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AA Isn't for Me. What Are My Alternatives?

I’ve been going to AA on and off for about six months now. I just can’t seem to get into it and it certainly hasn’t done anything to help me stop drinking.

There’s all this talk about God and High Powers, which I just don’t buy into because I’m not religious at all. And having to introduce myself as an alcoholic every time I want to say something just seems juvenile – of course we’re all alcoholics, that’s why we’re there!

I’ve been to rehab and that obviously didn’t seem to work for me. AA isn’t working and I know I need to do something, but I’m running out of ideas as to what. Can you offer any suggestions?


I’m going to be honest and blunt with you here because I think you need to hear this so please don’t take this in the wrong way because I’m just trying to help.

What screams out at me is the first thing you need to do is change your attitude. It sounds like (and I could be wrong) that you have an expectation that treatment and AA somehow are there simply to ‘fix’ you without you having to do anything.

That’s not how it works. What you get out of treatment, AA or any other program is directly proportionate to what you put in. Only YOU can overcome your alcoholism. Rehabs and AA provide you with the tools if you like, but it’s up to you to use them.

Now another key and critical ingredient in overcoming an addiction like alcoholism is keeping an open mind and having a willingness to learn. Can you honestly say that you’ve taken those qualities into AA meetings with you because the message I’m getting from you sounds more judgemental than open-minded?

Because if you do take an open-minded and willingness to learn attitude into your AA meetings, I’m sure your experience will be totally different – and you’ll then also realise that AA in a non-religious program that is supporting of all beliefs.

AA is first and foremost a spiritual program that doesn’t have any religious affiliations. They use words like God and Higher Power because those are concepts most people can relate to. If those don’t work for you; maybe Force, Energy or Universe are concepts you can more easily relate – so don’t let that stop you.

Having said all that though – some people do sincerely try AA and realise it’s not for them. That’s okay. Alcoholism is ultimately a disease of mind and spirit – so try programs that help you develop those areas.

Spiritual programs and practices like Yoga and meditation can be very powerful and effective, self-help groups and organisations like 'A Course in Miracles' can make a difference, and anything that looks at holistic healing from a mind, body, spirit perspective can help tremendously - because alcoholism is a complex disease that affects us on all these levels so you need to work at all of these consistently to create lasting change. For further ideas take a look at this alcoholism self help piece and this article on alternative alcoholism treatment.

That means finding what works for you and may require some trial and error. But remember what I said earlier – whatever program you choose, you will only get out what you put in. There is no quick fix. Overcoming and recovering from alcoholism just doesn’t happen – you have to make it happen – and that takes work.

You can do this. Just consider making that attitudinal shift and begin taking ownership of your recovery - and I’m sure that’ll set you on the right path.

All the best and take care

Comments for AA Isn't for Me. What Are My Alternatives?

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To anonymous
by: freddiekatt

It's funny, you sound exactly like me. I just spent two nites going to AA meetings because I'm committed to doing so. Both of these meetings were speaker meetings. Both left me with a huge desire to drink. I conquered it yesterday, but sadly not today.

Both instances, I heard people talk about how they just had a "switch" happen...and they never went to meetings...just admitted they had a into AA and never replapsed or slipped...apparently it was easy peasy. So it hurts me to know I've struggled for 15 years. I have seriously gone to AA for the past 9 months (after a month in rehab in april of last year) and yet...a month...I had two at one I just do what I do...drink 2-3 times a week and pretend that AA is working for me...cause it is...the program is excellent. As you said...could help any and everyone. So I think I am growing and learning...whilst still drinking! Most say this is impossible. I'm a smart cookie. I don't drink ALL the time. I still am able to process and learn. And I AM different than I was. I just still drink! So my question still comes back to what I googled...Why doesn't AA work for me? Cause I'm not ready? Why have I been trying for 10 years...3 rehabs (I put myself in every single one)...why then, can I not just recieve this magical switch or whatever it is. I took 2 hours this morning before meditate, do readings, pray...think some housework...get myself in order...only to have a bad day...then I held off drinking even tho I wanted that...but went to therapy...felt said...I should go to a meeting...90 in 90 right? Went. Heard the speaker...felt like triggered..thought can't work for me..rehashed the day and bought a bottle of wine. So that's what happened. Am I not ready? I am maybe a split personality for christ sakes! I change on a dime...I have no idea if I have emotions and if I do what they are.

I take a lot from rational recovery. I'm reading lovingkindness...a wonderful book...I want to look more into buddism...I feel..meditation is key. I've always had a strong relationship with eastern philosphy and medicine. I'm going to a meditation group. But I still drink for christ sakes. Cause tonight...i was so disapointed...I hard today...and this speaker...had a switch go off. Never mentioned one ouce of struggle after he stopped... seems like it was super easy. Have I mentioned I've probablly gotten 20 - 24 hr chips. I should have gotten 40. So what to do.

I know exercise is important...eating...but I'm such a mess at this point...not even drinking...just consumed about what the fuck I'm doing wrong in AA? What am I doing wrong??

Just bought my BF the allen carrs book on quitting smoking. I think I owe it to myself to read his book on quitting alcohol.

starstarstarstar not for all
by: jim

your alternatives are allen carrs book. which helped me .iwas an active alcoholic;for 50 years with a few stops in between at a.a. i could not tkae a.a, they mean weeo and im not going to bash them .but if you can not stand going to meeting the rest ofyour life ,then you owe it to yourself and those that love you to find other advice to you is o=to spend time exploring options ,this is not easy to overcome but the good news is many many manynothers have quit forever using ,a,a, or all of the other optoins ,if you stop trying and resign yourself to alife of booze you are a dead man walking good lick jim

been there
by: ronnietwowolves

Being a recovering alcoholic gives me problems when it comes down to being with others seeking the same answers as me. I started by going to meetings at ONE location and started to feel I was getting nowhere-fast!It came to be a fellow recovering person told me that there are other groups meeting at different locations and that maybe I would find my niche in one of them.Sure enough,I started going to other meetings with different people and finally found several that made me feel I was getting something out of them.
You have to sometimes wade through a lot of bunk in order to get something worthwhile from recovery groups.I'm not saying any one group is better or worse than others,I'm saying it's up to you to find where you feel best and get better.
Telling your story also helps you-and others because you are giving a little of your self to others in that they may benefit as well.

a great book
by: Anonymous

There is a guy named Allen Carr who has written a series of "Easy Way" books. His initial one was on quitting smoking - best seller, claims over 5 mil people have quit with it, etc. Turns out he also had a drinking problem as well as a 3-4 pack a day smoking habit. The Easy Way to Stop Drinking turns every assumption that society has thrust upon us about alcohol into a complete and total farce. He does this by tearing down all of the assumptions one by one, chapter by chapter - things like alcohol tastes like s_it, it's poison, it impairs all of our natural abilities, etc...I can't re-create it, but it's very powerful. There are also some VERY different takes on what an alcoholic (a phrase he hates) is, versus the other 80% of the population that drinks. It's a very fine line, but he does acknowledge the line - and AA for that matter. It ends with some powerful conclusions based on a new view of alcohol, how society uses it, etc. The ultimate goal is to make you realize you're not giving up anything of benefit - it's all an illusion. If I've mucked up this description, don't pay attention to me - get the book. It's worth it.

the AA dilemma
by: Anonymous

I too went to rehab, was introduced to the 12-Step program, and have attended meetings for two years. I've had six months of sobriety, 2-3 months, then I test the waters and drink - usually unsuccessfully. I have studied the Big Book and other literature, done a ton of meetings, have had sponsors, started to work the steps, etc. I've recently made a decision to stop trying so hard with AA. The higher power concept keeps changing on me, I go back and forth, and I've attended some meetings that make me want to drink. My conclusion is that I've been educated, have grasped the concepts of AA pretty well, and appreciate them greatly. But for some reason I can't throw myself into it as deeply as I'm being advised to. I'm faking part of it. I do firmely believe we'll drink until we're finished, and until Step One is absolute, no program can help you. My approach for now is to attend two meetings weekly, ones I feel comfortable at. I think the key is working the steps. They're good principles for living that anyone could benefit from. I may do them on my own unless an extraordinary sponsor shows up. HOWEVER - I'm going to supplement this with other holistic approaches, even use portions of Rational Recovery. I'm ready to stop entirely, but I can't sell myself on life-long AA meetings, etc. The program tells me this will most likely not work, but that's part of "my" program. They say rigorous honesty, willingness and openness is the key - I'm going to try to embody those things in a way that is probably not intended by AA. I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar II as well, so the psych part of this is playing a bigger role and rings more true to me at the moment. We'll see. People can get sober a lot of ways and I wish everyone who has been through what I have the very best.

What about Eastern Philosophies?
by: Anonymous

I've found eastern philosophies like Buddhism to be very helpful because their practices help us see through the clutter we have in our minds (one of the big reasons in addiction I think). A Course in Miracles is also an excellent program, definitely worth trying. Good Luck!

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