I have been looking at recovery programs for alcohol and/or drug addictions and I came across the term 12-step recovery program which seems to be a standard.

Looking at what the steps involve on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) website, they seem to have a religious base:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

While agnostics may concede there may be a higher power of some sort, atheists totally disagree there is a higher power all together (see: Atheism and Agnosticism - Standford University). I realise that AA state that:

Newcomers are not asked to accept or follow these Twelve Steps in their entirety if they feel unwilling or unable to do so.

But, I wonder if there is a non-religious version of the 12-step program.


1 Answer 1


Alternatives to the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Twelve-Step Program

While AA is certainly a leading (and, in the US, the dominant) self-help recovery program for alcoholism and is noted for its religious flavor, alternatives do exist. I have no relationship with any of these programs.

  • LifeRing Secular Recovery: "LifeRing Secular Recovery is an abstinence-based, anonymous organization dedicated to providing a safe meeting space where you can experience a non-judgmental recovery conversation with your peers. We do this through the lens of LifeRing's 3-S philosophy of Sobriety, Secularity, and Self-Help." LifeRing is explicitly non-religious (no god or higher power to acknowledge), but follows AA's model of expecting complete sobriety.

  • Addictive Voice Recognition Technique, formerly Rational Recovery: A set of commercial (i.e. not from a non-profit organization) self-help products designed to allow people to recover on their own, without groups or meetings.

  • SMART Recovery: A non-profit offshoot of Rational Recovery, SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) Recovery rejects the "medical" model of addiction as a disease over which a person is powerless and instead teaches that a person has the power within themselves to control their substance use and teaches how to use that power.

  • Moderation Management: Unusually, this program does not expect or require complete abstinence as a goal, but allows people to focus on reducing a harmful level of substance use to a more moderate level.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.