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Do You Have to be in Alcoholics Anonymous to be Sober?

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Business people joining handsIf you go to a rehab, chances are your case manager will recommend that you attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings once you leave. Most substance abuse treatment facilities in the United States promote the 12-Step process as an effective way to treat alcoholism.

While we encourage you to pursue 12-Step meetings as a way to enhance your sobriety after treatment, we recognize that you do not have to be in A.A. to be sober. You have other options available to you if you decide that Alcoholics Anonymous is not your vehicle of choice for traveling your recovery journey.

People Have Different Reasons For Opting Out of A.A.

While the A.A. program is of great benefit to millions of recovering alcoholics worldwide, many find that Alcoholics Anonymous is not a good fit for them.

Because the primary focus of A.A. is the 12 Steps, which orients recovering drinkers to a conscious contact with a God of their understanding, many people struggle with the spiritual aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous. They just don’t relate to the “God thing” and have no desire to give the program a chance. Others don’t approve of A.A. for the opposite reason – they don’t like the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous promotes the idea that you can create a God of your own understanding.

Another reason why some people reject the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is that they disagree with the philosophy that alcoholism represents a lifelong diagnosis. They simply do not believe they need to attend 12-Step meetings for the rest of their lives in order to stay sober. While someone might leave rehab with a sincere desire to stay sober, they may want to find a way to do it without attending A.A. meetings.

Whatever reasons you may have for opting out of Alcoholics Anonymous, we respect your decision. However; we believe it is important that you get connected with a recovery-focused organization that can help you stay sober. Isolation is never a good idea for someone who is new to recovery. A support system is an integral part of sobriety.

Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous For Those Who Want to Enjoy a Life of Sobriety

If you are not interested in participating in Alcoholics Anonymous, you have other options. Here are four alternatives to A.A.:

Women For Sobriety – This is an organization of women, for women. Instead of focusing on powerlessness over alcohol, as is the case with A.A., Women For Sobriety teaches women tools of empowerment. Based on thirteen “Acceptance Statements” designed to encourage emotional and spiritual growth, Women For Sobriety has been helping women learn to live a sober lifestyle since 1975. www.womenforsobriety.org

SMART Recovery – SMART (“Self-Management and Recovery Training”) Recovery is based on a 4-Point Program that helps people recover from all types of addictive behaviors, including alcoholism. SMART Recovery support individuals “who have chosen to abstain, or are considering abstinence from any type of addictive behaviors (substances or activities), by teaching how to change self-defeating thinking, emotions, and actions; and to work towards long-term satisfactions and quality of life.” www.smartrecovery.org

Celebrate Recovery – This is a Christ-centered 12-Step program for Christians who believe in Jesus Christ as their Higher Power. The program centers around a modified version of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with biblical scriptures behind each step. They also promote eight principles of recovery based on the Beatitudes. Meetings include praise and worship, a lecture or testimony, small support groups, and fellowship. www.celebraterecovery.com

Secular Organizations for Society – This is a nonprofit network of individual non-professional local groups, dedicated entire to helping people achieve and maintain abstinence from alcohol and drug addiction and process addictions like gambling and shopping. It is for people who don’t believe in a Higher Power and want to find practical tools for enjoying a sober lifestyle. www.sossobriety.org

No Matter Where You Choose To Go For Help, Go Somewhere

We cannot stress enough that recovery is a process that should happen in a community of other recovering people. Left to your own devices, you will end up drinking again if you do not establish a strong support system. If you could stay sober on your own, you would have. You would have never sought help for your drinking problem. Your relationship with alcohol would not have gotten out of control and your life would have never become unmanageable.

If you aren’t interested in establishing sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous, that is okay. You do not need A.A. to stay sober. But, we hope you will look into one of the alternatives we provided or find one that works for you. Your recovery depends on it.

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