Alcoholism Help - With Or 
Without AA

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : December 05, 
| 5 Sources

There is an assumption, held by many in the medical profession including doctors and therapists, that if you want help for alcoholism, your only hope is to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and if you want to stop drinking for good, then AA has to become (and this is no exaggeration) your second home.

Fortunately, this is just plain wrong.

Firstly, Alcoholics Anonymous has an appalling success rate [1] and, secondly, there are many other ways to quit drinking without turning to the 12 steps.

Unfortunately, the power to choose your preferred alcoholism treatment is seriously restricted. Restricted not because of a lack of alternatives to AA, but because information about other treatment options is lost in the noise of the 12 steps.

It has been shown that alcoholics who have an active and informed choice [2] in their alcoholism treatment, are much more successful in their recovery.

This site is an attempt to address this lack of choice by outlining all the options (and that includes the 12 step method) open to alcoholics and problem drinkers who wish to access alcoholism help.

Among the treatment options are...

  • ...secular alcoholism support groups that promote abstention
  • ...alcoholism support groups that promote drinking in moderation and/or harm reduction
  • ... woman-focused support groups and treatment centers.
  • ...drugs, like Naltrexone and Acamprosate, that can assist you in your battle against alcohol dependency (drugs that AA frowns upon due to the belief of many members that utilizing medicine is somehow not 'real' recovery)
  • ...medications that some say can cure alcoholism
  • ...treatment centers that don't use the 12 steps as part of their treatment regimen
  • ...herbal remedies to help you cut down on your alcohol consumption
  • ...holistic alcohol treatment that can help you deal with your drinking problem

AlcoholismPhoto by Tammy Gann

Why are AA alternatives rarely heard of? Is it because they don't work?

There are many reasons as to why the programs/drugs above are little-known, but it is mainly because AA and its 12-step method was the first systematic program to treat alcohol dependency; a condition that had proved resistant to much the medical world could throw at it. On top of this it seemed successful, there were many stories of how AA had turned individual's lives around.

In reality, however, it is not that successful. Statistics are hard to come by due to the anonymity principle of the group. AA's own figures, however, show that only 5% still attend meetings after one year [3]. This kind of success rate would be unacceptable in any other branch of medicine/therapy, yet AA seems to go from strength to strength.

Another major issue with AA is that many feel alienated by the spiritual aspect of the program. Their set of guidelines call for a spiritual transformation. It can be hard to balance the higher power, so important for recovery in AA with the secular world most live in.

These 'unfortunates' as they are charitably called in the AA literature [4], are destined (according to AA and many working in the addiction field) to a life of depression, despondency and, ultimately, death. The only way out is AA.


There are alternatives to AA, and good ones too. Many are statistically much more successful [5]. Do not despair if you or a loved one is alcohol dependent. There is alcoholism help and it doesn't have to be Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous does work for some people and that must be acknowledged. One of its main strengths is its accessibility, there's a meeting in almost every town. Another thing, AA got me sober, and for that I am grateful. But I moved on; it's not the long term solution for me and it doesn't have to be for you either.

For those worried about a loved one...

This site is not just for those suffering with an alcohol problem, if someone you care about has a drinking issue and you think they need alcoholism help then then take a look at some of these pages...

  • Discover and learn to identify the signs of alcoholism.
  • Complete an alcoholism test to see if someone you care about is drinking at dangerous levels.
  • Learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous and how it provides alcoholism help.
  • Read about AA Alternatives that do not adhere to the 12 step method.
  • Identify the damage that alcoholic drinking can do to those close to you.
  • Hear about alcoholism medication used in the treatment of alcohol dependence and new drugs that are being hailed as miracle cures for addictive drinking.

AA Not for You?

Although Alcoholics Anonymous worked wonders for others, some alcoholics believe that it’s not for them. If you are among those who are looking for treatment options instead of AA, there’s help available. Please contact a dedicated treatment provider today.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


The Atlantic. The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous. April 2015.

American Family Physician. Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder. March 15, 2016.

JAMA Network. Accuracy of the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test for Screening of Alcoholism in Patients of a Medical Department. September 1989.


  • [1]
  • [2] Hester and Miller, Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches (2nd Edition) 1995
  • [3] Alcoholics Anonymous ID # 5M/12-90/TC summarized in Vince Fox's Addiction, Change, and Choice (1993)
  • [4] A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, page 58.
  • [5] Hester and Miller, Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches (2nd Edition) 1995

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