Want to quit drinking without AA? Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is free, accessible, and simple. But it’s no longer the only house on the block.
If you’re struggling with alcohol, there are endless options to find support and guidance. Here are a few tips on how to quit drinking without going to AA …
How to Stay Sober Without AA
Find support in a different group
While AA is undoubtedly the most widely available mutual support group for alcohol recovery, it isn’t the only one out there. Alcoholics Anonymous’s emphasis on abstinence and spirituality isn’t a good fit for everyone. If you find yourself at odds with AA, you can find a group more suited to your beliefs or recovery style. Here are just a few examples:
- Y12SR (Yoga of 12-Step Recovery) connects the dots between the practical tools of 12-step recovery, the ancient techniques of yoga, and modern research on trauma healing and neurobiology.
- Refuge Recovery is a mindfulness-based addiction recovery community that practices and utilizes Buddhist philosophy as the foundation of the recovery process.
- LifeRing is an abstinence-based, worldwide network of individuals seeking to live in recovery from addiction to alcohol or to other non-medically indicated drugs, with a focus on encouraging personal growth and continued learning through personal empowerment.
- Smart Recovery is a self-empowering addiction recovery support group.
- Secular Organization for Sobriety is a nonprofit network of autonomous, non-professional local groups, dedicated solely to helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety/abstinence from alcohol and drug addiction, food addiction, and more.
- Celebrate Recovery is a Christian-based recovery program for a variety of addictions and habits that primarily meets in churches.
- Moderation Management is a nonjudgmental group that supports all recovery goals rather than emphasizing abstinence.
But why stop there? My own company, Workit Health, hosts online recovery groups for our members. Groups meet virtually throughout the week and focus on a wide range of topics. If you’re a Workit Health member, you can self-enroll in groups through the Community tab in our app.
If none of these options sound good to you, you can build the recovery community you feel is lacking in the world. Start a group in your area or on a social networking site like Facebook, and watch it grow.
Talk with a coach, therapist, or counselor
Many folks get sober using coaching or therapy. There are so many trained coaches, counselors, and psychologists out there happy to support you on your recovery journey, many of whom are in recovery themselves or whose lives have otherwise been touched by addiction.
Seeing a psychiatrist doesn’t hurt either. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health, which sometimes includes substance use disorders. Because they are able to prescribe medication, psychiatrists can be particularly helpful if you believe you have underlying anxiety or depression you are managing with alcohol.
There are also online treatment programs to help you quit drinking without AA. My company, Workit Health, has offers online, science-backed courses to help you beat alcohol use disorder from your computer or phone. Whether or not you do 12-step along with it is up to you.
Talk to your doctor
Medication is currently used to treat alcoholism as well. None of it is a magic bullet — if that pill existed, we’d all be on it! But if you aren’t interested in 12-step meetings and are seeking a different solution, there’s no reason you can’t look into some sort of medication: Antabuse (disulfiram), naltrexone, and Campral (acamprosate) are all approved by the FDA to treat alcohol use disorder. Naltrexone and acamprosate relieve cravings, while disulfiram works by causing intense and unpleasant physical reactions to consuming alcohol. The Sinclair Method is a particular strategy of using naltrexone in a targeted manner to curb cravings and reduce heavy drinking without abstinence.
Workit Health providers can and do prescribe medication (as appropriate) as part of treatment for alcohol use disorder.
Exercise can support your recovery by boosting your brain, battling the brain disorder of alcohol use disorder. This isn’t talked about in 12-step much but it’s a life-saver. Check out why person in long-term recovery and counselor, Chrissy Taylor, encourages exercise in early sobriety. Exercise will get your endorphins pumping, reduce cravings, and make you feel better.
Change your social scene
A primary reason 12-step works for so many people (in my opinion) is it sets you up with a new social scene, full of folks just like yourself. The value of this can’t be minimized. If you choose to quit drinking without AA, it’s important to consider your current social scene and whether or not you’d like to change that. If you need sober friends and don’t do support groups, Meetup has great local activities that will allow you to get out of the bars and meet people in positive environments.
Another draw of AA for many is that it can put the meaning back in life, helping you find a power greater than yourself, and getting you involved in service with others in your community who need help. Whether or not you are interested in a spiritual program, finding something to live for (other than booze) can motivate your recovery. Whether this is some sort of spiritual program, giving back to your community, getting involved in recovery activism, is all up to you. It’s your recovery.
Recovery from alcohol or drug addiction is a personal journey, and no two people’s paths will look similar. For many years, the accepted options were to send folks to 30-day inpatient treatment or told them to go to AA. But there are other options, and as a society, we’re beginning to accept that those other options work.