Whether it’s your first time getting clean and sober, or you’re giving it another try, you’ve probably heard about one of the most well-known fellowships, Alcoholics Anonymous. AA is the oldest sober community group and follows strict guidelines from “The Big Book.” The literature follows a 12-Step process to sobriety through God or a “higher power.” Although AA is the oldest 12-Step fellowship, it’s certainly not the only way to get clean and sober. To learn more about alternatives to AA, NA, and other 12 Step groups, read on.
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)
Alcoholics Anonymous was established in 1935. At the time, only men were allowed to be members. AA traditionalized the anonymity of a sober community and follows, “but one primary purpose - to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.” The program utilizes the 12-step process to recovery:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Nearly a century later, women are more than welcome in AA. There even are women-only groups available.
While AA has worked for many people, some people may feel as though they need a sober community more relevant to their own personal struggles. There are many alternatives and it’s important to find the right sobriety group for yourself because it is your personal path to a better life. Click here for more information about AA.
NA (Narcotics Anonymous)
While AA was originally created for people struggling with addiction from alcohol, many struggling with addiction to drugs and prescription medications felt the program didn’t pertain to them. So, Narcotics Anonymous was born.
Narcotics Anonymous still follows a 12-Step process to recovery, but it has a stronger focus on the individual as they direct themselves towards recovery from all addictions--not just alcohol. The 12 step process, similar to AA’s, NA follows these guidelines to sobriety:
- We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We can believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Click here for more information on NA.
Other 12-Step Groups
There are numerous other 12-Step fellowships that follow guidelines and practices that are similar to AA and NA, but are focused on different types of addiction. Some may find it more helpful to attend 12-Step groups that are specific to their substance of choice, or others such as:
- Co-Dependents Anonymous
- Emotions Anonymous
- Food Addicts Anonymous
- Gamblers Anonymous
- Sexaholics Anonymous
- Debtors Anonymous
...and many more.
While 12-Step groups may work for some, others may feel uncomfortable with bringing spirituality into their recovery or basing their recovery around the concept of a “higher power.” There is more than one path to recovery, and if bringing a higher power into your journey doesn’t align with your personal philosophies, there are some alternatives.
Similar to AA and NA, SMART Recovery provides regular meetings in a group setting, where you can share your struggles with substance abuse. SMART recovery is a non-profit research-based program established in 1994.
The SMART program believes in a scientific, secular approach to recovery rather than looking to a “higher power” for guidance as AA and NA do. SMART bases their approach to addiction through a 4-point program:
- Obtaining and maintaining motivation
- Learning to manage urges
- Handling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors
- Finding and striking balance in life
Click here for more information on SMART Recovery.
Women for Sobriety:
WFS or Women for Society was the first women-only alcohol abuse program. The program encourages women to take control of their thoughts, thus taking control of their actions of addiction. They implement holistic medicine and mindfulness techniques to empower women to love themselves and do good within their lives. The WFS literature is based on the 13 Statements.
- I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.
I now take charge of my life and my well-being. I accept the responsibility.
- Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.
- Happiness is a habit I am developing.
Happiness is created, not waited for.
- Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.
I now better understand my problems. I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.
- I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.
- Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.
- Love can change the course of my world.
Caring is all-important.
- The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.
- The past is gone forever.
No longer am I victimized by the past. I am a new woman.
- All Love Given Returns.
I am learning to know that I am loved.
- Enthusiasm Is My Daily Exercise.
I treasure the moments of my New Life.
- I am a competent woman, and I have much to give life.
This is what I am, and I shall know it always.
- I am responsible for myself and for my actions.
I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts, and my life.
Click here for more information on WSF.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety or S.O.S. is a non-profit organization established in 1985. The program prides itself upon having a completely secular approach for anyone wanting to stop their drug and/or alcohol abuse.
The program believes in the continuous research of addiction and adapting sobriety approaches to newer scientific evidence that is discovered. S.O.S utilizes rational thought and responsibility of actions to propel members down the path of sobriety.
Their literature is based on “The Sobriety Priority.” It uses three elements to combat the cycle of addiction:
- Chemical need (at the physiological level)
- Learned habit (chronic drinking/using)
- Denial of both need and habit
Click here for more information on S.O.S.
LifeRing Secular Recovery
Unlike AA and NA, LifeRing uses a completely secular approach to addiction, believing that sobriety does not rely on a higher power. LifeRing focuses on finding self-control within to empower the “Sober-Self,” thereby weakening the, “Addict-Self.”
Unlike many recovery groups, LifeRing does not have set steps to achieve sobriety. The program emphasizes the positive present-day to embrace what works for each individual to stay on their personal path to recovery.
Click here for more information on LifeRing.
Attending sobriety group meetings regularly post-treatment is important to staying clean. In a study done by Acqua Recovery with Vista Research, it was found that 64% of clients who stayed abstinent for six months after treatment attended regular recovery meetings. Addiction recovery is something that needs to be worked at and maintained. Attending regular recovery meetings decreases the chance of relapse, as well as providing you with support from people who understand what you’re going through.
If you feel overwhelmed by the different types of meetings, don’t worry! Residential treatment facilities may make suggestions for you or may even provide transportation to and from different meetings during your stay, so you can try them out and see what works for you.
At Acqua Recovery, we pride ourselves on creating individualized recovery plans. During one-on-one therapy sessions with a masters-level clinical advisor, we will help guide you through recovery, helping you find not only the right meetings for you to attend regularly, but a recovery program that works for you.
If you or a loved one want to rediscover themselves through addiction recovery, take the first step today and contact us.