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Is AA the Only Way to Stay Sober?

by | Published on Apr 6, 2020 | Alcohol Addiction, Drug Addiction

Is AA the Only Way to Stay Sober

Since 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has been the go-to solution for anyone struggling with alcohol dependence to seek help. However, today, the wide variety of options has people asking: is AA the only way to stay sober? 

In reality, AA isn’t an evidence-based treatment that gives you access to medical detox, specialized therapists, and other benefits from addiction treatment centers. Let’s explore the ins and outs of the AA recovery model and help you figure out if it’s the best way to help you get sober. 

What is AA?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship founded by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith. The program, based on “The Big Book” literature was aimed to help people recover from alcoholism. There are no dues or fees to be part of AA; the only requirement is for members to show a desire to stop drinking. 

Pros & Cons of AA Meetings

Benefits of AA and the 12-Steps

Alcohol Anonymous can be quite beneficial for recovering alcoholics. Over 90 percent of treatment facilities recommend or incorporate 12-step group meetings in their programs. Most rehab centers adopt their principles and structures.

One study analyzed participation in AA meetings and found that greater involvement in AA was associated with more successful recovery. The most significant benefit of AA attendance was the change in social networks. Because people have more contact with others who support abstinence and fewer with those who encourage drinking, their confidence to maintain sobriety in social situations improved.

The increased spirituality aspect or religious practices from AA meetings helped improve depression. The study shows it plays an essential role in long-term sobriety for those who completed inpatient treatment for addiction.

While there’s more to understand about the benefits of AA and the twelve-step program, it appears these types of programs facilitate positive social changes that can help those in recovery maintain long term sobriety. 

Drawbacks of AA Meetings

One of the most significant limitations of AA programs is their heavy focus on spirituality. Introducing the idea of a higher power is a significant sticking point for many people. Some individuals may feel that any concept that requires them to believe in something or to conform is not for them.

Generally, the “God part” of most 12 steps groups can be quite troublesome for non-believers. Non-religious people are still encouraged to follow the same steps, seek prayer, practice meditation, and develop a conscious relationship with God. Through the steps, the member, or addict, will create a sense of a relationship with a higher power. Thus, 12-step groups believe that recovery without God or a higher power is unlikely.

In addition, AA meetings should not be the first choice of treatment to deal with alcohol addiction. When someone struggles with alcoholism, they’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. AA meetings don’t provide the medical support they need to navigate their withdrawal process in a safe and comfortable environment. 

Usually, these meetings are part of a bigger treatment plan that incorporates individual therapy sessions, often using cognitive-behavioral therapy to address the underlying cause of addiction. Most of the time, patients start AA meetings after seeking treatment.

How to Know If AA is Right for You

Overall, most people think AA is the right step to continue their recovery journey. However, with religious undertones and emphasis on spiritual discovery, the tenets of the 12-step program aren’t agreeable for everyone.

The best way to know if AA is right for you would be to attend a few meetings to get a real-life experience of what to expect from these meetings. However, remember that these group meetings are quite uncomfortable since you’re sharing your struggles with alcoholism basically to strangers, even when it’s an anonymous setting. 

However, there are many variables to Alcoholics Anonymous to consider:

  • Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART): SMART Recovery programs follow a science-based 4-Point Program directed to drug and alcohol abusers. Generally, their mutual-support program encourages self-empowerment and self-reliance.
  • LifeRing: LifeRing Secular recovery programs are non-12-steps recovery paths for those seeking peer-run support groups. In meetings, participants are encouraged to share practical experiences about their addiction and sobriety journey.
  • RefugeRecovery: RefugeRecovery is a different type of recovery support group based on Buddhist principles. The program believes everyone has the potential to free themselves from addiction. Using Buddha’s teachings, they hope to carve a path of recovering and awakening.
Chances of Becoming an Alcoholic

Alcohol Addiction Treatment 

When you’re looking for the right substance abuse treatment, the more options you can choose from the merrier. When it comes to alcohol rehab centers in Florida, it’s vital to find one with comprehensive treatment plans that adapt to your needs. Our rehab center is equipped with licensed staff members who will guide you in your recovery process. We incorporate various evidence-based treatments. 

Treatment Options

  • Alcohol Detox: Every alcohol rehab journey starts with a detox program. Here, our staff members ensure a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to begin tapering off their alcohol abuse.
  • Inpatient Treatment: Usually, after detox, patients move to an inpatient treatment setting for an intensive rehab program. These are structured and strict programs that allow for little flexibility. The change in environment and structure helps patients focus their recovering efforts to promote sobriety and long-term recovery.
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment: These programs are perfect for struggling alcoholics that are ready to continue their recovery but must maintain daily responsibilities like family care, work, and school. Individual therapy and medication-assisted treatments are a huge element of these types of treatment programs as patients start working on their recovery journeys.
  • Dual Diagnosis Programs: Many people struggling with alcohol abuse also struggle with mental illness or other co-occurring disorders. A dual diagnosis program can help them get help for substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously.
  • Group Therapy: Many alcohol abusers benefit from participating in group therapy settings and continue to assist AA meetings or 12-step programs after completing their time in rehab centers. These group therapy sessions also help build a social network of new sober individuals that understand the struggles of early recovery and can be a healthy support system to maintain sobriety.
  • Aftercare Programs: Alcohol addiction recovery doesn’t end with treatment. Aftercare programs allow recovering alcoholics from developing a sense of community, working on building life skills that help them reintegrate into society, and continue learning relapse prevention mechanisms to maintain long-term sobriety.

Finding Addiction Treatment Today

As if battling addiction wasn’t challenging enough, finding the right addiction treatment program isn’t easy. Many addiction treatment centers focus on spirituality and faith to help people through their recovery. However, those who offer personalized treatments will never push an agenda or religion in their patients.

At Lighthouse Institute Recovery, we believe everyone has a chance of a better life, regardless of your religious beliefs. Even if you consider yourself an atheist, non-believer, or think your faith isn’t helping your recovery process, our team will be supportive. We can find the coping mechanisms that will help in the real world through individualized and personalized treatment

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorders, contact us today to start your recovery journey. Our admission specialists will talk to you about our treatment options, and our therapists will help you find the best program for your needs. 

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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