Alternatives to Traditional 12-Step Programs

One size does not fit all people

February 20, 2022
Man in therapy session supported by others

AA and NA have been around since the 1930s. These programs have helped many people, but there have always been those for whom they don’t work. In the past few decades, we’ve seen more recovery options with effective alternatives to AA/NA that provide different roads to recovery. These alternative groups still rely on peer support and provide tools to minimize relapse. Most of these programs are free to join.

Here’s a list of a few alternative programs to help you find the approach that’s right for you.

Non-Secular Recovery Meetings

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered 12-step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind.

Recovery Dharma

This group believes that recovery means empowerment, and its members support each other as partners walking the path together.

Refuge Recovery

Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist-oriented, non-theistic recovery program that does not ask anyone to believe anything, only to trust the process and do the hard work of recovery.

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety (WFS) is the first peer-support program tailored specifically for women overcoming substance use disorders (SUDs).

Secular Meetings


Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) mutual support meetings are free and open to anyone seeking science-based, self-empowered addiction recovery.


LifeRing Secular Recovery is an organization of people who share practical experiences and sobriety support.

Harm Reduction Works

The community-based organization HRH413 developed Harm Reduction Works–HRW in response to the need for a harm reduction–based alternative to abstinence-only self-help/mutual aid groups.

HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

The HAMS Harm Reduction Network is primarily about providing support for people who wish to reduce or eliminate the harm in their lives caused by the use of the “soft” drugs alcohol, marijuana, nicotine and/or caffeine.

Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous (MARA)

Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous is a support group of people who believe in the value of medication as a means to recovery.

Family Recovery Meetings


Al-Anon is a mutual support group of peers who share their experience in applying the Al-Anon principles to problems related to the effects of someone in their lives with alcohol issues.


Alateen is a peer support group for teens who are struggling with the effects of someone else’s problematic alcohol use.

Nar-Anon and Narateen

The Nar-Anon Family Groups is primarily for those who know or have known a feeling of desperation concerning the addiction problem of someone very near to you.

More Help & Information

Auguste Rodin, The Thinker

Sobriety vs. Recovery: What's the Difference?

Are the concepts themselves up for debate? Do they require certain treatments, or abstinence from everything? It's complicated! And new ways of thinking are changing the conversation.

NFL players celebrate after a touchdown

Now Elite NFL Players, They First Tackled Addiction | News Roundup

All Sober compiles the best of the latest headlines. Here's your addiction and recovery news for the week of Feb. 19, 2024!

Family members in a counseling session

Help Them Help You: Explaining Your Mental Health to Your Family

Your mental health can affect — and be affected by — your loved ones. Here's how to discuss it with them so everyone can heal.

Two women hailing a cab in a city

Dry January (and Beyond): The Possibilities Are Endless

There's never been a better time to go sober. Whether you're trying it out this month or already living the life, join us for some tips, ideas, inspiration — and maybe even new friends.

Men hugging at a 12-step recovery meeting

Sober Holiday Tips: Meeting 'Share-a-Thons'

Need to get out of the house for a bit and see some friendly sober faces? Recovery support group meeting marathons run 24/7 from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day.

People hugging

What Happens After an Intervention?

Your loved one agreed to get treatment for addiction during their intervention — or not. Here's what you need to know about what comes next.

People in a recovery community support group meeting

We're in This Together: Building a Healthy Sober Support Network

You are the captain of your recovery, but you don't have to do it alone. A sober support network will lift you up in tough times and celebrate your triumphs.

Woman with bag looking at a smartphone

Real-Life Recovery Tips: Phone a Friend

When you're traveling, you can take your sober support network with you — right in your pocket. Rocker Kasim Sulton shares his top recovery tip in this video.

New Report