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July 07, 2023 3 min read


When it comes to addiction recovery, 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have long been the go-to options for many people. However, 12-step program alternatives have emerged in recent years, providing more options for people seeking recovery.

While these programs have helped countless people achieve and maintain sobriety, they are not the only options available. In fact, there are many 12-step program alternatives that can be just as effective, if not more so, for certain individuals.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Other 12-step program alternatives include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Motivational Interviewing (MI). These therapies are often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), to help individuals address underlying mental health issues and develop coping skills that can support long-term recovery.

It's important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment. What works for one person may not work for another. That's why it's important to explore a variety of options and find the program or combination of programs that feels most supportive and effective for your unique needs and circumstances.

Moderation Management

Moderation Management is another program that offers an alternative to 12-step programs. This program is designed for people who want to reduce their alcohol consumption rather than abstaining completely. Moderation Management provides support and education to help people learn how to moderate their drinking in a safe and healthy way.

In addition to these specific programs, there are also many different types of therapy and counseling that can be helpful for addiction recovery. For example, individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy can all be effective in helping people overcome addiction. Additionally, some people find that holistic approaches like acupuncture, yoga, and mindfulness-based stress reduction can be helpful in managing cravings and reducing stress.

Refuge Recovery

Another alternative to 12-step programs is Refuge Recovery, which is based on the principles of Buddhism. This program emphasizes mindfulness and meditation as a means of achieving recovery, along with community support and education about addiction and recovery. Refuge Recovery encourages participants to take responsibility for their own recovery and to find inner peace and happiness through the practice of meditation.

Similar to 12-step programs, Refuge Recovery involves attending meetings and working through a structured program. However, it places a greater emphasis on mindfulness, meditation, and compassion as tools for healing and recovery.

Sanctuary Model

For those who prefer a more holistic approach, there are programs like the Sanctuary Model and the Alternative to Meds Center. The Sanctuary Model is a trauma-informed program that focuses on creating a safe and supportive environment for individuals who have experienced trauma. The Alternative to Meds Center, on the other hand, is a residential program that uses a combination of natural therapies, nutrition, and medication tapering to help individuals overcome addiction and other mental health issues.

SMART Recovery

One popular alternative is SMART Recovery, which stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. SMART Recovery is a science-based program that focuses on empowering individuals to overcome addiction through self-reliance and self-empowerment. The program uses cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, along with motivational interviewing and other evidence-based approaches, to help people develop the skills they need to overcome addiction.

Unlike 12-step programs, SMART Recovery does not require participants to believe in a higher power or to admit powerlessness over their addiction. Instead, it focuses on teaching practical skills and strategies for managing cravings, avoiding triggers, and staying motivated.


Ultimately, the best approach to addiction recovery will depend on the individual and their specific needs. 12-step program alternatives can provide valuable options for people who are seeking recovery, and it is important to explore all of the available options in order to find the approach that works best for you.