Recovering from Alcoholism without Alcoholics Anonymous (AA )

Recovering from Alcoholism without Alcoholics Anonymous (AA )

If you are one of the many people who have decided to finally put an end to your alcoholism, then you have probably come across some info about Alcoholics Anonymous. Famously known as AA, this organization aims to support people with alcohol problems – whatever age, creed, or education they might have. 

Recovering from Alcoholism without AA is Possible with These Programs 

While AA has helped a lot of heavy drinkers change their lives, there are some who might feel uncomfortable with its 12 steps. Some, on the other hand, might feel that AA is not the program for them. Remember, joining an association that you feel comfortable with – or one that actually suits your needs – is important for long-term recovery. With that being said, recovering from alcoholism without AA is possible with these five options: 

1. SMART Recovery

Best for: Alcohol users – as well as their friends and family members

SMART Recovery is a non-profit organization that aims to help members (they do not use the term addict or alcoholic) to stay away from substance use. It is a mental health and education program that aims to modify destructive human behavior such as alcohol addiction.

SMART Recovery revolves around the 4-point program that includes:

SMART Recovery consists of FREE support meetings. These make use of scientific methods designed to help an individual to change and adopt positive practices.  Assemblies teach coping mechanisms that are useful for both the short and long runs. 

Apart from offering local meetings in most areas, SMART Recovery also has an online community where members can interact with moderators (and fellow members as well) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Assistance is not only offered to the alcohol user, support is also offered to families, friends, even correctional institutions. 

2. Moderation Management

Best for: Those who have just ‘started’ with alcoholism and want to quit before things get out of hand

Also known as MM, Moderation Management takes pride in being the first mutual support group ever listed in the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. This behavioral change program empowers members to make the necessary lifestyle changes needed to address their alcohol problems. 

What makes MM different is the fact that it encourages early recognition of risky drinking behaviors, which makes recovery easier and faster. It is important to note that alcoholism, as with any other problem, is best treated while it is still at its infancy. 

If AA has 12 steps, MM has a nine-step program that offers a wealth of information about drinking limits, monitoring exercises, self-management techniques, and goal-setting activities, among many others. Like other similar programs, it offers meetings, literature, as well as online support. 

Apart from helping people achieve their own success stories, MM has proven itself effective as it has been recognized scientifically in the study of Hester, Delaney, and Campbell. Their 2011 study showed that participants who used MM together with the protocol had better abstinence day percentages compared to those from the experimental group. 

MM Membership is free of charge, however, the software it offers (such as Checkup & Choices) come with a subscription fee. 


Best for: Alcoholics who wish to customize a program that meets his/her personal needs

LifeRing Secular Recovery is an addiction recovery pathway that focuses on abstinence and self-empowerment. Its main approach involves the 3-S Philosophy: sobriety, secularity, and self-help. Unlike other programs, it encourages the person to design his/her own recovery program – with the guidance of the “Recovery by Choice” workbook – and some able assistance as well. 

The LifeRing program works by strengthening the “Sober Self” and weakening the “Addict Self.” Instead of dwelling on the past, conversations go around addicts utilizing their sober personalities, all the while dispensing helpful advice for one another.

LifeRing offers face-to-face meetings, as well as online forums for those who live far/refuse to attend the said assemblies. Self-help publications are available for access as well.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety

Best for: Alcoholics looking for recovery without religiosity 

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a group of nonprofessionals who aim to help people attain sobriety or abstinence from addictive substances, such as alcohol, drugs, even food. 

SOS hosts meetings and provides literature to interested parties for free. It also hosts online forums for people who live far away from SOS facilities. 

SOS was founded in 1985 by James Christopher, who was looking for a means of recovering from alcoholism without AA. He attended meetings and disliked AA’s focus on God and spirituality, so he sought inspiration from secular humanists. Such fueled him to develop his own program – the forerunner of SOS – which helped him remain sober since 1978.  

5. Women for Sobriety

Best for: Women – and those who identify as women 

Approximately 5.3 million American women suffer from alcohol use disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Women for Sobriety (WFS) aims to help these affected ladies attain self-discovery by sharing similar experiences and providing encouragement. Through this program, members are inspired to attain the philosophy of “releasing the past, planning for tomorrow, and living for today.”

Prior to WFS’ inception in 1975, women in therapy had lower recovery rates compared to men. While the physiological recovery is essential the same for both sexes, women have psychological needs that are completely different from men. This is what the WFS recovery program aims to address.

An organization by women for women (even transgenders,) WFS promotes abstinence through the “New Life Program.” This behavioral change movement aims to acknowledge the special needs of females – so they can develop feelings of self-worth. 

WFS programs include mutual aid groups, peer support forums/chatrooms, and weekend conferences. 

Alcohol use is indeed a pressing problem, but it is something that you can escape from eventually. All the aforementioned programs are meant to help you change your behavior – whether it’s through face-to-face meetings or online forums. All you just need to do is pick a program (or two) that suits your needs. With these five options, recovering from alcoholism without AA is INDEED possible – it’s just up to you to make the move!

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