The 12-Step Program was originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous to help alcoholics with their recovery and sobriety. It has helped countless people struggling with addiction to regain control of their lives. The program requires the participant to follow and complete 12 escalating steps designed to guide the client out of the trap of addiction. The steps involve emotionally painful things like admitting to past wrongs against others and making personal amends for them. Critics say that this focus on the past is punitive and not germane to recovery. The 12 Steps begin with an admission of powerlessness. They proceed to require the person to turn over control of their lives to a higher power. Not everyone is comfortable with this. Many people would prefer to take the personal responsibility for their recovery. AA’s program also makes peculiar exceptions for harmful addictive substances like tobacco. It fully embraces and allows smoking, but it condemns accepted maintenance medications like Suboxone and methadone. This policy is unfair and makes no sense. If you would prefer to avoid the 12-Step Program, and possibly all faith-based recovery programs, you can. Yes, plenty of treatment centers use the non-12-Step drug rehab program.

Whatever your perception of God is, there is nothing wrong with choosing a treatment program other than the 12 Steps. You can believe in God or a higher power and still want to take responsibility for your own recovery and sobriety. You can still ask your higher power to help you. You just don’t have to relinquish all power and control. You can keep this and your personal faith beliefs at the same time.

Alternatives to the 12 Steps

This article will discuss four alternatives to AA’s program.

  • SMART
  • LifeRing
  • Women for Sobriety
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety

SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. It places emphasis on improving motivation, learning how to resist the urges, or triggers, to drink or use drugs, learning how to cope with life without using harmful substances, and developing a balanced, healthy lifestyle. SMART believes that if you can understand and defeat the emotions that cause you to use substances, you can stop using them. It discourages any focus on the past unless a useful lesson can be learned from it. SMART looks forward. It addresses self-destructive behaviors. SMART meetings are held nationwide. There is likely one near you. These meetings are led by trained facilitators. Meetings focus on the concepts of SMART. There are no sponsors, no focus on the past, and no expectation that you will attend meetings for life. You attend SMART meetings for as long as you, as an individual, need to. There are no tearful, long-winded, tedious accounts of how a member became addicted. Instead, SMART focuses on what you can do do change your behavior now to improve your future.

LifeRing Secular Recovery believes that you have the power within you to conquer your addiction. It doesn’t expect you to do this alone, though. LifeRing holds meetings throughout the United States, Canada and some other worldwide locations. It also has a lively online community. LifeRing is abstinence-based. At meetings, participants find support from others struggling with addiction. LifeRing believes that there are as many individual ways to recover from substance abuse as there are individuals. No one is expected to follow the same path, although learning from other members is encouraged. LifeRing wants to see your anger turn to hope. They want you to regain control of your life.

Women for Sobriety is a support group for females with substance abuse problems. It has 13 self-affirming acceptance statements that serve to inspire members to strive for lifelong sobriety. Their website has a list of meeting locations. Meetings are led by certified moderators.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety, or SOS, was founded in 1985 by former alcoholic James Christopher. It believes in personal empowerment. At meetings, participants learn a variety of tools to help them recover from drug addiction and maintain sobriety. One main idea is that addiction thrives in social isolation. At its meetings, participants interact with others with the same problems, instead of hiding them in secret. Their website has a guide to help you find local meetings.

Do You Need Help Finding an Alternative to the 12 Steps?

If you’re currently addicted, you should seek professional detox and drug rehab services now. If you’d like help with finding a treatment program that doesn’t use the 12 Steps, just call us at 770-299-1677. We are here 24 hours a day. We are drug treatment counselors trained to help you find the best treatment options for you. Don’t hesitate to call. We help people every day, and we can help you.