AA vs. non-A.A

So having been in and out of recovery for 3 years, attended NA when not using, rehab twice etc, I just have to make some personal observations.

This was brought home to me a couple of days ago two hours after my last use when I had conversations with two Addiction Physicians. The first was a younger female who discussed Cognitive Processing Therapy, the latest studies, and was able to make me say “Hell Yeah I Can” and dump my remaining stash.

The second conversation with my own well respected Addictionist, older, male, and just about to retire was 12-step. “You must surrender.” “You are Powerless”

Eek he may be right but that conversation left me feeling really down and hopeless.

I still believe NA is a great thing, and still plan on attending, working with a sponsor, and doing Step-Work. But plan on working the other angle too with the cognitive approach. May check out SMART recovery etc.

We are all different, and our motivations for getting and staying clean are different. I just have to find what works for me.


Surrender and powerless make us addicts and drunks bristle don’t they?

The thing is — those words are keys to freedom for me. It took me a long while in AA to understand how though. After a bad drunk, I always thought that if i got back on that horse and just fought harder I could lick alcohol. GOAT RUNS THIS MF…or so I thought. The thing is one drink was never enough. Once I take that first drink, I am powerless. Once I surrender to this fact and don’t take that first drink, I am no longer powerless over alcohol. I have taken that power back and can recover, if I want to do the work.


You may find reading Quit Like A Woman or We Are The Luckiest of interest. Quit Like A Woman was especially helpful, informative and empowering for me.



I finally read that sassy; it was really good.

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I went to SLAA for several months. The 12 steps just do not jive with me. A cognitive based approach just makes more sense to me.

Personally, I feel more inspired by not believing there is a higher power that can help me. I feel way more inspired believing the power is in me. I am the power. Other people who have managed to remain sober are my inspiration.

I think what works for one, or even many does not work for all.




the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

I definitely did this in meetings.

I learned a lot from meetings, learned a lot from IOP, learned some truths about myself from therapy.

Why box yourself in to 1 thing? I did everything suggested/offered to me. Worked pretty well so far, been sober over 2 years.


I can’t add much to the wise replies above. All I would say is try everything you can. AA didn’t do it for me and after my experience there I thought there was nothing that could help. I was wrong. I had to have a further 13 years of convincer experiences before I found my way out. We all find our way, I guess.

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I have also found that it varies with the person and the share as well, not just by program. I’ve heard from people in AA like you described, and I’ve also heard people from AA who choose to say something else or take a different tack that I find less discouraging, or they are able to help me see how it is helpful for them.

Use whatever program helps you!

Definitely, whatever works for you, run with that.

I truly believe Sobriety is better than non sobriety (obviously with addiction, but also normal use, I don’t think it’s necessary in life, imo), but there are a lot of different paths to take to get there.

I found talking sober and thats really what started me on my journey but I’ve gained lots of different tools along the way :slight_smile:

I have all the power when I’m not drinking and none when I am. That’s my personal interpretation when I think about these words. I also like to label myself an alcoholic because it’s easier to remind myself that I actually have a problem with alcohol.


It’s not that you personally are completely powerless, it’s you are powerless on your drug of choice. Can you use and easily stop once you start? I know I couldn’t. I wasn’t able to control it, once I started my DOC had me & it called the shots. That’s how I understand the powerlessness. I highly encourage checking out all kinds of recovery options, it gives an excellent toolbox of how to do things differently. Good luck friend!


This is very well put. I’m in full possession of my faculties until I drink, then I’m doing whatever, wherever and with whoever to keep my drunk going.

It’s also just easier for me to stay sober after admitting to myself that I am an alcoholic. Releases all the struggles and inner turmoil, to simply know that beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am an alcoholic.


Agree w/ @CaptAZ, lots of wisdom above but my quote of the day here.

The funny paradox about “powerless over alcohol”: Surrendering to the truth of that I actually found very empowering.

Living in this one truth, not drinking no matter what happens, whatever stupid I pull that follows can be manageable and life can get better.


I could not get on with the message of you are helpless if you don’t ce to meeting forever you will fail stuff. Some guys have gone to AA and been sober for decades and that’s great but there are plenty that don’t. I think the idea that it’s the only option is not accurate. SMART recovery employs the self empowerment message and using CBT methods as well. That resonated much better with me. I’m on 230 days and going strong. The conclusion ive made is whatever works for you great!!. But if someone says there way is the only option, research yourself.


If you search for what works for you, you’ll find it. I don’t believe there is a one size fits all program. I love the 12 steps, it helped change my life. Our journeys are individual, a force greater than ourselves made it for each and everyone of us, when I find what works, my greatest challenge is letting it work.


I’ve found that AA improves all aspects of my life through working the 12 steps, not just the drink problem. I’ve done SMART and CBT and found them to be helpful for my early sobriety, but nothing has matched the joy that AA has brought to my life. I don’t go to AA because I have to. I go because I want to.


This is when recovery is a journey, AA with the 12 steps is good but if you arnt into that there are versions of the 12 steps that dont mention religion (russel brand has a book on it for example), for me i like the odea of AA, havent been to one but look at the steps and interpret for myself. I like the online communities like this and also finding things to just distract myself where i would normally drink.

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I love the community, the ones that I really click with and the ones that can’t stand me. I needed both, it really helped in finding myself through helping others. And it still does, I can be radical in my approach sometimes, and I love the feedback that AA is always willing to provide. And there really is nothing in it more beautiful than someone new or coming back to the meetings :heart:


Religions turn me off, I don’t hate them, but it’s not for me. I believe in God, and attempt to train my intentions to serving that great force that breathed life into me. I’m not trying to save anyone’s soul… I’m completely incapable of that. AA or NA talks of God, and the repetitive nature of some religious practices are well respected. Routine is so important in my experience, routine and practice has led me to a great freedom.

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The surrender the acceptance for me equal freedom.

Since I am powerless i can start to accept what I’ve done.
Since i can accept i can start to forgive.

For me it was not a downer so much it was an eye opener and it motivated me a whole bunch.

Have a great journey you!!!


Consistently working AA and NA has worked for me. It’s a programme for living with alcoholism and addiction whilst giving back to those who still suffer with faith in a higher power in mind. Intellectualising my addiction works for awhile until I find a loophole. Like oh I’m no longer “dependant” I can have one -back into the downward spiral.

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