After watching a documentary about the darker aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous, “13th Step”, and taking into account my own experiences with AA, I am no longer sold on that organization’s 12-step program as the best way to cure a drinking problem. In “13th Step”, a former AA member named Monica Richardson explores the numerous problems with the organization formed in 1935 by Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Watson (I won’t get into the debate about whether they or three other people who helped these two should be considered the true founders of AA). In general, although well meaning, AA isn’t for all people trying to get or remain sober because of:
- a highly religious doctrine
- Group-based recovery method (not good if you’re extremely shy or depressed)
- Courts’ practice of forcing some violent and sexual predators to attend AA meetings unbeknownst to most or all of the AA chapter’s members
- Danger that some longtime AA members will sexually and/or financially prey on newbies
- The low (5 to 10%) recovery rate of its members
I’m not saying AA can’t work for you but one, especially young females, need to be wary of joining a local AA chapter. If you join AA, seriously consider using it in conjunction with other treatment methods. Also, and I’m biased because I wrote it, but “Overcome Any Personal Obstacle, including Alcoholism, by Understanding Your Ego” is a God-inspired creation that I truly believe it can help anyone with any kind of addiction, especially alcohol or drugs. More info at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/leewriter. Or you can order a copy (printed or ePub) on Amazon.
Okay, here we go. Five alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous
- SMART — uses a cognitive, behavioral psychology approach to recovery, meets in groups, both in person and online. There are four major points: 1) enhancing and maintaining motivation to stop drinking; 2) coping with urges; 3) managin g thoughts, feelings and behaviors (problem solving); 4) lifestyle balance. Unlike AA, SMART recognizes the need for some in recovery to use appropriate medication to treat medical conditions such as depression, insomnia, etc. The pros: it’s based on proven psychological, scientific methods, it’s free and everyone is accepted, there is empathy from other members, and as stated previously, appropriate medications are acceptable. The major drawbacks are their meeting groups aren’t as widespread as AA’s, the meeting facilitators aren’t professional and there’s little spiritual support.
- The Sinclair Method — opiate-blocker-based program that uses medications such as naltrexone to help problem drinkers reduce cravings for alcohol. Those trying to stop drinking essentially drink themselves sober. By taking the opiate-blocker an hour before they consume alcohol, the medication negates the euphoric feelings normally produced by alcohol. Eventually the problem drinker stops wanting to drink because they no longer receive the positive reinforcement from alcohol. It’s got an 80% success rate and is popular approach in Scandinavian countries such as Finland and it is fairly common in the U.K. The reason it’s not more prevalent in the U.S. is that goes against grain of abstinence approach espoused by 12-step programs such as AA’s.
- Declinol — herbal medication with major ingredient being Diadzin, derived from the Kudzu Root that has been used the Chinese for over 1,000 years to cure craving for alcohol. It also has a well-balanced blend of nutrients to replace the nutrients that many problem drinkers have a deficiency of due to their drinking. The Journal of Addiction Research & Recovery reports that every participant reported a lower score on their post AUDIT scores after taking the drug. Numerous positive product reviews can be found on Amazon.
- Moderation Management — this program is NOT for chronic drinkers or recovered alcoholics trying to maintain abstinence. It is designed for those who have experienced mild to moderate alcohol-related problems. The goal is for program participants to drink in moderation and to achieve a more balanced, improved lifestyle. Suggested reading is a book entitled “Moderate Drinking: The Moderation Management Guide For People Who Want to Reduce Their Drinking and Take Control Now!” by PhD. named Marc Frederick Kern.
- SOS (Secular Organization for Sobriety or Save Our Selves) — developed by James Christopher, an ex-AA member who did not agree with the overtly religious nature of AA. The Suggested Guidelines in their program are centered around the Sobriety Priority, which is to maintain abstinence no matter what. Each member is responsible for their own decisions on whether to use or not. They believe abstinence is possible without using supernatural or superstitious means.
That’s it. Five alternatives to AA to becoming and staying sober. Or five methods you can use in conjunction with 12-step programs to achieve a sober lifestyle. The key to making any of these programs work for you is that you’ve to admit you have a problem and you have truly, deep down want to give up alcohol. And as you’ll see if you purchase my book, another vital step is getting control of your ego-generated pride. Your pride will fight your recovery efforts every step of the way but you can win the battle with your ego and with your addiction to alcohol. Good luck to everyone.
NOTE: To see my YouTube video on the five best AA alternatives, go to https://youtu.be/yFoWVic-ymg. The only problem is that this video covers only the roughly second half of the content. The software I used to record the content had a five-minute time limit so I had to record two videos and when I tried to upload the first video, I got an error message on YouTube saying it was a duplicate.