The most widely-known group when thinking of where to send people with an alcohol or drug problem is AA (or any 12-step program). However, most widely known does not equal the most effective. In fact, it doesn't work for most people, so they are still out there not getting the help they need. It is imperative that we do something, and one thing to do is to start making people aware of the other methods that are available. Addiction is not a "one-size-fits-all problem, and it's not a -one-size-fits-all solution. There are many, many treatment methods for those suffering with substance use disorders. The methods range from total abstinence to advocating for harm reduction. They offer individualized treatment, customizing a plan of action for the individual. The National Institute on Drug Abuse seems to agree, stating: “No single treatment program is right for everybody. Matching the treatment program to each individual’s needs is critical to success.”

A few examples of alternatives to AA include the following:
*SMART Recovery www.smartrecovery
*Rational Recovery
*Women For Sobriety
*The Sinclair Method
*Harm Reduction Therapy

• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
• Dialectical Behavioral Therapy



As you can see, there are numerous alternatives to 12-step programs, so whether you are having problems with the religious aspects of the 12- step program, or you have been in and out of AA for years, yet cannot seem to stay sober, or you simply do not want to go to a 12-step program, I encourage you to take a look at what has been researched to find out what resonates with you. Many of the programs are not mutually exclusive with each other. You now have more than one choice to form your own plan; one that works for you, whether that ends up being moderation or total abstinence. What’s important is that you will now have the knowledge of your options to make an educated decision. And knowledge is power!

One problem remains…in our current system, many people are confronted with this dilemma: Either accept the 12-step model, even though you are not committed to it, nor is it the most appropriate program for you, or be stigmatized as being “non-compliant” or “in denial.” This labeling is especially commonplace in rehabs, sober livings, and our court system where 12-step meetings are mandatory, and they are the only “treatment” offered. The question is…is our goal to get as many people into AA as we can, OR is it to get people the help they really need? There are many paths to recovery. It shouldn’t matter which one a person takes, as long as it works for them.

Author's Bio: 


For over a decade, Melanie battled with addiction to prescription pills. Her life became an all-too-common vicious cycle of rehabs, sober livings, 12-step meetings and relapse. She is finally now living a peaceful, balanced, functioning life.

Her odyssey began just before graduating with honors from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in psychology. One doctor prescribed Stadol nasal spray for migraines; another, Vicodin for pain and Valium for anxiety. Given her genetic predisposition, within days, she became an accidental addict. Every attempt to stop brought on the sickness of withdrawal and escalating use. She had to drop out of UCLA Law School, after completing just one year, and enter a well- regarded, conventional rehab - her first indoctrination into AA and the 12-Steps. This treatment plan only served to diminish her already plummeting self- esteem. It took a near-fatal overdose for her to awaken to the realization that there had to be a better approach.

So she became the consummate researcher, finding new purpose in compiling information on evidence-based alternative recovery options that might better suit the complex and individualized needs of people suffering with substance abuse problems. In the process, she discovered that she was far from being alone in her AA "failure." Indeed, it was instead a customized path that would help her create enduring sobriety. The result was her book, "AA Not the Only Way- Your One Stop Resource Guide to 12-Step Alternatives," an bestseller in its 2nd Edition.

For the past five years, in addition to being a full-time writer and speaker, Melanie has been providing personal coaching for those with alcohol and drug problems. As a Recovery Coach, she helps clients find the treatment plan that is the best match for their particular situation while motivating and supporting them in taking action on their own behalf. She has also taught at the Huntington Beach School District's Drug and Alcohol Program, led workshops for The Learning Annex in California and been interviewed on over 30 radio shows nationwide.

Her work as recently expanded to include being an expert legal witness for attorneys whose clients have been mandated to attend AA, or any 12-step based program, asserting their right to a broader range of options.