You may be reading this article because you have come to accept that you struggle with your drinking and may be an alcoholic, and you're hoping to find alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous. You did your research and saw that the common recommendation is to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. So you went, maybe it was not a good fit, maybe you need additional support, or maybe your community has limited access to meetings.
Whatever the reason, there are many individuals who seek elsewhere for support when it comes to their recovery. While AA meetings are a common path for many, it is not the only option for social support.
With this article, we will take a brief look at barriers that hinder someone from connecting and/or finding benefit from AA meetings as well as other options that you can try.
There are several reasons that a person may feel as though Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is not a good fit for them and their recovery.
One barrier could be the lack of access to meetings in your community. While AA meetings can be located around the world, however there are rural areas that may not have many meetings to offer.
Other communities may have meetings available, however you may have a timing conflict. Examples of this could be working, lack of child care or schooling.
Alcoholic Anonymous meetings are available online, however that alone can be a barrier. Some may not have access to reliable internet to access the meetings which would make them unable to attend.
Another barrier to online meetings would be if you have a hard time using technology. While some of the options for online meetings are designed to be simple, some may still struggle with using the technology or platforms used.
A common barrier to Alcoholics Anonymous is the use of the word “God” throughout the AA literature. Many individuals do not identify as religious, and may find that this word is a turn off when attending meetings, reading The Big Book or working the 12 Steps.
Some individuals find that the environment of the AA meetings is not a good fit. For example, after attending a meeting some individuals feel as though meetings are “cult like”. It is important to note that there are many individuals who take AA meetings seriously, and view meetings as a main source of support. Try not to take their passion negatively, their recovery is theirs and yours is yours.
There are several alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. You will notice that the groups listed below do share in the use of social support similarly to AA meetings.
We know that addiction can pull addicts and alcoholics away from their family, friends and loved ones. It is an isolating disease, which is why the use of social support can be quite impactful for recovery. Some view it as a necessity for a healthy recovery.
· SMART Recovery: SMART Recovery is different than AA in the sense that it is designed to use several psychotherapies to use for its educational purpose. Worksheets and group discussions are used to help those in recovery gain insight into their addiction and recovery.
To find a SMART Recovery meeting near you, you can visit their website, and place your location in the search bar.
· LifeRing Secular Recovery: LifeRing is a group that utilizes positive advice and encourages the use of mindfulness. This program is built on the belief that we can overcome our addiction and are not powerless to it. Quite different then messages we would here in an AA meeting.
LifeRing helps its members identify their own tools that will help them in their recovery.
To find a LifeRing meeting, you can visit their website and search for meetings around you. Keep in mind that the availability for in person meetings are a bit limited compared to AA meetings, so it may be necessary to attend online meetings.
· Women for Sobriety (WFS): You may have guessed from the title, this group is solely for women. It serves to empower women, and stay away from the notion that they are powerless over their addiction. The group has a positive tone to it, and uses positive affirmations and statements to enable this.
For some women, the ability to engage in a social support group that is made up of females can help develop a sense of safety and comfort within the group.
To find a Women for Sobriety meeting, you can visit their website and use their meeting finder tool.
· Rational Recovery: Rational Recovery meetings utilize a specific method for its members to recognize how their thoughts lead to their use of drugs and alcohol. This is called the Addictive Voice Recognition Technique. This tends to be beneficial for individuals who are looking for “tools” they can use in their recovery, compared to support groups.
· Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS): A key difference between the Secular Organization for Sobriety and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is that SOS does not use or encourage the use of a Higher Power. This is a solid alternative for those who struggle with the use of God throughout the AA literature as well as the recognition of a Higher Power in Alcoholics Anonymous.
At this time, their website does not offer a search tool at this moment when finding a local meeting. However, you can choose to contact them through the website and ask for direction in finding a meeting near you.
· Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support (HAMS): HAMS is a non-judgmental approach to recovery that aims to meet people “where they are” in their recovery. This means not pushing them in one direction or the other, rather allowing them to be as they are. This approach works to reduce the consequences associated with heavy drinking and drug use.
To find a list of HAMS meetings, you can visit their website to view a list of where meetings are offered. Their website also offers links to various HAMS literature and other resources.
· Moderation Management: Similar to the HAMS meetings mentioned above, Moderation Management meetings also take a harm reduction approach. This group is appropriate for individuals who would like to reduce how much they drink. This would not be an effective group for someone who is already struggling with an alcohol or other substance addiction. Members set their own goals and use the Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, to work towards them.
To find a Moderation Management meeting, you can visit their website and see the states where meetings are offered. There are phone meetings as well as video meetings available if you do not have one locally.
Whichever meeting or group works for you, works for you. As stated earlier, everyone’s addiction and recovery is specific to them. What is important, is that you are seeking help for something that you are struggling with.
For many, their recovery journey also includes some professional help. This may be detox, an inpatient or an outpatient addiction program. For more on other treatment options, please follow the link.
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