Alternative Avenues

There are many pathways, modalities, and avenues to recovery; the only "right" one is the one that is right for you. Below, we have listed some of the most common pathways to recovery. Each one offers a unique approach to addiction treatment.

  • SMARY RECOVERY (SELF MANAGEMENT AND RECOVERY TRAINING): SMART Recovery offers a secular, self-empowering, abstinence-based approach to addiction based on a “4-Point Program”: 1) enhancing and maintaining motivation; 2) coping with urges; 3) problem-solving; 4) lifestyle balance. SMART provides individuals suffering from any type of addictive behavior, from substance misuse to gambling addiction, with the opportunity to participate in a world-wide community with free, science-based mutual help groups led by a trained facilitator. The program was founded in 1994, and is now offered in 21 countries, 11 languages, over 2,400 weekly meetings, and a number of virtual meetings. Its logic-based approach incorporates elements from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT), and motivational interviewing (MI).

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  • WOMEN FOR SOBRIETY: Women for Sobriety was founded in 1975 to help women recover from alcohol and drug addictions. It is an abstinence-based, self-help program focused on positive thinking, metaphysics, meditation, group dynamics, and the pursuit of health through nutrition. WFS has certified moderators leading free, weekly, face-to-face groups throughout the US and Canada, in addition to having weekly virtual meetings. The “New Life” program offered by WFS is based on the following Thirteen Acceptance Statements, which promote spiritual and emotional growth tailored to the needs of women: 1) I have a life-threatening problem that once had me. I now take charge of my life and my well-being. I accept the responsibility. 2) Negative thoughts destroy only myself. My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life. 3) Happiness is a habit I am developing. Happiness is created, not waited for. 4) Problems bother me only to the degree I permit. I now better understand my problems. I do not permit problems to overwhelm me. 5) I am what I think. I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman. 6) Life can be ordinary or it can be great. Greatness is mine by a conscious effort. 7) Love can change the course of my world. Caring is all important. 8) The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth. Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities. 9) The past is gone forever. No longer am I victimized by the past. I am a new woman. 10) All love given returns. I am learning to know that I am loved. 11) Enthusiasm is my daily exercise. I treasure the moments of my New Life. 12) I am a competent woman, and have much to give life. This is what I am, and I shall know it always. 13) I am responsible for myself and for my actions. I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts, and my life.

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  • REFUGE RECOVERY: Refuge Recovery offers a mindfulness-based addiction recovery community founded on Buddhist philosophy and the Four Noble Truths: 1) Addiction creates suffering; 2) The cause of addiction is repetitive craving; 3) Recovery is possible; 4) The path to recovery is available. This abstinence-based, self-help program is based on the following Eight Factors, which are non-linear and may be developed and applied simultaneously: 1) Understanding; 2) Intention; 3) Communication/Community; 4) Action; 5) Livelihood/Service; 6) Effort; 7) Mindfulness/Meditations; 8) Concentration/Meditations. Refuge Recovery offers hundreds of free, weekly, face-to-face meetings throughout the US, in addition to a number of virtual meetings.

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  • LIFERING SECULAR RECOVERY: LifeRing Secular Recovery offers a sober, secular, and self-directed approach to addiction recovery centered on developing, refining, and sharing personal strategies for continued abstinence and crafting a rewarding life in recovery. LifeRing offers a number of free, face-to-face meetings in the US, Canada, and other selected countries of the world, in addition to a number of virtual meetings. Unlike 12-Step groups, LifeRing does not utilize Steps, Higher Powers, or Sponsors, as they believe that YOU are the best person to design YOUR OWN program. LifeRing works to support individuals’ efforts to strengthen their Sober Self and weaken their Addict Self. Meetings focus on helping recovering individuals to use their Sober Self to connect with the Sober Self of others through advice, understanding, and encouragement, with the primary focus being on individuals’ current life, rather than the damages of their past.

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  • SOS (SECULAR ORGANIZATIONS FOR SOBRIETY): Secular Organizations for Sobriety, also known as “SOS” or “Save Our Selves”, was developed in 1985 to provide individuals with a self-empowering approach to addiction recovery. SOS addresses abstinence as “Priority One, no matter what”, crediting individuals for the maintenance of their own sobriety. SOS offers a number of face-to-face and virtual free, weekly meetings.

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  • HARM REDUCTION: The harm reduction model aims to the reduce negative consequences that result from drug use through practical strategies, from managed use to abstinence, in order to meet drug users where they are. There is no universal formula for harm reduction, as it is meant to fit the specific strengths and needs of each individual. Harm reduction approaches view drug use as a multifaceted phenomenon that calls for nonjudgmental services and resources to ensure that substance misusers have a voice in the programs and policies designed to serve them. Overall, harm reduction models seek to empower substances misusers, who are treated as the primary agents of reducing the harms of their own drug use. The Harm Reduction Coalition is a national organization that promotes the dignity and health of individuals impacted by drug use. Their efforts, which aim to advance harm reduction policies and practices, recognize the social inequalities that may amplify drug use, and work to reduce the vulnerabilities of such communities. More information on the Harm Reduction Coalition can be found at http://harmreduction.org.

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  • PSYCHEDELIC THERAPY: Psychedelic therapy refers to therapeutic practices that employ psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and ibogaine, in collaboration with psychotherapy in the treatment drug addiction and certain mental disorders. Multiple studies have demonstrated efficacy in these practices despite their controversial nature. In fact, Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, found that LSD helped to suppress his ego and therefore reach a more spiritual state that assisted his recovery process. Nonetheless, psychedelic therapy is a progressive, evidence-based approach to recovery that is being employed by select treatment centers.

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  • HOLISTIC AVENUES: Holistic approaches to drug addiction incorporate comprehensive mental, physical, and spiritual practices, such as acupuncture, message therapy, yoga, meditation, herbal medicines, biofeedback, and nutrition therapy, to treat the whole person. In other words, holistic approaches address addiction rom all angles, rather than focusing exclusively on a physical symptom or behavior. Such approaches may be employed alone or as a complimentary supplement to evidence based approaches.

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  • TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE: Transformational change, according to renowned addiction specialist William White, refers to an alteration in personal identity, values, and relationships through an experience of change that is unplanned, profound, positive, and permanent (REFERENCE.) Such revitalizing experiences, which range from secular to spiritual to religious, serve to launch an abstinence-based healing process for individuals. Transformational change can be fiend by two interdependent experiences: a breakdown and a breakthrough; thus, recovery is both “destructive and creative”, notes White, who also noted that “this metamorphosis can occur over decades or a span of moments.” Overall, a transformational change acts as a catalyst for addiction recovery, “not by removing alcohol and drugs from an otherwise unchanged person, but by birthing a new self in which alcohol and other drugs have no role” reports White. This process is one of self-empowerment than many use in their journey to recovery.

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  • RELIGION/FAITH RECOVERY: Some individuals prefer a religious pathway to recovery. Church/temple groups, or organizations such as Celebrate Recovery, provide an avenue to a faith-based approach. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-Centered 12 Step program that offers weekly meetings, conferences, and online discussions. Approaches that employ such methodology operate on the basis of providing individuals with a purpose, or cause greater than themselves, through religious means and a sense of community.

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  • NATURAL HEALING: Natural healing is the most common approach to recovery; it includes recovery that occurs without treatment or support groups. The four key elements of successful natural recovery are motivation, humility, sustained effort, and there restoration of meaning and purpose. Contrary to popular belief, there are many individuals who heal naturally, without any intervention.

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  • 12 STEP PROGRAMS (i.e. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS): The 12 Steps were created in 1939 order to establish guidelines for the best way to overcome alcohol addiction. There are now many of 12 Step recovery programs, in addition to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), that address a variety of addictive behaviors Alternative 12 Step Groups include: Cocaine Anonymous (CA), Codependents Anonymous (CODA), Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA), Debtors Anonymous (DA), Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), Heroine Anonymous (HA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Overeaters Anonymous (OA), Pills Anonymous (PA), Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA). 12-Step programs give people who struggle with addiction a tangible process to understand and manage their substance use disorder. They provide a roadmap for addiction treatment. Moreover, they provide individuals with a recovery support network, also known as a “Fellowship”, by which they are able to receive support from others who are dealing with the same struggles. The idea behind peer-support addiction is that you feel stronger when you belong to a group of people who are doing the same thing. 12 Step programs encourage individuals to choose a Sponsor—someone you call when you need emotional support or feel threatened by a relapse. Sponsorship involves one recovering addict walking another recovering addict through the Steps in order to help them stay sober. While it is true that not everyone needs a sponsor, most recovering addicts benefit from giving sponsorship a try.

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