Alcoholism Self Help: Is It Really Possible?

Medically Reviewed By Nicole Arzt | Last Edited : May 7, 2021 | 4 Sources



There are many resources out there for those worried about the drinking of loved ones or who want to deal with their own drinking problems


There are plenty of alcoholism self help resources out there that claim to give you the secret to quitting drinking. Unfortunately most of these are not up to the job and are merely produced in the hope of making money from those in pain.

If you decide you want to quit drinking, it’s important to do your research when examining different resources. Be careful of anything that makes an overarching promise. Addiction is complex, and most experts agree that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for care.  

In general, you should seek resources that teach you about understanding triggers, setting boundaries, and managing cravings. 

Of course, the people creators/sellers of these resources need to be financially rewarded for their efforts, but they need to also offer real solutions.

All the products you see on this page cost money (and some quite a lot) but what sets these apart are that they offer real hope and assistance for those wishing to do something about their drinking. We have personally reviewed all the alcoholism self help resources listed below and they all come highly recommended.

We have also included on this page resources for those who drink moderately and want to do so healthily and without risk. Here at the Alcoholism Guide we do not demonize alcohol, used moderately alcohol is of great benefit and we believe that it is everyone's right to drink and enjoy it.

Alcoholism Self Help E-books

Stop or Moderate Your Drinking

Today, there are numerous books and resources you can use to help moderate or stop drinking. Keep in mind that no book can offer a perfect cure. Read at your own discretion and remember that recovery is a unique process. If you have any concerns before starting a particular program, consult with your doctor or therapist.

Do you want help with moderating your drinking? Are you worried that if you continue the way you are you might become dependent on alcohol? Have you been told that Alcoholics Anonymous is the answer? WRONG! AA is for alcoholics, not problem drinkers. "Stop Drinking Alcohol" is an e-book that gives problem drinkers the tools to either return to normal drinking (staying within moderate drinking guidelines) or stop altogether WITHOUT the need for the 12 steps. I highly recommend it as a viable alternative for binge drinkers wishing to cut down on their alcohol consumption.

Spiritual Recovery That Isn't AA

Addiction Free Forever outlines a method of treating alcohol dependence that emphasizes the spiritual but not the shame and powerlessness associated with the 12 steps The core philosophy behind this system is that you can't expect someone to give up alcohol if they have nothing to replace it with. One of the best books out there on beating alcoholism dependence and one that has earned much praise from those it has helped.

Coping With An Alcoholic

Loving an alcoholic is one of the most painful things you will ever have to cope with. Yet, it doesn't need to be, C.P.Lehman in his book, Help Me! I'm In Love With An Addict gives you the strategies that will enable you to find happiness and get your life back on track...as well as other skills that are crucial when attempting to cope with an alcohol dependent

The Naked Mind 

The Naked Mind provides a practical solution for treating both the psychological and neurological factors of alcoholism. While sharing her own candid story, she incorporates scientific and social anecdotes throughout her book. This book can help anyone who wants to feel free from the restraints of alcohol.

Quit Like A Woman

In her revolutionary book, Holly Whitaker unpacks the nuances of female-focused recovery. Her work highlights her own experiences with feeling the need to drink at every social event. It also targets the sneaky marketing campaigns designed to target women. Once Holly got sober, she felt the profound need to support other women. Her recovery program emphasizes community, resilience, and strength, and her book promises to change the way you look at alcohol.

The Addiction Recovery Skills Workbook In her interactive workbook, Dr. Suzette Glasner-Edwards draws upon cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, and motivational interviewing (MI) to help people struggling with alcoholism. Her workbook focuses on balancing neuroscience with psychoeducation with reasonable recommendations for recovery. If you want some practical tips to work on right now, this workbook is worth a try.

Alcoholism Self Help
Resources For Moderate Drinkers

Drink Moderately And Stay Healthy

Over 40% of Americans are clinically obese. Being overweight or obese can significantly increase your risk for medical conditions, such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. While drinking alcohol does not inherently raise your chances of obesity, many drinks are full of empty calories.

Some drinks can contain up to 1000 calories. Drinking just a few of these beverages a week can ramp the risk of gaining weight. Additionally, some people try to restrict their diets throughout the day by eating less- so they can drink more. This strategy can lead to malnourishment, fatigue, and additional weight problems.

But do not despair, as it is possible to continue enjoying alcohol AND lose weight at the same time. How To Drink While Dieting shows you how to drink, stay healthy and lose weight.... all at the same time. With over 200 information-packed pages, this is the definitive guide to drinking while dieting.

There's More To Alcoholism Help Than AA

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

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.

Untrue.

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.

SMART Recovery

Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) is an international fellowship of mutual-support groups that offers help with alcoholism.  SMART Recovery is one of a growing number of AA alternatives that offer help with alcoholism.

  • It is non-spiritual. Explicitly secular in fact
  • The world of reason and science give us the answers to alcoholism, Not G(g)od
  • Willpower and self-empowerment help overcome alcoholism, not a higher power
  • SMART Recovery uses tools and techniques adapted from the world of business management to help with alcoholism and defeating the cravings that accompany recovery
  • Participants meet weekly to guide and help each other surmount the life challenges brought about by any addiction.
  • Positivity is encouraged as opposed to the negativity of AA. e.g. There is no need to look for fault in ourselves, make amends to those we have hurt and continually identify ourselves as an addict/alcoholic.
  • Meetings are not substance or activity specific. SMART Recovery groups are open to those addicted to anything and everything.
  • Utilizes elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in order to control negative thoughts and emotions
  • The organization aims to help individuals build independence, promote education in meetings, teach methods for coping and change, and grow as new scientific innovations and knowledge for addiction therapy is discovered.

Some of the fundamental ways in which it differs from Alcoholics Anonymous are:

Seven Stages of Change

SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training.

The SMART Recovery system is based on what they call the seven stages of change:

1. Pre-contemplation – This stage encompasses the behaviors that brought the person to this point, up to the moment when they realized that they had a problem

2. Contemplation – At this stage, the person knows there is a problem and they begin to figure out both the advantages and disadvantages they receive from their addictive behaviors

3. Determination/Preparation – The person will develop a Change Plan Worksheet which will outline the steps they need and are prepared to take in order to change their addictive behaviors

4. Action – In this phase, the person will attend meetings, get professional help if needed and make every attempt to rid themselves of their addiction

5. Maintenance – After several months in the Action stage, a person's behaviors have changed so this stage focuses on maintaining the new behaviors, such as not drinking

6. Relapse – This is often a part of the process, whether we like it or not. Instead of making it a shameful thing to feel guilty over, SMART Recovery is one of the few organizations that actively plan on how to handle relapse

7. Termination – This stage may never come for some people and that's okay but this is the point where a person has stayed sober for a long time and feels they no longer need support

What To Expect At SMART Meetings

Much like Alcoholics Anonymous and all the other support groups for addiction, group meetings of recovering addicts are an essential element of this group.

Meetings follow a set format as follows:

1. Welcome and Introduction

2. Check-in

3. Agenda Setting

4. Working Time

5. Pass the Hat(donations)

6. Check out and closing

Online meetings are also available for those who can't attend a live one. They also follow the same set format as their offline counterparts.

There is a fair degree of flexibility within each individual meeting and thus they can vary considerably.

Essentially meetings are free to attend, however without donations they would not be able to function.

There are over 800 face-to-face meetings worldwide, click here for more details and a worldwide meeting list. For a schedule of online meetings click here.

AA Alternative

As stated above, one reason that SMART Recovery is billed as an AA alternative is that many alcoholics are uncomfortable with the religious or spiritual nature of AA.

While the group is non-denominational, there is still an intense focus on a “higher power” and many people simply don't want to deal with that.

Instead, SMART Recovery is completely secular and based on scientific principles only.

Of all the AA Alternatives out there, SMART Recovery is perhaps the most secular. It makes no mention of spirituality or religion, its methods are taken from the world of management, and science and reason are its ultimate authority.

If you're looking for a true alternative to Alcoholic Anonymous to help with alcoholism, then you can't go wrong with SMART Recovery.

How SMART Helps

The SMART Recovery meeting format is organized and straightforward. The facilitators are trained to adhere to the SMART Recovery principles and program to help the attendees change their behavior.

Some of them have already had addictive problems, and some have not. That does not seem to make a difference, nonetheless. Keep in mind that SMART Recovery is a mental health as well as educational program, concentrated on improving human behavior. SMART meetings are meaningful but usually fun. We don’t bring up the past, because we could no longer do anything about it. However, we can change the present and the future. SMART meeting discussions concentrate on how to apply SMART’s tools for improvement so that you could go on to live a more connected and productive life.

Help With Alcoholism
Supporting Concerned Others Also

This year the group also began an online support group for family and friends of those involved in the program.

Called Concerned Significant Others, this new group is similar to that of Al-Anon, where family and friends can learn how to best cope with their loved one's behaviors. Click here for more information on 'Concerned Significant Others' and details of their online meeting.

'Concerned Significant Others' is a secular support group that is an alternative to Al-Anon, a 12-step group that provides spiritual help for family and friends of alcoholics.

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...



Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


Hello!

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



Sources:  

Adult Obesity Facts provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

American Family Physician. Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder. March 15, 2016. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/0315/p457.html

Facial Flushing: Should You Worry If Your Face Turns Red When You Drink? Provided by the Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/facial-flushing-should-you-worry-if-your-face-turns-red-when-you-drink/ 

Harvard Health Publishing. How Alcoholics Anonymous works. July 2007. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/How_Alcoholics_Anonymous_works

Inner Change. SMART Recovery. https://www.innerchange.com/mental-health-education/types-of-therapy/smart-recovery/ 

JAMA Network. Accuracy of the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test for Screening of Alcoholism in Patients of a Medical Department. September 1989. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/612232

Progress in addiction treatment: from one-size-fits-all to medications and treatment matching by the National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24580022/

Self-help strategies for quitting drinking provided by Rethinking Drinking: https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Thinking-about-a-change/support-for-quitting/Self-Help-Strategies-For-Quitting.aspx  

Smart Recovery. About SMART Recovery.  https://www.smartrecovery.org/about-us/

Smart Recovery. The Science and History of SMART Recovery. 2017. https://www.smartrecovery.org/the-science-and-history-of-smart-recovery/

The Atlantic. The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous. April 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/04/the-irrationality-of-alcoholics-anonymous/386255/



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