Some options and alternatives to AA and 12 Step, in Alcohol and Addiction recovery.
Some options and alternatives to AA and 12 Step in Alcohol and Addiction recovery.
I do actually feel sorry for anyone trying to establish a more modern type of Alcoholic or Addiction support group, these days, because the area has been saturated by AA or other 12 step groups, which have achieved longevity compared to any of the temperance methods that preceded them and have had 50 years to establish themselves, before less faith-based and more self empowering solutions were started. It has been difficult to set up other groups, in any way near the same numbers, and most people have not even heard of them, such is the dominance of AA and the 12 Step model.
I went to AA for about 18 months, having stopped drinking just before my first meeting and looking for a way to stay stopped. I was not aware of alternatives at that point as I had not done enough research and I found AA to be rather curious place, with its mixture of sharing, dogma, readings and religious rituals. I did get a lot of support in my early days that was helpful, from a surprising wide range of people, but there were also a few who wished to push their ideology and control. There were many core beliefs that clashed with my own and I have covered them elsewhere on this site. I went to meetings in UK and USA and found the simple suburban meetings, were more helpful than the more city central meetings that can be quite large and cult like.
I did find being in a fellowship where people had a common aim was useful, although the faith-based methods can cause people problems, especially due to the repetition of readings of things such as chapter 5 of the Big Book, which can result in many, trying to believe in something they would normally find irrational. Some people go through a type of religious conversion that they do not really want, and then feel they have been brain washed. other aspects of the program such as step 4 can pile on the guilt with similar problems to those faced by members of the Catholic faith. Some members thrive in the AA environment and are very evangelical about pushing it on everyone, after the steps have become a core part of their life. I decided that I wished to move on and after some great treatment, that was not 12 step based, I have moved away from formal recovery groups for the last 6 years, but have stayed engaged with recovery via the web, and through a small number of close friends that I keep in touch with. I have met more as a result of starting this blog, and read a lot about the subject, as well as trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. A lot of the methods that I have found to be helpful are discussed in the Stanton Peele and Ilse Thompson book “Recover”. I guess I am trying to point out that I did not simply depart AA and do nothing, and expect everything to be fine.
In the last century, attending the most well-known support group AA, which had its methods adopted by the professional treatment industry, became perceived as a requirement of successful recovery, especially in the USA. As research in the area of addiction has progressed, it has been established that no one program is useful for everyone. people are individuals and have different needs. Some people do better with a method that does not involve a spiritual component, some do best with a self empowering solution. People generally do better when they can make an informed judgement of which support group they become part of, if any.
Some people find that a combination of approaches helps them. Smart Recovery recognises this in its handbook, which is an excellent starting place if you want to find out more about self empowerment. For example Smart may give you the tools to deal with triggers and build greater self-esteem, while attending the generally more accessible AA meetings may be helpful as a way of engaging in doing something different to drinking for a while and meeting people face to face with a common aim. It would give you a broad insight into which solution would be more suitable long-term, or if withdrawing from a support group in time would be a good idea.
Anti AA views.
Many people who have major problems with and hate AA, spent a long time there following a path that was unsuitable for them. They had not found out about alternative methods that would have been more suitable for their needs, until many years later. This is a problem that can happen if you only look at one type of support group, such as AA, which has a number of people who are vocal about saying things such as “you will die if you leave”. Driving attendance by fear is not always helpful! These Anti-AA people generally have only a negative message to give on sites such as the Fix, rather than writing about good methods to recover. This divides recovery groups, and does not really achieve much other than causing arguing and bad feeling. If you want to stop people going to AA, you need to give them a better alternative that is equally accessible and that is being acknowledged in the mainstream press.
Other methods do not have the funding or infrastructure to publicise their existence, and so do not reach as many people as they could potentially help. I never see leaflets for Smart or others in my local hospital or Doctors, yet I always see a poster for AA.
Alternative methods to AA.
Here is a list of alternative methods, and I would point out that although many of the methods I have listed do not have anything like the number of “face to face” meetings that AA offers, they do have online meetings and I see this as a really important way forward for many. I am actually getting involved with some of these groups, in the limited free time that I have, but am not in a position to get heavily involved because of the way I work, these days. Addiction and alcoholism can be really destructive and I am glad that there are a variety of solutions out there to help people. I found this list on the Smart website which encourages people to explore a variety of options and is a modern method for recovery.
The Sinclair Method.
The Sinclair Method is a treatment for alcoholism based on the use of opiate antagonists, such as naltrexone or nalmefene. It differs from other treatment in that patients use the drug while continuing to drink. Dr. John David Sinclair has found this treatment to be more effective in reducing overall alcohol use by addicts than in asking them to try to achieve abstinence, even when combined with naltrexone and psychosocial counseling. The Sinclair Method, specifically, has been adopted in Finland as a standard treatment protocol for alcohol dependence.
Naltrexone and others have been shown to create pharmacological extinction of addiction, resulting in a decrease in the craving for alcohol over time, but is less successful in achieving abstinence. Supported by studies in the early 1990s, naltrexone was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994 in the United States for treatment of alcohol dependence.
SMART Recovery® SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) is the leading self-empowering addiction support group. SMART participants learn tools for recovery based on the latest scientific research. SMART provides a 4-Point Program: 1. Building and Maintaining Motivation; 2. Coping with Urges; 3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors; and 4. Living a Balanced life. Tools include Stages of Change, Change Plan Worksheet, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Hierarchy of Values, ABCs of REBT for Urge Coping and Emotional Upsets, DISARM (Destructive Imagery and Self-talk Awareness & Refusal Method), Role-playing and Rehearsing , Brainstorming, and more. Tools can be found on their website.
Women For Sobriety(WFS)
Women for Sobriety (WFS) is the first and only self-help program accounting for the special problems women have in recovery, specifically the need for feelings of self-value and self-worth, and the need to expatiate feelings of guilt and humiliation. Their purpose is to help all women with addiction through the discovery of self, gained by sharing experiences, hopes and encouragement with other women in similar circumstances. The “New Life” Acceptance Program includes thirteen statements to aid those participating in the program, and can be found on their website.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety/Save Ourselves SOS takes a self-empowerment approach to recovery, and addresses sobriety (abstinence) as “Priority One, no matter what!” The program credits the individual for achieving and maintaining his/her own sobriety, and respects recovery in any form. There are six suggested guidelines for sobriety, including “Sobriety is our priority”, and “We are each responsible for our lives and our sobriety”. The others can be found on their website.
LifeRing LifeRing offers sober, secular self-help to abstain from alcohol and non-medically-indicated drugs by “relying on our own power and the support of others”. The program operates according to the “3S” Philosophy: 1. Sobriety, 2. Secularity, 3. Self-Help. Meetings are friendly, confidential, non-judgmental gatherings of peers, and the atmosphere is relaxed, practical and positive.
Moderation Management Moderation Management (MM) offers education, behavioural change techniques and peer support for problem drinkers seeking to decrease their drinking — whether to moderate levels or to total abstinence. MM offers a variety of behavioural methods for change, guidelines for responsible drinking, and tools to measure progress. The program follows 9 Steps Toward Moderation and Positive Lifestyle Changes which can be found on their website.Google+