Addiction Recovery - Sobriety

Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

AA is a great program, but there are always alternatives along your recovery path that may be a better fit, depending on your needs and goals.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Addiction Recovery


May 21, 2022

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a long-standing, widespread recovery group dedicated to supporting those overcoming an addiction to alcohol.

While the program has proven effective for some, not every person will necessarily have the same experience with AA. Recovery from an addiction of any kind is a challenging, complicated endeavor, and having as many options available as possible can give everyone a variety of effective alternatives for their path to a healthy, sober future.

If you’re uncomfortable with AA or think you’re a bad fit for the program, don’t despair. There are many paths and communities besides AA that can support one’s sober journey and may be a better fit for their needs.

The Barriers to AA

AA is a tenured program for a reason. Its constant support and availability have helped many thrive, helping them cherish each step of their journey and celebrate hard-earned progress. It is a space for anyone to pursue sobriety, with the only prerequisite being that one is dedicated to a life free of alcohol.

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t barriers to the program as well.

Since AA is accepting of all, an individual can counterproductively feel out of place as a result. For some, this means there may be individuals they don’t get along with, while others may find barriers in the demographics of those present, such as not sharing an age group, interest, or socioeconomic status with those around them, making meaningful engagement and deeper relationships difficult. Addiction and recovery are personal ventures, and being able to make meaningful, lasting connections with peers is crucial throughout each individual’s recovery journey.

AA also presents a barrier for some people in the form of religious and spiritual language being a part of their program. While steps have been taken to adapt this language so that people from any religious background can feel comfortable, some people may still take issue with it and prefer a support group that makes no allusions to a higher power at all.

Exploring Some Alternatives

Even if one feels resistant to the idea of attending a local AA program, their recovery progress doesn’t need to end up stunted. Recovery is a fluid process, and there are always alternate avenues to explore and communities to participate in as one creates their vision of their best future.

Utilizing an effective addiction program or a combination of programs can pave the way for the best, most effective recovery route for each individual. 

SMART Recovery

Self-Management and Recovery Training, or SMART recovery, is a recovery program aimed at addiction in all of its forms, not limited to just alcohol, drugs, or any other one substance or behavior. This program is designed around ideas of self-empowerment, prompting an individual to set their own goals and providing the resources and connections needed to accomplish these goals in the best way.

While there are some in-person SMART recovery meetings depending on one’s community, it has also expanded to online platforms and can connect an individual with peers and sponsors digitally.

This approach also eliminates any pretext, especially surrounding aspects like spirituality. Any questions of spirituality or higher powers are left up to the individual, making it an accessible space for people of any religion or those who want to avoid religious context altogether.

The flexibility of SMART recovery is utilized in many ways, as some people focus solely on the program while others utilize its resources and connections to supplement other continued recovery programs or practices.

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety is a peer-led, women-specific program designed to help women overcome addiction while tackling the unique challenges that women face in their journey. By creating a network of peers and support for women of any age, race, or belief, Women for Sobriety can be an incredible, inviting space for women struggling with the ongoing challenges of sobriety.

Women for Sobriety is also a secular organization, and while they are accepting of women from any religion, religious language and pretext are not a part of the established program. This allows an individual to explore spiritual components of sobriety on their own while still utilizing the resources and peers available through the program.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety

Secular Organizations for Sobriety, or SOS, is a coalition of peers and autonomous recovery groups all unified in the pursuit of the maintenance of abstinence above all else. These groups operate as a group of peers joined by shared goals without any religious affiliations. The peer-focused support can create a grounded atmosphere and promote the development of new and supportive relationships, all while serving as a dedicated support group that one can utilize in addition to other support groups as necessary.

Finding the Right Path for You

There is no one path to sobriety, and recovery has as many forms as there are people to pursue it. Finding the right recovery group and most supportive peers can take some trial and error. As such, there is nothing wrong with pivoting one’s path as their goals and needs change in the search for the best fit. Researching which local in-person groups are available is just one step, and each group will have its own atmosphere and demographic makeup. Utilizing digital spaces can open up more avenues to find the support most pertinent to one’s unique goals in the path toward healthy, sustained sobriety. 

At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the need to personalize your recovery to your unique needs, and we are prepared to help you explore all of your options for a healthy, sober future. From detox to partial hospitalization and outpatient care, we are ready to personalize your journey each step of the way. We can also connect you with a variety of support groups.

For more information on how we can create a recovery program for your unique needs, contact The Edge Treatment Center today.

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