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Exploring Lesser Known Paths to Recovery from Addiction

When someone is considering sobriety or at least recovery, there’s a very good chance that a person will think of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12-step program. However, for many reasons, there are people who do not find the program useful. Whether it’s the fact that the program started in the 1950’s and hasn’t evolved or because it is overtly spiritual, some newly recovering addicts might find that it’s just not working for them. This article will explore reasons why the 12 step program may not be someone’s top choice for recovery.

It’s important to say that Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-step program has assisted long-term sobriety in millions of men and women around the world. Therefore, the program itself is working and will continue to work for anyone who wishes to participate. In other words, there is no flaw or problem in the program. For those who find opposition to the program, because of its spiritual orientation or for another reason might find that using another approach works best for them. A few alternatives to the 12-step program include:

  • LifeRing
  • SMART Recovery
  • SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety/Save Our Selves)
  • Women for Sobriety
  • Moderation Management

There are many reasons why a person might want to explore alternatives to AA. The first might be, as already mentioned, is the presence of spirituality. It’s clear that the 12-steps asks a person to recognize that a higher power exists and that part of his or her sobriety depends upon a relationship with that higher power. It is for this reason that SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety/Save Our Selves) was created – to meet the needs of recovering alcoholics without the reliance upon a higher power.

Another reason that some have turned away from AA is the focus on powerlessness. The 12-step program emphasizes that a person does not have the power within themselves to get sober (or they would have already) and that this is why a person needs to call upon a higher power. However, alternatives to AA reassure a recovering addict that in fact he or she does have the power within themselves. And that they possess the internal control to overcome their addiction.

Yet another reason that some turn to other recovery approaches is the fact that AA has not changed or evolved over the years. When the recovery program began over 80 years ago, certain language, insights, and perspectives were emphasized to assist a person in sobriety. However, these unchanging views might turn a newly recovering addict off – and in fact it has. For this reason, many people have turned to SMART Recovery, which is a program that is open to change and avoids the use of dogmatic philosophy.

Lastly, AA and other models maintain the perspective that once a person is addicted, he or she will always be addicted. Therefore, the program requires their lifelong participation. However, other models recognize a person’s capacity to change. Once he or she has healed from addiction and has recovered, that person has the option to move on with their life. For this reason, other methods focus on shorter-term models of recovery and do not require life-long participation.

These are a few reasons why some people turn away from the AA 12-step program. Although AA has worked wonders for millions of people, it may not be right for everyone.

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