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Do I Need to Follow a Specific Recovery Program like AA or NA to Maintain my Sobriety?

Everyone preaches 12 steps, AA/NA etc. I don’t buy it. Went to a 12 step treatment center where they promote everything 12 steps, but the whole set-up just isn’t for me.

I’ve been out for a couple of months now (still sober) – but after the first few meetings couldn’t bring myself to go back. There’s just something about the environment I don’t like.

I know some people even refer to it as a cult, which is a bit extreme, but I do think it’s a bit over the top. It often feels cliquey and people seem more concerned about saying all the right things than about being truthful and real.


The short answer is no. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe 12 step programs are very beneficial and extremely helpful for people trying to recover from addictions, but we also realise it just isn’t for everyone.

As I mentioned in my answer to the previous question, there are many people who successfully recover from their addictions without any formal treatment or recovery programs. But the benefit of existing recovery programs like AA or NA is that they give you a blueprint or path to follow.

Whether or not you choose to follow an organised program, your success depends on the effort and work you put into it. Those that succeed with AA or NA do so because they work at it. Those that succeed outside of those kind of environments do so for the same reason – the commitment and effort they put into their recovery.

So as long as you realise that – and understand that your recovery isn’t just going to happen by itself, then my answer to you is that you don’t need to follow a formal recovery program.

The bottom line, is that successfully overcoming alcoholism or drug addiction (or any addiction for that matter) is an inside job, that requires transformation on the spiritual, mental/emotional and physical levels. If you think you can do that more effectively outside of AA or NA, then go for it.

Good Luck.

Comments for Do I Need to Follow a Specific Recovery Program like AA or NA to Maintain my Sobriety?

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Try another group
by: Anonymous

If you are not happy or finding what you need where you are going, try another AA group. I go to AA, but many times have issues with the program. I do not have many issues with the program in the book, it is usually people and the crap that comes out of their mouths.

Not all groups are the same, I have gone to some I hated!! You find the one where you have a few or more people you really like, you may change your mind.

I have a year sober now, Not sure if I will go to AA for the long haul, but I am sure I will use so much of what I learned about living from the program and many people I have met in AA.

12 step programs aren't for everyone
by: Anonymous

I attended AA meetings for two years and at first was on a pink cloud. I really felt connected to my fellow AA's who were in the same boat as me. I've worked the twelve steps twice, but each time I was a bit critical of them and sometimes would doubt the program. I was sober but not happy. Every time I would voice my opinion in the rooms people would be critical of me; I started to lose my self-esteem. It seemed like people in the rooms were always pointing out my shortcomings and the more depressed I got, the more they avoided me. I finally just stopped going to AA because I was tired of the shame. I gradually cut down drinking and have been happy now for the past 3 years (more or less). AA just wasn't for me.

I'd give a 12 step program a real try before giving up on it.
by: Anonymous

Everyone I've known with addiction problems who said AA/NA wasn't for them but they were going to quit "some other way", all relapsed & are still drinking & drugging years later. Just an observation. There may be others out there who have done it, but I sure haven't met any of them.

AA and NA Work!
by: Beryl

AA and NA have worked for millions, myself included. It doesn't seem like you have really made much of an effort yet to get the most out of them, so I think it's a bit premature to say they don't work for you. The reason many 'fail' at AA or NA is as was correctly pointed out because those that do never make much of an effort to work the steps. You have to work at it to create lasting change and recovery from addiction.

There are many ways to kill a cat
by: Gary

I went to 12 step meetings and did the whole AA and NA thing for many years. Eventually I just kind of grew out of it. I still incorporate many of the principles I learned there into my own 'program' now. It's just that I know what works for me now and don't need the whole AA/NA way anymore.
I still think the 12 steps are a great program, especially for someone new in recovery. You learn so much and meet a lot of wonderful people, so I would definitely still recommend it.

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