research on it needs to be done. I believe it is a dangerous cult. It’s not based on science. It’s not based on the bible. It isn’t religious, it’s “spiritual”, whatever that means. It’s success rate isn’t that good. The treatment industry seriously needs to take a more scientific approach.

  • Kenny_Ray

    My name is Kenny Ray and I am an alcoholic. I understand the misconceptions of AA – my first couple of years in, I probably perpetuated most of them. First, let me address the ‘cult’ issues. There are 3 arguments I can make: 1) One of AA’s mottos is ‘Keep Coming Back. Now I’m no expert on cults, but those ‘religious’ cults from The People’s Temple of Jim Jones or the Branch Davidians of David Koresh, or even Tom Cruise’s beloved Church of Scientology have proven consistently that they frown on people leaving in the first place….not much room for an exit strategy there! 2) Not one member (or self-identifying AA) is required to put one single cent in the basket. Any contribution is completely voluntary. Most cults require much more than that – anything from substantial portions of personal income of their members, to signing over of real estate holdings and other items belonging to their congregants for the further support of their cause(s). 3) Cults require their members to swear loyalty to whomever their deity of choice may be, along with a rigid structure which only seems to benefit the leaders of their church. AA on the other hand encourages members to concede that there could be a power greater than themselves – a spiritual entity maybe, but one they can understand. AA does not subscribe to brainwashing, however on a lighter note, my brain could use a good scrubbing from time to time.

    I personally am of the Christian faith – now even in the reddest of conservative areas in the great state of Texas where I live, our AA group has numerous people which attend of various faiths – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Athiests, Agnostics, Sun worshippers, tree huggers, Wiccans among others. All have been welcome with open arms and are contributors to my recovery. Fact is, my Christian devotion became even deeper through working the steps and my understanding of God (as I understand Him) became clearer as well as my personal walk with Him.

    I was not just someone who overdid it on occasions. I am a blackout, fall-down, piss-in-my-pants alcoholic. I drank up to a fifth and a half of bourbon every day, 7 days per week. I drank at work, I drank at home. I drank before church and I sure as hell drank afterwards. I never went to sleep, I passed out – I never woke up, I came to. My first three years in AA, I couldn’t stay sober. My last two years of drinking was not out of enjoyment, but out of necessity – I had to fight the DTs with more alcohol.

    When I hit bottom, and believe me – if you are an alcoholic, you will find many bottoms – I was finally willing to accept the lifestyle change of the 12 steps. It is a simple program for complex people, but it is by no means easy. And yes, you only
    get out of it what you put into it. I wish for the best for all those which suffer, I can relate. If you don’t get help through AA, please get help somewhere.

  • Lisa Depoe Duke

    Don’t forget that the founder of MM killed a father and his young daughter in a DWI wreck and then committed suicide soon after she admitted her own program was not working for her.

    • Dan

      The woman you are referring to had a name: Audrey Conn. Also don’t forget that she had been attending AA meetings at the time of the accident. She was too ashamed to admit it to her Moderation Management group, but she had in fact gone back to AA because she recognized that her drinking was out of control. Despite her attendance at AA, she still succumbed to her demons, unfortunately taking two lives in the process.

  • RA Martin

    That is great that you keep trying. Good!
    One question – have you tried to get therapy as treatment for the PTSD? There are methods that could be very helpful.
    Keep trying!

    • BrooklynSWAMI

      I have been in PTSD therapy off and on for 25 years. I have no choice but to keep trying, I will die if I continue to relapse. It’s scary to be an alcoholic.

  • me

    Federal Courts have ruled that 12 step programs are religious based and cannot be enforced as recovery. I believe them to be negative in nature with giving negative labels to people. I feel that I have a bad habit that I can change by changing my thinking.

  • Rick Lilly

    I’ll admit that I’ve never done a street drug in my life or had an issue with alcohol, but I’ve attended a couple 12-step groups to get insight and knowledge into the thinking and behaviors of a 25 yr old I met with a Percocet/Heroine addiction by hearing the stories of other addicts in the groups. What I observed in the groups are individuals who seem to be ‘looking but never finding”, hopping from one hospital to another, one support group to another, one jail or prison to another. Christ is really the only answer in my opinion that will lead an individual to sobriety–A Time Magazine article writes that Teen Challenge, a Christian residential program(where I had an internship 30 years ago), has a 70 percent success rate(Teen Challenge themselves claim up to 87 percent success) , far greater than any secular residential program, according to the magazine. Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step, has a high success rate. Mission Gate in Missouri, a Christ-centered after care program for those coming out of prison, many with drug issues, shows State statistics in which 8 or 9 out of 10 never go back to prison who complete the program in comparison with 8 or 9 out of 10 ending up back in prison who don’t go through the program. People will find any excuse not to turn to God–and I don’t mean “God as we understand him/it to be”–but making Jesus Christ Lord of their lives. So as far as I’m concerned, people can keep flocking to AA, NA, HA, etc , sitting around tables, flapping their mouths til their blue in the face, and walk away the same as when they arrived, because in my opinion AA, NA, HA, etc are useless if Christ is not the Higher Power that they’re trusting in for true deliverance. People would rather sulk in their sin, some living their atheist lifestyles, resisting and hating God, and then wonder why their life is worse than an Intervention episode with chaos around them. God looks down with love in His eyes, watching many of his creatures ‘go around the mountain’ again and again, like sheep without a shepherd, wandering aimlessly and in the dark looking but never finding, and waits for the day that his creature will turn to Him, become a child of God rather than a creature of God, realizing that He’s been the answer and what the person’s been looking for all along.

    • Dan

      Your post reeks of a self-righteous, know-it-all attitude. Very unchristlike indeed.

    • Heywood Zuckblomie

      * heroin

    • HARRY S

      Well you know what they say about opinions, right?

    • Roy Boothe

      I just read ur comment Mr.R.Lilly. I have to tell you that I am currently going to AA for my alcohol and drug addictions. My higher power is Jesus Christ my Lord and my savior. I still struggle with this stronghold in my life some days are better than others. There is a local Celebrate Recovery Group in my area on Tuesday nights and I think I will go this Tuesday. When I do attend AA meetings I make no apologies about my higher power being Jesus Christ. I stand on this promise that the Lord is faithful and he will surely finish the good work that he has started in me. Thank you for your opinion have a blessed day.

    • Nicholas Mirusso

      Christ is the answer? Really? Where is the evidence for that? And by the way if Christ is the answer, why do so many relapse with Christ watching with his arms folded? An imaginary father figure only works for who it works for. Don’t speak for others.

      • Dominica Applegate

        Christ may be the answer for some… but not all. We are a diverse people with thousands of beliefs and many paths to recovery. To each their own to discover what works for them….

      • Althea

        In addition to the question “Where is the evidence that Christ is the only answer?” I’d like to ask: Where is the evidence in Christ?

    • Nicholas Ison

      Isn’t all of this about getting better. Addiction has no prejudices.

      • Ron Baldasseroni

        Amen to that. (Pardon my religious reference) Read Abraham Lincoln’s response to critical inquiries of Horace Greely editor of the New York Tribune newspaper in 1862. Preservation of the Union was Mr. Lincoln’s primary purpose, and he was willing to do whatever he had to do in order to achieve it. And moreover, he wasn’t even apologizing for it, nor was he trying to be politically correct. As an addict/ alcoholic, can I make staying clean and sober my primary purpose? And if I claim to do so, what am I willing to do in order to achieve it? Or more importantly, what am I not willing to do? Have an open mind about something I have preconceived notions about? Seems like a small sacrifice in comparison to the sought after gain.

    • Ron Baldasseroni

      That is incredibly interesting and inspiring. Where could one find the stats indicated in this post. Thanks so much for the information.

  • Gary Stearman

    Hi Everyone.
    Any path that helps recovery is good. I am a New SMART facilitator, and the CBT approach of SMART resides good with me. The meetings have a quick check in process, followed by a group discussion of what tools to use. War stories and labels are discouraged.
    AA though has i large community and i also attend some meetings. I have met loads of good people and having sober friends is important to a sustained recovery. however i will probably never complete the steps.
    I am also a life-coach and the needing of a balanced life is the starting block of life-coaching. the balanced life subject is also the 4th and final step of SMART recovery but doesn’t go into much depth.
    This workbook is available on http://www.lifeaction.uk and is free

  • http://mylifeas3d.blogspot.com/ DeanDD

    BrooklynSWAMI… SMART Recovery meetings are a nice alternative to AA. They also offer online meetings, which may be something you’d want to check out. You can find information on their online meetings at this link: link to smartrecovery.org

    • BrooklynSWAMI

      Thanks Dean, It has improved some and I’m still sober. I still go to AA meetings but I don’t pressure myself to go everyday or multiple times a day. I go when I feel like it or I’m having a particularly bad day. I still feel like an outsider there because it can be cliquey. I have met people in AA sober decades who never have had a sponsor or worked the steps. I am beginning to work step 4 with my therapist and I find that helpful. I find the toughest thing to deal with is loneliness because i stay away from anyone who uses alcohol which eliminates a lot of people. I find that the more I stay busy and make a point to accomplish things each day the better I am. I looked up Smart Recovery and they don’t have a meeting near me but thanks anyway for your concern.

      • http://mylifeas3d.blogspot.com/ DeanDD

        SMART has online meetings. Just in case that interests you at all.

      • Kim Lane

        Share your feelings about AA cliquey-ness, having been in AA on and off since 1986. In addition AA is regularly infiltrated by FBI and police using meetings to inform on people and I no longer have any trust in attendees honoring the “anonymous” protection that used to exist.

  • Dave Mem

    Bradford West Yorkshire
    Cannabis, Spice and Legal Highs Group
    User led, abstinence based support group

    Shipley Fire Station 1 Shipley Fields Rd, Shipley BD18 2DG
    6:00 – 8:00 pm
    link to google.co.uk

    Pelican House 10 Currer Street, Bradford, BD1 5BA
    12:30 – 3:00 pm
    link to google.co.uk

    TEL: 01274 715 860
    link to twubs.com

  • Linda Robinson

    You have the wrong name for the person for Celebrate Recovery. His name is RICK Warren but he is not the founder. John Baker is the founder. And the program uses the same 12-steps as everyone else except we believe that Jesus is the only Higher Power and we use scripture to back up the step.

  • Ida k

    Check out the audiobook versions of Alan Carr’s the easyway to quit….. obnoxious constant reprogramming is helping me with my ptsd related substance issues.
    Also, other audibook memoirs of recovery can help. Marshall Rosenberg, Jackson Galaxy are in my loop and are great.

  • Frank

    Folks may want to consider TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, as an adjunct to groups and therapy. Plenty about it on the web. It is now established at major medical institutions.

  • BrooklynSWAMI

    I’ve been in and out of AA for the last seven years. I attend meetings that sometimes have as little as three people in it and as many as forty. I’ve never had a sponsor nor do I want one because they are not professionals but some people who have been there awhile think they are. I use AA when I need to vent which is not often because I go to a trained therapist. AA has too many cliques and that makes a newcomer feel left out even though they say that the newcomer is the most important person.

    • Mary Williams

      Look for the similarities, not the differences.

  • Mary Williams


  • placer

    My experience, working with newcomers, is that many alcoholics just do not want to get sober. They do not want to get sober, even if it means their drinking will kill them. There is no program out there that can help someone who does not want help.

    • Dan

      “There is no program out there that can help someone who does not want help.”


    • Dan

      “There is no program out there that can help someone who does not want help.”

      I agree. I would simply add that for those who do genuinely desire help, there are many paths. And if a given path does not feel right to you, for whatever reason, try another. Do not be intimated by those who say “it’s our way or the highway.” They live in a very small world – much like active addicts and alcoholics.

  • placer

    In my experience, it’s the “you can’t drink moderately” bit which doesn’t appeal to most alcoholics. This is supported in Zemore 2017 (PMC5193234), where people were trying things besides AA often times were trying to moderately drink, even in non-AA programs which forbid that (notably LifeRing).

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