Alternatives to AA: What if This Major 12-Step Group Isn’t the Right Fit?

If Alcoholics Anonymous isn't the right fit, there are many alternatives to AA you can explore.Shape

Are there alternatives to AA? If the world's leading 12-step program doesn't seem like the best fit, there are alternatives worth exploring. Read on.

Embarking on the journey of recovery can feel overwhelming, and finding the right support is crucial to your success. While Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has aided many on this path, this 12-step program might not resonate with everyone.

In this article, we explore alternative recovery programs that offer different approaches to help you or your loved ones achieve sobriety. Whether you seek a secular perspective, a different therapeutic approach, or a more personalized support system, these alternatives provide diverse options to suit various needs and preferences.

Let’s discover a path that aligns with your unique journey to recovery.

Alternatives to AA: SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery focuses on identifying and correcting negative thinking patterns and addictive behaviors. It teaches people how to moderate urges, deal with triggers, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Teaches Practical Skills for Managing Addictive Behavior

Participants acquire certain strategies for handling difficult situations and maintaining sobriety, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and assertiveness skills.

Offers Both In-Person and Online Meetings

SMART Recovery provides flexibility by hosting face-to-face sessions in local areas and online meetings that anybody with an internet connection can join.

Provides Tools for Setting and Achieving Recovery Goals

The program focuses on setting goals and provides tools and approaches to assist individuals in developing realistic and achievable recovery targets.

Emphasizes Self-Empowerment and Self-Reliance

Individuals can take charge of their recovery path with SMART Recovery. It promotes self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, and a belief that individuals can change their behavior.

Alternatives to AA: Moderation Management

Moderation Management understands that not everyone with a drinking issue can or needs to abstain completely. It supports and guides those who want to reduce their drinking to safe and healthy limits.

Provides Guidelines and Strategies to Establish Healthier Drinking Habits

Participants learn skills to monitor their drinking, set boundaries, and apply measures to avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

Offers Support Through In-Person Meetings and Online Resources

Moderation Management provides in-person sessions in certain locations and online resources like forums, self-help materials, and a supportive online community.

Encourages Self-Monitoring and Accountability for Alcohol Consumption

The program focuses on self-awareness and self-evaluation, helping participants track their drinking patterns and make informed decisions about their drinking habits.

Promotes Responsible Drinking Choices and Harm Reduction

Moderation Management is based on harm reduction concepts to help individuals reduce the negative consequences of their drinking habits while controlling their alcohol consumption.

Alternatives to AA: LifeRing Secular Recovery

LifeRing Secular Recovery is an option for those who choose a recovery program that does not include spiritual or religious themes.

Emphasizes Peer Support and the Development of a Sober, Meaningful Life

Participants attend supportive meetings to discuss their experiences, challenges, and successes with others in similar situations. The focus is on developing a satisfying, sober life outside of addiction.

Provides Face-to-Face and Online Meetings for Individuals Seeking Support

LifeRing Secular Recovery provides in-person meetings in a variety of places and also online sessions for those who do not have access to local resources available.

Focuses on Personal Responsibility and Self-Help Strategies

Individuals are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their recovery, empowering them to make good changes in their lives by developing coping skills and self-help strategies.

Encourages Participants to Build a Strong Network of Supportive Relationships

LifeRing Secular Recovery promotes the value of social connections. It encourages participants to build and maintain a network of supportive contacts to help them on their recovery path.

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Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24/7 to answer your questions, provide guidance, and schedule an initial assessment. Let us help you determine if our programs are the right fit to meet your needs.


Alternatives to AA: Refuge Recovery

Refuge Recovery uses Buddhist philosophy, meditation, and mindfulness practices for healing and overcoming addiction. The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are addressed.

Emphasizes Meditation, Mindfulness, and Ethical Living

Participants learn various meditation techniques and mindfulness practices to build awareness of the present moment and better understand the causes and conditions that drive their addictive behaviors.

Offers Meetings and Resources for Individuals Seeking a Spiritual, Non-Religious Approach

Individuals can attend in-person sessions at Refuge Recovery to engage in discussions, meditation, and reflection. It also provides books, guided meditations, and an online community.

Provides a Supportive Community for Individuals in Various Stages of Recovery

Refuge Recovery fosters a friendly atmosphere where individuals can talk with others going through similar problems and support each other on the road to recovery.

Focuses on Finding Meaning and Purpose in a Sober Life

Individuals are encouraged to seek and create a sense of purpose, meaning, and connection outside of addiction, helping them toward a more fulfilling life.

Alternatives to AA: Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety is a program designed to meet the particular needs and experiences of women seeking recovery from alcohol addiction.

Focuses on Building Self-Esteem, Emotional Healing, and Empowerment

The program emphasizes the importance of self-esteem and emotional health in the recovery process. It provides tools and strategies to help women heal from traumas, develop self-worth, and cultivate a good self-image.

Provides a Supportive Environment for Women to Share Their Experiences

The Women for Sobriety provides a safe and supportive environment for women to freely express their recovery journey's struggles, achievements, and concerns. Peer support and the sharing of personal experiences are encouraged in the program.

Offers In-Person Meetings, Online Resources, and a Supportive Online Community

The Women for Sobriety holds face-to-face sessions in chosen areas where women can communicate with one another. For individuals who prefer virtual engagement, it also provides online tools, forums, and a supportive online community.

Promotes the Development of Healthy Coping Skills and Positive Self-Care

The program focuses on providing women with practical skills and methods for stress management, dealing with triggers, and practicing self-care. It underlines the significance of establishing healthy coping methods as alternatives to alcohol consumption.

Encourages Personal Growth and Self-Improvement

Women for sobriety promotes personal development and self-improvement. It encourages people to develop and achieve personal objectives, develop great relationships, and live a fulfilling and sober lifestyle.

Recognizes the Strength and Resilience of Women in Recovery

The program celebrates women's courage, strength, and unique journeys in recovery. It provides a safe environment for women to empower themselves and support one another on the road to recovery.

Alternatives to AA: Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

SOS is an option for people who seek a recovery program without a religious or spiritual component.

Encourages Self-Empowerment and Personal Responsibility

The program stresses personal responsibility for recovery, focusing on self-empowerment and the belief that people can overcome addiction.

Offers Face-to-Face Meetings Where Individuals Can Share Their Experiences

During SOS sessions, individuals can discuss their experiences, struggles, and successes in recovery in a safe and supportive environment.

Provides a Supportive Community and Tools for Maintaining Sobriety

SOS meetings provide peer support, encouragement, and practical sobriety tools. Individuals can make contact with others who understand their situation.

Focuses on Abstinence and Personal Growth

SOS encourages people to commit to abstinence to achieve and maintain sobriety. Personal development, self-improvement, and establishing a good view of life are all addressed in the program.

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Alternatives to AA: Online Recovery Communities

Individuals seeking support and connection have a useful and accessible choice in online recovery groups. Virtual support groups and services are available through various online platforms and communities.

Convenient and Accessible Option

Individuals can get support, resources, and gatherings via online platforms from any location with an internet connection.

Forums and Discussion Boards

Online recovery communities frequently include forums, discussion boards, and chat rooms where people can converse, share their experiences, seek advice, and support others.

Connections with Individuals with Similar Recovery Journeys

Individuals can use online platforms to interact with others who have had similar experiences, creating a sense of community and reducing feelings of loneliness.

Source of Support for People without Access to Local Resources

Individuals who do not have access to local meetings or prefer the ease and anonymity of online support can help from online recovery groups.

How Do Support Groups Benefit Recovery From Alcoholism?

Support groups benefit individuals in recovery from alcoholism in numerous ways.

They Provide a Sense of Community

Firstly, they provide a sense of community and understanding, as members can relate to each other's struggles and offer empathy and encouragement. This can help combat feelings of isolation and shame often associated with alcoholism.

They Provide a Safe Space

Additionally, support groups offer a safe space for individuals to share their experiences, fears, and successes without judgment. This can help foster a sense of accountability and motivation to stay on track with sobriety goals.

Access to Resources & More

Support groups also provide access to valuable resources, information, and coping strategies that can aid in the recovery process.

Overall, the sense of camaraderie, shared experiences, and mutual support found in support groups can greatly enhance an individual's journey toward overcoming alcoholism.

What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. The organization was established to provide support and a sense of community for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction.

AA is based on the principles of anonymity, mutual support, and the belief in a higher power to help individuals achieve and maintain sobriety. Meetings are held regularly where members can share their experiences, provide encouragement, and work through the twelve-step program aimed at recovery.

Over the years, Alcoholics Anonymous has grown into a global movement with thousands of groups worldwide dedicated to helping individuals overcome alcoholism and live healthier, sober lives.

Find Hope at The Forge Recovery Center

Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24/7 to answer your questions, provide guidance, and schedule an initial assessment. Let us help you determine if our programs are the right fit to meet your needs.


Alcoholics Anonymous Online Meetings

In today's digital age, Alcoholics Anonymous has embraced technology to expand its reach and help those seeking recovery from alcohol addiction. With the growth of Internet platforms, virtual AA meetings have become more accessible and convenient for people who may find it challenging to attend in-person meetings. These online meetings offer a valuable alternative for individuals seeking connection, guidance, and support in their recovery journey.

Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Online


  • Online AA meetings cut down geographical boundaries and allow those who reside in rural places or have restricted transportation choices to participate.

  • Individuals can interact with the global AA community from the comfort of their homes through the Internet.


  • Virtual AA meetings allow you additional scheduling freedom.

  • Meetings are held around the clock, so people can choose a time that works for them, making incorporating meetings into their daily schedules easier.


  • For many others, the ability to join meetings online adds an extra layer of secrecy and privacy.

  • It enables people to participate without exposing their names or being recognized by others in their communities.

Diverse Meeting Formats

  • Online AA meetings offer a variety of formats, such as discussion meetings, speaker meetings, step study groups, and more.

  • This diversity allows people to pick a meeting style that suits their interests and needs.

Larger Support Network

  • Individuals from various places, backgrounds, and experiences gather for virtual AA meetings.

  • This bigger support network offers a range of complex opinions, ideas, and shared experiences that can help with recovery.

24/7 Availability

  • Unlike traditional face-to-face meetings with a set schedule, online AA meetings are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • This ongoing availability means that individuals can receive help and advice whenever needed, regardless of time zone.

What Are The 12 Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous?

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are a core component of the AA program and serve as a road map for persons seeking recovery from alcohol addiction. These steps are intended to help people deal with their addiction's physical, mental, and spiritual aspects.

Alcoholics Anonymous Books

Here is a list of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) books:

  • The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

  • Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

  • Alcoholics Anonymous Daily Reflections

  • As Bill Sees It

  • Living Sober

  • Experience, Strength, and Hope

Are You Struggling with Mental Health or Addiction?

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CALL: 877-839-1772

Road to Recovery From Alcohol Addiction

Everybody’s road to recovery is different. Exploring alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous opens up a spectrum of recovery options that might better resonate with your personal beliefs and lifestyle.

Whether you prefer a more secular approach or a program that emphasizes self-empowerment, there's a supportive community out there for you. Although we’re not a 12-step program, The Forge Recovery Center encourages our clients to find their own, best way to recovery.

We’re dedicated to helping you navigate every option you have and find the right fit for your journey to recovery. Reach out today, and let us assist you in taking the first step towards a healthier, substance-free life.

Are You Struggling with Mental Health or Addiction?

We Can Help. Call Us Now!

CALL: 877-839-1772

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

July 8, 2024

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