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AA Alternatives

By HabitDoc • June 29th, 2009

Alternatives to 12-Step Programs are Proven Effective

Two key factors influence the high rate of failure among 12-Step programs. First, the immediate mandate to completely stop drinking – abstinence – as the only solution ignores the structure of alcohol addiction.
Addiction is behavior. All behavior has a well-rehearsed predictable pattern or sequence. You can’t expect to change behavior without addressing this pattern. Giving up your destructive drinking habits can only be accomplished by substituting an alternate dependency, by sharpening skills you already have, or developing new skills to make new intentional, structure-conscious choices in your behavior.

Second, yielding to an external motive to quit drinking “cold turkey” is a recipe for relapse. In the 12-Step world, abstinence is treated as the required first step, rather than as a part of behavioral change. Since the motive to stop drinking is external, you take no ownership in it. This requirement for immediate abstinence plays on your fear, shame and guilt.

My approach to helping people stop drinking uses a quite different assumption. I work from the belief that you want to take control of a drinking problem and that you have the innate ability to do so. I work from a position of power – your power to change.

To provide you with even more alternatives to stop drinking and gain control I’ve constructed a chart that outlines the key features of major programs. I am proud to have participated in the founding of two of these AA Alternative Self-Help Groups – SMART and Moderation Management. In 2009, the National Institute of Health recognized the viability of these non-12 Step programs to help overcome alcohol addiction on its Website.

Let me also use this space to congratulate you on taking important first steps toward dealing with your drinking problem or drug addiction. If you’ve researched the Web and read this far, you are serious about ending your addiction to alcohol.

Helping a Loved One Overcome Addiction

If you are looking for guidance in dealing with a loved one who has a drug or alcohol addiction, I have a special program to help you help yourself and your loved one. This “Helping a Loved One” program is designed specifically to give you the skills and information you need jump start your loved one’s recovery from alcohol addiction.

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