I’ll never forget the day that I gave up alcohol for good eight-and-a-half years ago. I was working as an entertainment journalist and I’d just been covering a big music event in downtown Los Angeles. I woke up the following morning with a handbag full of loose sushi rolls (yes, unwrapped) from the buffet and a half empty bottle of vodka I’d managed to procure from the open bar. It wasn’t pretty, and while I’ve had more mornings like this than I can conceivably count, something about this one in particular made me seriously question my drinking.
Before I put down the bottle, I pursued every ‘getting sober’ trick under the sun in my quest to get clean. I tried drinking only on weekends, gave “Sober October” a shot, attempted to only drink after 5pm, and the list goes on. Of course, none of this was effective which is when I decided to seek out support. For me, it came in the form of AA, but I realize that AA isn’t for everyone. What I know now, however, is that the most beneficial aspect of the program for me wasn’t–and isn’t–the actual principles. Rather, it’s the bonds formed with others on a similar recovery journey, along with the ability to connect over our experiences. Johann Hari, author of “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs,” famously said in a TED Talk that, “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”
Since AA is just one of virtually countless resources out there for people in recovery, here’s a list of alternative support networks for people who suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and want to embrace sobriety:
SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is based on abstinence from alcohol and drugs. One of the primary differences between SMART and AA is that in SMART, no one will label you an “alcoholic.” You also don’t need to be spiritual, religious, or believe in a power greater than yourself to attend meetings. The program is based on science as opposed to spirituality, and it teaches self-reliance rather than powerlessness. Members are given self-help tools and procedures designed to help them abstain from drinking while being empowered to live more positive lives.
Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) is a program that’s based on the twelve steps, but it’s not AA. It can be a popular alternative for people with Alcohol Use Disorder who want to explore the twelve steps but in a less rigid and structured forum than AA. Y12SR attendees aren’t expected to identify as alcoholics or addicts of any form if they don’t wish to do so. Started by Yoga Therapist, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and Certified Addictions Recovery Specialist, Nikki Meyers, Y12SR combines the wisdom of yoga with the tools of the twelve steps. Yoga can be a great adjunct to your recovery program. When held in an open twelve step meeting forum that’s combined with a gentle flow, it presents a useful set of recovery tools as well. Y12SR is for anyone who struggles with behavioral compulsions or substance abuse issues. If you suffer from AUD and you’re interested in a more open platform than AA, you might enjoy Y12SR.
All Addicts Anonymous, or AAA, is another program that’s based on the twelve steps. The primary difference between AA and AAA, though, is that there are no requirements for membership. Even though the term, “addict,” is used in the program’s title, no one need identify as such. Anyone who has a compulsion that’s become irresistible, or a habit that he or she can’t seem to break, will likely benefit from this program. In an AAA meeting, people who struggle with AUD not only have a place to connect with other individuals who’ve had past issues with alcohol, but also with people who are dealing with other compulsive behaviors.
There are numerous online support networks on the internet. Online support can be enormously beneficial for people who don’t have access to local meetings, are newly sober and don’t feel comfortable talking about issues in a live group, need support at 3am, and the list goes on. Groups like Rockers in Recovery® offer different recovery platforms and live streaming to recovery-themed talks and concerts. SupportGroups.com is another online platform which contains resources, a live chat forum and other useful tools for people struggling with AUD or other behavioral compulsions. Additional informal groups on social media sites like Facebook often provide area-specific networking for people in recovery in different communities.
Many alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers offer outpatient programs. These can be quite useful to people in recovery who don’t want to check into a rehab full time. Outpatient treatment programs are generally much less costly than inpatient programs because you’re not paying for room, board, food and all of the other added expenses that come with inpatient treatment. If you’re in early recovery but confident that you can manage real world triggers, and you don’t consider yourself a danger to others (or yourself), then outpatient treatment can be a great option for support. Outpatient programs include things like group therapy, relapse prevention planning, men’s and women’s support groups, and other tools geared toward helping you maintain long-term recovery.
No one ever said that recovery was easy, but having a strong support network can make a world of difference when it comes to maintaining long-term sobriety. Alcohol monitoring systems, like Soberlink, can also serve as an additional accountability tool by providing an easy way to share your sobriety with people in your recovery network.