Alcohol Recovery Resources - Beyond AA Meetings
AA Meetings Alternatives
There is really no way to tell how many people Alcoholics Anonymous has helped on their journey to reach and maintain sobriety. The program is an amazing resource for the recovering alcoholic but it is not the only element you need for recovery, nor is it the best choice for everyone. Even though AA strives to be unaffiliated with any religion or group there is a fundamental belief in God and their unchanging traditions. AA's philosophy and traditions are well established, which can be frustrating for recovering alcoholics who do not hold the same philosophies.
Even if you are a member and it is working great for you it is always a good idea to have additional resources to help your recovery. Sometimes you can't make a meeting or you need extra help.
How much has AA contributed to your recovery?
Visual Reminder of Your Progress
Carry with you a tangible item to remind you of your progress and why you are staying sober. You can find items to carry with you that are not as obvious as a sobriety chip. It might be a religious symbol or a picture of your children. You might have the background on your phone or desktop be text of a simple mantra that keeps you on track.
Sometimes it is helpful to see a visual representation of the time you have been sober. This might come in the form of putting a marble in a jar for every day or week you go without a drink. Or maybe you add a tally to the list. Whatever it is, putting it on display for yourself in your bedroom or office helps keep you accountable.
Write in a Recovery Journal
Writing about events and perspectives has been shown to help people manage depression and PTSD. For the same reasons it can also play a vital role in alcohol recovery.
If you are looking for another strategy to strengthen your recovery you might consider trying regular writing. When done daily writing becomes a therapeutic process. This gives you the opportunity to get all your thoughts down when you feel overwhelmed. You can share your struggles and thoughts with no fear of judgement.
If you are early on in your addiction recovery and have not yet identified your triggers then keeping a journal might be a good way to keep track of what situations lead to the feeling that you need to drink. It can also be a way of recording the times when you wanted a drink but were able to resist.
Not sure where to start? Write about your latest meeting. How did it make you feel? How can you relate to the people who were there? Or think about the last time you had a craving for alcohol. What brought it about? How did you resist? Sobriety requires you to know yourself, and writing is a great tool for that.
A therapeutic journal strategy that is particularly helpful for the addict is keeping a gratitude journal. It is just what it sounds like and helps the writer to consider their life from a perspective of gratitude instead of selfishness. This practice makes the recovering addict more resilient against hard times. It can be in depth as a journal entry every day or as simple as a list.
In the program, steps 4 and 10 lend themselves toward writing.
Alternate Support Groups
AA is not the right fit for everyone. But having a support group really is invaluable to getting a staying sober. For most in recovery, there is no replacement to being around people with stories so similar to your own that you don't feel so alone. But if a support group is so important but you don't feel like you belong in AA, where else can you go?
SMART Recovery is a nationwide program with no religious affiliation that has many of the benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous. A quick Internet search can show you if there are active communities in your area. Aside from SMART there are a few lesser known organizations that may be the right fit for you: Secular Organizations for Sobriety, Women for Sobriety and Rational Recovery are a few examples with support groups across the United States. Some are free and others can be pretty costly so it is worth researching before you seek out a location.
Listen to Stories of Recovery
You may not be able to attend a meeting but the media can provide an abbreviated sense of the community and strength you get from an AA meeting. An easy way to do this is to find alcoholics anonymous podcasts or audio books. Many of the elements that make up these podcasts are the same that make up meetings. There is a ton of support from the group and you will hear their stories.
Learn about Alcoholism
Understanding your disease is never more important to treatment than it is with addiction. Because with this disease it is you, not your doctor, who is in charge of your recovery.
Part of the reason the Big Book is so effective for recovering alcoholics is the care it takes in describing the alcoholic to us. Many non-drinkers and in control drinkers perpetuate misconceptions about alcoholics that prevent them from successfully getting treatment. Seek out resources to understand your addiction. This will give you the power to craft your own recovery plan and make sure you stay on it.
Other Community Groups
One of the many things we get from AA meetings is a sense of community and structure. Believe it or not, the outside word has plenty of options for that as well:
- Church or bible study communities
- Volunteer groups for a cause you care about
- Support groups for your specific case
- Online chat groups
Many Roads to Recovery
The resources you use to keep yourself sober are completely up to you. This is going to look different for everyone and while AA is often a good place to start, it may not hold all the answers. The important thing is to develop strategies to cover every aspect of your life that give you the means to cope with cravings and urges and understand your addiction.