Alternatives to 12-Step Addiction Recovery Groups

Cultivating a support system in early sobriety is paramount. Most resources will direct you towards 12-step programs, whether it be Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or the plethora of other 12-step groups. They are a popular option because of their ease of access and providing meetings at various times and locations to accommodate every individual seeking help.

However, you may feel that 12-step programs are not a fit for your specific needs. You may be uncomfortable speaking in front of large groups of people, the emphasis on a Higher Power is not your forte or you do not believe the 12-steps to be a productive system for your recovery. That is perfectly fine. There are other amazing groups and programs that can be conducive to your success in sobriety.

LifeRing Secular Recovery

If the concept of a Higher Power included in 12-step programs is not for you, LifeRing Secular Recovery may be a great fit. These support groups center your recovery around their philosophies of sobriety, secularity and self-help.

  • Sobriety: The first ideology of LifeRing Secular Recovery, sobriety, is defined by the practice of abstinence. Being abstinent means completely removing all forms of alcohol, illicit drugs and non-medically indicated drugs from your life. Without achieving this first goal, the rest cannot be obtained.
  • Secularity: Religion is not a necessary requirement for joining LifeRing. You are free to practice religion in your own time, but the program does not promote religion as an aspect of recovery or use it as a tool to attain sobriety. LifeRing relies on the effort given by the individual instead of divine intervention.
  • Self-Help: LifeRing believes that sobriety’s success relies on the individual’s motivation and effort. The program hopes to aid you in attaining your own drive to maintaining sobriety. They provide an environment where you can create and adhere to your personal recovery plan while encouraging you to engage in abstinence-based programs or counseling sessions alongside their meetings.

SMART Recovery

If you are looking for something based around the idea of addictive behavior itself, rather than terms such as “addict” or “alcoholic,” you may want to consider joining SMART Recovery. SMART is an acronym standing for Self-Management And Recovery Training. Much like LifeRing Secular Recovery, success in SMART Recovery is derived from the willingness of the individual to cultivate self-motivation, rather than accepting the powerlessness over substances as suggested in the 12-Steps. They rely on a four-point program to assist you in recovery.

#1. Building and Preserving Motivation

Building and preserving motivation is the first step towards molding self-determination to stay sober. In SMART Recovery, you are encouraged to make a list weighing the costs and benefits of substance abuse versus staying sober.

#2. Coping with Urges 

Cravings and triggers are commonplace in all levels of sobriety. Identifying where and when these might occur will help you prevent potential relapse. SMART Recovery’s program focuses on diversion strategies to make these occurrences easier to manage.

#3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors

Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors is centered around self-acceptance. In SMART Recovery’s program, you are encouraged to investigate the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that may have caused substance abuse in the past. The goal is to become comfortable with these traits in an effort to cut the tie between them and potential relapse.

#4. Living a Balanced Life

Straying away from the chaos of substance abuse and turning to a life of sobriety can be a drastic change. Finding balance in your new life can be difficult. Living a balanced life in SMART Recovery encourages you to take an inventory of what is truly important to you. This inventory helps you create and maintain realistic short-term and long-term goals for your life to become manageable while still meeting your specific needs in your path of sobriety.

Women for Sobriety

Twelve-step meetings have the potential to be intimidating if you are a woman in recovery. Twelve-step programs have the tendency to be populated by a larger ratio of men, making it difficult to find connections than in a larger sample size.

However, Women for Sobriety founded the New Life Program created a space for women to begin and maintain their path to recovery alongside like-minded individuals. They focus on more unique needs they believe women may need in sobriety by centering their mission statement around their specific experiences. As a woman in sobriety, they may have a broader range of support resources for you than 12-step programs. They have open meetings all across the U.S. and robust online resources to help you find your perfect support group.

Stages of Change

Although not necessarily a recovery group, the Stages of Change is the model used at Cliffside Malibu rather than the 12 steps philosophy. With the Stages of Change, there are six changes a person goes through as they make their way through addiction recovery:

  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
  6. Stability

There are a wide variety of reasons why 12-step programs may not be productive for everyone. Do not lose hope. Finding a support group that fits your specific needs is extremely important. At Cliffside Malibu, we can assist you in creating the foundation you need for your recovery journey with a wide array of programs and support programs. Cliffside Malibu employs a Stages of Change approach to addiction treatment that forms the foundation for lasting recovery. Give us a call today at (855) 403-5641 to learn more about how we can help you pave your path to sobriety.