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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

03-06-12 | By

Alternatives to AA

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has millions of members all over the world, and it’s been an extremely helpful and supportive group for many. Lots of people swear by AA and its 12 steps. Some believe they wouldn’t be sober without it. A great number of treatment centers and recovery resources use AA as an integral part of their programs. And while AA is usually considered to be an excellent place for recovering alcoholics and addicts alike, not everyone agrees. Some people, after trying AA, find they dislike it for a variety of reasons, and other people never choose to try it at all. And that’s okay – there’s no absolute requirement for AA in recovery.

But having a program and a supportive group to belong to in recovery is proven to increase success in staying sober. If AA isn’t for you, there are alternatives you can try. There are other programs designed to provide a safe haven, support, and resources to recovering alcoholics and addicts. Here are a few of the more popular options.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a large community of recovering addicts of all kinds. It uses the 4-Point Program to address addiction and recovery. The “4 Points” are building and maintaining motivation; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors; and living a balanced life. SMART Recovery encourages members to support each other while also being self-reliant and learning ways to effectively make positive changes in their own lives. It also recognizes the importance of mental health and the helpfulness of things like psychological therapy. There are meetings all over the world and online. (


LifeRing is a group of recovering alcoholics and addicts who seek to support each other by meeting face-to-face and discussing their struggles and successes in battling addiction. LifeRing recognizes the dichotomy in each addict: that part of us longs to be sober (Sober Self) and part of us still struggles with urges to use (Addict Self). It focuses on empowering a member’s “Sober Self.” There are meetings all over the country, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, and online. (

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

SOS is a great alternative for people who are particularly turned off by the spiritual aspects of AA. It deemphasizes spirituality or religion in recovery, and it focuses on a more “scientific” approach. One of the main beliefs of SOS is the “Sobriety Priority,” meaning that above all else, abstaining from drinking or using drugs and remaining sober is the most important part of an addict’s life. There are meetings all over the world, especially in the Los Angeles area, and online. (

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobreity (WFS) is a group for women only who are struggling with alcoholism and addiction. This group uses the “New Life” program to help members in their recovery. The New Life program is based on Thirteen Affirmations. The program and affirmations recognize the power of positive thinking, and they strive to change your thinking habits in order to change your behavior. To find a meeting near you, contact WFS through its website. There are also online discussions. (

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