Beyond the 12 Steps: A New Path to Recovery

The journey to sobriety is deeply personal, and individuals should have access to diverse approaches that suit their unique needs and preferences.

August 2, 2023
Recovery Talks

While 12-step-based rehab programs have been a cornerstone of alcohol recovery for decades, it is crucial to recognize that they may not be the ideal solution for everyone. The journey to sobriety is deeply personal, and individuals should have access to diverse approaches that suit their unique needs and preferences. While millions of people have found success with AA, there are also many people with AUD who have tried or researched AA and concluded that some aspects of the program, such as its focus on abstinence and required admission of powerlessness, lead them to search for alternative alcohol recovery programs. 

It is important to acknowledge the limitations of 12-step-based rehab programs and consider a more diverse set of options for AUD.

Why Should You Consider a Non-12 Step Rehab Program?

One Size Does Not Fit All

12-step programs have proven effective for many individuals. However, the approach may not resonate with everyone. Recognizing the diverse range of experiences and personalities within the recovery community is essential to ensure that individuals have access to approaches that align with their values and needs. Some individuals may feel uncomfortable with the religious or spiritual aspects of traditional approaches. Many people who have AUD don't want to abstain from drinking entirely – some want to explore moderation, while others may want to challenge themselves to a period of abstinence with the goal of returning to moderate drinking. 

Confidentiality Concerns

While anonymity is a fundamental principle of Alcoholics Anonymous, some individuals may feel uncomfortable with the open sharing that occurs in meetings. The stigma surrounding AUD can create significant barriers to seeking treatment and some fear the social repercussions of attending meetings. For those who value privacy and discretion, seeking alternative methods of support, such as 1:1 coaching, can be beneficial.

Alternative treatments provide opportunities for individuals to access support without facing these barriers.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

The Sinclair Method (TSM) is a groundbreaking treatment approach for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) that has gained attention for its effectiveness and unique methodology. Developed by Dr. David Sinclair, TSM utilizes pharmacological extinction and mindfulness techniques to help individuals regain control over their relationship with alcohol. 

Understanding the Sinclair Method:

At the core of the Sinclair Method is the use of an FDA-approved medication called naltrexone. Naltrexone works by blocking the brain's opioid receptors, therefore reducing the rewarding effects of alcohol. When taken prior to drinking, it disrupts the reinforcement cycle and gradually diminishes the desire to consume alcohol.

Individuals following the Sinclair Method are required to take naltrexone approximately one hour before consuming alcohol. This ensures that the medication is in the system when alcohol is ingested, blocking the rewarding effects.

Another fundamental aspect of the Sinclair Method is the practice of drink counting. Individuals are encouraged to keep track of their alcohol consumption by recording the number of drinks consumed each day. This helps individuals become more mindful of their drinking patterns and serves as a valuable tool for monitoring progress.

Benefits and Effectiveness of the Sinclair Method

  1. Reduction in Cravings: By utilizing naltrexone to block the reinforcement of alcohol, the Sinclair Method helps individuals experience a reduction in cravings. Over time, the desire to drink diminishes, allowing individuals to regain control and make more conscious choices regarding their alcohol consumption.
  2. Decreased Consumption: Studies have shown that the Sinclair Method can lead to a significant decrease in alcohol consumption over time. The gradual process of pharmacological extinction, combined with mindfulness practices, supports individuals in breaking the cycle of excessive drinking and reducing their overall intake.

The Sinclair Method provides individuals with a viable path to regain control over their drinking habits. As more research continues to support its effectiveness, TSM has the potential to revolutionize the way AUD is treated by offering individuals a tailored approach that fits their individual needs and supports long-term sobriety.

Several options exist for MAT.  Companies such as OAR offer naltrexone via telehealth visits with a physician. In this case, there is no lengthy wait for an appointment, tedious search for a treatment facility with a bed, or need to take a leave of absence from work.  A similar alcohol treatment company, Ria, also offers naltrexone via telehealth as well as counseling. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a psychological therapy that focuses on identifying and modifying unhealthy thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs associated with drinking. CBT can be an effective alternative for individuals who prefer a more structured and evidence-based therapeutic approach. By exploring the interplay between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, CBT equips individuals with the tools to change harmful patterns and foster healthier relationships with alcohol. CBT recognizes that our thoughts and beliefs significantly influence our emotions and actions. In the context of problematic drinking, individuals may hold beliefs such as, "I need alcohol to relax" or "I cannot have fun without drinking." CBT helps individuals identify these cognitive triggers and challenge the underlying beliefs that sustain problematic drinking patterns. 

CBT emphasizes the examination of the relationship between behaviors and their consequences. By analyzing the specific situations and events that lead to drinking, individuals gain insight into the functional aspects of their alcohol use. This understanding serves as a foundation for implementing effective strategies to modify behavior and reduce reliance on alcohol. In this case, seeking out a therapist can be a significant barrier to treatment.

There are a number of apps that are dedicated to helping change drinking habits. One such app is Sunnyside – which adapts to an individual's starting point, goals, and progress, and adjusts the plan accordingly. They’re focused on helping build healthy habits without the pressure of abstinence.  

Another option is Reframe – which provides a platform for drink-counting based on a neuroscientific approach to alcohol reduction. 

Mindfulness-Based Interventions

Mindfulness-based interventions, such as mindfulness meditation or mindfulness-based relapse prevention, help individuals develop a non-judgmental awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and cravings. These practices promote self-compassion, stress reduction, and emotional regulation – providing individuals with valuable tools to navigate the challenges of recovery. 

Mindfulness, an ancient practice rooted in Buddhist traditions, has gained significant recognition for its potential in promoting overall well-being and facilitating positive change in various aspects of life. When applied to quitting drinking, mindfulness offers a transformative approach that fosters self-awareness, emotional regulation, and resilience. At its core, mindfulness involves intentionally bringing attention to the present moment without judgment. It emphasizes cultivating a non-reactive and non-judgmental stance towards thoughts, emotions, and sensations that arise.

The practice of mindfulness encourages individuals to accept their experiences, including challenging emotions and cravings, with kindness and self-compassion. By developing an attitude of acceptance, individuals can create space for healing and growth.

Mindfulness also enhances self-awareness, allowing individuals to observe their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations related to alcohol cravings. By developing a keen understanding of the triggers and underlying emotions associated with drinking, individuals can make more conscious choices and respond to cravings in a healthier manner.

Programs such as Recovery Dharma offer an approach based on Buddhist principles. Recovery Dharma was founded on, and inspired by, Buddhism that originated in India 

Holistic Approaches

Holistic treatments encompass a range of alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, art therapy, and nutritional counseling. These approaches recognize the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit, and aim to promote overall well-being and balance. Holistic treatments offer individuals additional tools and practices to support their recovery journey.


1:1 Coaching

One-on-one coaching has emerged as a powerful and effective resource in alcohol use disorder recovery. With its personalized approach, expert guidance, emotional support, and accountability, coaching provides individuals with the tools and support they need to navigate the challenges of recovery successfully. Whether as a standalone approach or as a complement to other treatment modalities, one-on-one coaching offers a valuable and tailored support system to help individuals overcome AUD and build a healthier and more fulfilling life.

The Benefits of 1:1 Coaching: Personalized Support and Accountability 

One-on-one coaching provides individuals with personalized support tailored to their specific needs. A coach works closely with the individual, understanding their unique challenges, goals, and aspirations. This level of personalized attention allows for a more targeted approach, ensuring that the individual receives the support they require to navigate the complexities of AUD recovery.

Expert Guidance and Knowledge

One-on-one coaching provides access to the expertise and knowledge of a trained professional who specializes in addiction recovery. Coaches are equipped with a deep understanding of AUD, the recovery process, and evidence-based strategies. They can offer insights, tools, and techniques to support individuals in their journey, help them develop coping mechanisms, build resilience, and navigate challenges effectively.

Emotional Support and Empathy

Dealing with AUD can be an emotionally challenging experience. One-on-one coaching offers a safe and supportive environment for individuals to express their emotions, fears, and concerns. Coaches provide a non-judgmental listening ear, empathy, and validation, which in turn creates a space for individuals to process their feelings and gain a sense of emotional support.

Goal Setting and Accountability

Coaches assist individuals in setting realistic and achievable goals related to their recovery. These goals can include – reducing alcohol consumption, implementing healthier coping mechanisms, improving relationships, and enhancing overall well-being. Coaches provide ongoing support and hold individuals accountable, which helps them stay focused and motivated on their path to recovery.

Identifying and Addressing Underlying Issues

AUD is often accompanied by underlying issues such as trauma, stress, and anxiety. Coaches are skilled at identifying these underlying factors and addressing them within the recovery process. By exploring and addressing the root causes of alcohol misuse, coaches support individuals in developing a solid foundation for sustainable recovery.

Flexibility and Tailored Approach

One of the most significant advantages of one-on-one coaching is its flexibility and adaptability. Coaches can tailor their approach to fit the individual's unique circumstances, preferences, and learning style. This customization ensures that individuals receive the support that resonates with them, promoting engagement and increasing the likelihood of success.

Continued Support and Relapse Prevention

Recovery is an ongoing journey and maintaining sobriety requires consistent support and relapse prevention strategies. One-on-one coaching provides individuals with continued support, even after the initial treatment or formal therapy ends. Coaches assist individuals in developing relapse prevention plans, providing tools and strategies to navigate triggers, manage cravings, and maintain long-term sobriety.

EverBlume provides one-on-one coaching based on small habit changes that lead to significant results. EverBlume is committed to understanding the individual's goals and creating a plan around that intention.

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Group Coaching

Community Support

Community support, such as group coaching, plays a vital role in the recovery journey by providing individuals with a sense of belonging, empathy, and guidance. It’s a crucial aspect of every recovery plan.

Shared Experience and Understanding

Community support allows individuals with AUD to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences. This shared understanding creates a sense of validation and reduces feelings of isolation and shame. Being surrounded by individuals who share the same struggles fosters a sense of empathy and provides a safe space to share thoughts, emotions, and challenges.

Sense of Belonging

Community support creates a sense of belonging and acceptance, which is crucial for individuals in recovery. Being part of a community that understands the recovery journey can boost self-esteem and motivation. Feeling connected to others who share similar goals and aspirations fosters a sense of camaraderie and provides a strong foundation for sustained recovery.

Validation and Empathy

Community support offers a space for individuals to express their emotions and concerns without fear of judgment. Peers who have experienced similar struggles can provide validation, understanding, and empathy. Sharing these experiences and receiving support can alleviate emotional distress and help individuals cope with the challenges of recovery.

Encouragement and Motivation

In a supportive community, individuals receive encouragement and motivation from others who have successfully overcome AUD or are deep in the process of recovery. Witnessing others' success stories and receiving positive reinforcement can boost individuals' confidence, strengthen their determination, and inspire them to persist on their own path to sobriety.

Education and Awareness

Community support groups often provide educational resources, workshops, and discussions related to AUD and recovery. These opportunities help individuals gain a deeper understanding of their condition, the recovery process, and the tools available to support their journey. Sharing knowledge and insights within the community can empower individuals to make informed decisions and engage in evidence-based recovery strategies.

Sharing Strategies and Coping Mechanisms

Within a supportive community, individuals can exchange practical strategies, coping mechanisms, and tips for managing cravings, triggers, and stress. Learning from others who have faced similar challenges can provide individuals with new approaches to navigating the complexities of recovery. This shared knowledge enhances individuals' coping skills and equips them with a range of tools to overcome obstacles.

Accountability Partnerships

Community support provides individuals with accountability partnerships. In this practice, peers hold each other responsible for their actions and commitments. Accountability partnerships help individuals stay focused on their recovery goals, maintain sobriety, and avoid relapse. The knowledge that others are invested in their success can strengthen individuals' commitment to their recovery journey. 

Sustained Motivation: Recovery is a long-term process that requires ongoing motivation and commitment. Being part of a supportive community provides individuals with the necessary encouragement and accountability to stay on track. It offers a network of people who can offer emotional support during challenging times and celebrate achievements along the way. The presence of a supportive community acts as a powerful motivator for individuals to continue their recovery journey.

Long-Term Support and Relapse Prevention

Recovery from AUD is an ongoing process, and community support offers long-term assistance. By participating in regular meetings, individuals can access continued support, gain insight into relapse prevention strategies, and stay connected to a network of individuals committed to sobriety. This ongoing support significantly increases the likelihood of sustained recovery.

Community support plays a vital role in alcohol use disorder recovery by offering individuals a sense of belonging, understanding, and encouragement. Through shared experiences, emotional support, knowledge sharing, and long-term accountability, community support creates an empowering environment for individuals to navigate the challenges of recovery successfully. By actively engaging in a supportive community, individuals can enhance their recovery journey, build resilience, and establish a solid foundation for a healthier and more fulfilling life – free from alcohol misuse.

EverBlume offers small group meetings with members matched based on what they are struggling with. For example, certain groups are dedicated to the first six months of recovery and establishing goals, while others are dedicated to lasting recovery further down the line. EverBlume offers 24/7 community access via a Slack channel where members can connect with each other outside of meetings to receive support and encouragement. 

A Combination of Approaches to Create the Perfect Non 12 Step Rehab Program

One approach to recovery from AUD does not necessarily exclude another. It’s important to remember that the most critical aspect of recovery lies in the presence of a supportive community that fosters understanding, empathy, and motivation.

By adopting a holistic approach that combines various modalities, healthcare professionals can address the physical, psychological, and social aspects of the disorder. This comprehensive care increases the likelihood of successful outcomes and minimizes the risk of relapse. Tailoring treatment plans to meet the specific requirements of each person enhances their chances of sustained recovery and addresses the underlying factors contributing to AUD.

Inclusivity is an essential aspect of treating AUD. Recognizing that there are diverse pathways to recovery ensures that individuals have access to a range of treatment options. What works for one person may not work for another.

Treatment modalities are magnified when combined with a supportive community. Building and engaging with a network of individuals who have experienced, or are experiencing, similar challenges plays a pivotal role in recovery. Supportive communities provide a sense of belonging, reduce stigma, and foster empathy and understanding. Peer support groups, such as EverBlume, offer guidance, encouragement, and non-judgmental space where individuals can share their struggles and successes. The presence of a supportive community not only provides emotional support during difficult times but also acts as a powerful motivator for individuals to maintain their recovery journey.  Long-term success in recovery is often linked to the involvement of a supportive community.

EverBlume provides both one-on-one coaching and community support through small group meetings and a 24/7 community support channel. The benefits of both resources cannot be overstated. Having a supportive community and an understanding professional to help you set and achieve goals is vital to the recovery process.

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