What Are the Alternatives to AA When it Doesn’t Work?

Alternatives To Aa

Non-12-Step Recovery Using a More Holistic Approach

Why AA doesnt work? The core answer to this question lies in understanding that a person is not defined by their addiction – this is an essential step to determining the right kind of specialized help that treats the whole person.

This involves identifying the underlying cause of the behavior and breaking it by combining traditional behavioral therapies with holistic ones that promote a healthy, active mind, body, and soul.

Don’t be satisfied to simply look for addictive behavior reasons and work to break those habits with individual and support group counseling. A holistic approach goes a step further and works toward complete healing.

After all, a sick body cannot ward off disease—even ones created by drug and alcohol abuse.

The same is true for the spirit. When emotional scars break the spirit, alcohol addiction and drug abuse often results.

But, when the recovery process includes ways to soothe those feelings and heal those hurts on a cellular level, the patient is better equipped to break free from their addiction.

Using a combined approach that integrates

In combination with more traditional addiction counseling, many inpatient rehab programs strive to serve its patients by incorporating a whole-body approach to their alcohol addiction treatment, offering strategies for:

  • beating stress
  • boosting immunities
  • bolstering self-esteem

So, what non-12 step drug addiction treatment and smart recovery options are available for those who have tried AA and found it tackling something they needed to succeed?
Here are a few options that may be available at the inpatient rehab treatment center:

Evidence-Based Clinical Practices

The cornerstone of almost every addiction treatment program, evidence-based clinical therapy options like:

  • support group therapy
  • individual therapy
  • motivational interviewing
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT)
  • crisis intervention
  • family counseling

Each of the above can assist in treating addiction. Each therapy style offers a different approach, geared toward individuals and their underlying cause for the addiction.

That is why it is vital to use them when recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. But that does not mean that every therapy will work for every patient.

By choosing the type of therapy best suited to the individual patient, those who have fallen victim to addictive behavior can discover their triggers and find concrete solution strategies for overcoming them.

Holistic Healing

When it comes to healing both mind and body, a more holistic approach has proven successful for centuries.  

The art of Traditional Chinese Medicine is just one approach that people have turned to for relief of everything from a basic headache to curing cancer. 

While once considered out-of-the-norm, these holistic treatments are becoming more and more popular these days—especially concerning a drug problem or alcohol use disorder.

By concentrating less on the disease and more on the whole person, these types of non-traditional therapies help refocus the healing process on what’s happening throughout the client’s body, mind, and spirit to manage their alcohol or drug addiction better and find complete healing. 

When it comes to taking a more total-body (and natural) approach to professional substance abuse treatment, several recovery options are available to patients, including both the simplest forms of help to more intense ones. 

Not sure what is available? Here are a few of the most common options those facing addiction rehabilitation may want to consider:

The Nutrition Factor

Drug and alcohol addiction wreak havoc on every system in the body. Add to that the fact that most people in the throes of alcoholism starve their bodies of essential vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive. 

This coupled with a bombardment of chemicals, and every cell in the human body begins to break down. This can lead to all sorts of chronic conditions and diseases.

This is why fixing a lousy diet is vital when it comes to treating the whole person. When the body is out-of-whack, it can seem impossible to heal. 

But, give the body what it needs, and real healing is possible. This doesn’t stop with learning how to eat right. 

It also includes an integrated approach to rebalancing minerals, chemicals, and hormones. This begins by developing an excellent nutritional plan filled with healthy foods geared toward internal healing. 

This includes a basic education on the importance of healthy eating, and an overview of the types of vitamins and minerals the body needs to thrive. 

By learning how to eat correctly, the patient can begin to control their health and wellness.

Body Rejuvenation Therapy

All-too-often, addiction strips the body of the vital vitamins and minerals it needs to work correctly. Replenishing this supply is essential to good health as well as the overall healing process.

An all-natural approach to restoring the proper mix of vitamins and minerals to cells so they can work at peak capacity, body rejuvenation therapy is a way to:

  • regulate a clients’ mood
  • reverse feelings of depression and anxiety
  • relieve stress and regulate hormones
  • restore the body’s natural ability to produce the right amounts of serotonin and dopamine.

This is done by replenishing cellular deficiencies through a process called Biochemical Imbalance Repair, which uses individualized supplements to feed a client’s cells and organs with minerals that have been lost during the alcohol or drug addiction.

Mindfulness Matters

Living in the moment can seem impossible in this fast-paced world. When drugs and alcohol are added to the mix, emotions and feelings can run rampant, causing cloudy thinking and poor decisions.

But, when a patient can find ways to stay present in the here and now, and enjoy the moment, they can find a sense of peace and calmness that only aids in their addiction recovery.

How can someone who has always relied on drugs and alcohol to find a sense of peace do it on their own? Here are a few strategies that can be helpful:

Meditation: An excellent way to fend off drug cravings and soothe those inner demons is by practicing meditation. Offering a way to relax and experience real calmness, meditation helps clients find peace and internal tolerance in a nonjudgmental manner.

Prayer: It does not matter whether the patient is religious or not. Having the ability to turn to a higher power can empower those struggling emotionally with substance abuse.

Breathing: The way you breathe can have an impact on how you feel. Learning how to use specific deep breathing exercises can be calming, allowing the patient to focus on healing safely and effectively.

Yoga: Addiction is the result of an imbalance in the body, which yoga can fix. Yoga offers a relaxing way for those undergoing addiction recovery to quiet the mind and replace feelings of helplessness into confidence and strength.

Often used in conjunction with deep breathing and meditation, yoga helps the patient center themselves to concentrate on the task at hand.

Massage: Those in the process of breaking their addictive behaviors often harbor a lot of stress. The toll detoxification can take on the body can also be challenging to manage. Massage is a powerful way to soothe a chaotic mind and heal a broken body.

Massage therapy helps boost circulation, decrease tensions, and soothe the aches and pains associated with detoxing substances from the body.

Aromatherapy:  A centuries-old therapy option that uses vaporized essential oils to relieve stress and offer a calming environment to heal.

Commonly used during the detoxification process and meditation and other activities, aromatherapy offers yet another complementary therapy to help augment the journey of addiction healing.
Its benefits include:

  • alleviating withdrawal symptoms
  • offering mental clarity
  • stress relief
  • better sleep
  • overall relaxation
Art & Music Therapy

Not every patient can express themselves verbally with a counselor. For those who find sharing their feelings difficult, music and art therapy can help. 

Aimed at providing a safe and non-judgmental way for clients to open up and express themselves, facing some of the issues which drove them toward their addictive behaviors in the first place.


A cornerstone of addiction therapy, exercise offers patients the ability to strengthen their bodies while also finding new ways to feel good about themselves internally. 

From the most straightforward activity like walking to more strenuous hard-core activities like Cross-Fit, using various forms of exercise to augment therapy helps patients build self-esteem while also rebalancing their inner and outer beings while rebuilding their bodies for a stronger self.

Adventure and Experiential Therapy

Those who find themselves thrust in the middle of a drug or alcohol addiction often discover that they have lost sight of anything beyond themselves. 

But, by reentering the world and experiencing nature at its fullest, patients begin to refocus their thoughts and change their actions more calmly. 

Adventure and Experiential Therapy takes the patient out into the natural world to discover the calming splendor it has to offer. This can include long hikes in the woods, rock climbing, surfing, or any other activity done outdoors.  

By exerting themselves in a natural environment, patients learn how to process stress and fill their leisure time more productively while enjoying the outdoors in a new and exciting way.

If there is one thing to be learned from the non 12 step alcohol treatment options available these days, there is no one-way solution to getting and staying free from a drug or alcohol dependence. 

The healing process can take many different avenues, and the journey each individual takes depends a great deal on their circumstances, personality, and comfort level. 

If you want to keep your sobriety and quit drinking. The key to attaining success is finding the program that is the right fit for each patient.

Why AA May Not Be For Everyone

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) works for many people. But some simply need a different approach to addiction recovery. 

When faced with the need to look beyond attending an AA meeting for help, many people struggle with knowing what alternatives to AA or addiction treatment programs are available.

Known as the kingpin of substance abuse recovery programs, Alcoholics Anonymous has been used by millions to kick their drug abuse habits. But what about those who prefer a different approach to their alcohol use disorder?

After studying a myriad of different non-12-step drug recovery programs, researchers concluded that many do work but that their differences need to be considered when recommending substance abuse treatment to patients.  

Without commitment and a cohesive plan that includes support and accountability (plus the ability to work through the problems that led to the addiction), no therapy option is going to work. 

Every addiction (and its underlying cause) is unique, which sometimes means taking a different approach toward healing. 

For those seeking a different approach to recovery programs, there are plenty of non 12 step alcohol treatment programs that work—even when AA doesn’t. Contact Elevate Rehab treatment center today to learn more about holistic treatments!

Alok Krishna Md Medical Review E1609434241710
Medically reviewed by
Alok Krishna, MD

  • Overcome Addiction at Elevate Addiction Services

    Elevate is currently offering immediate enrollment in inpatient, outpatient, or telehealth programs. Reach out today to learn more.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Elevate Locations

Treatment Resources

elevate addiction services logo
Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.
elevate addiction services logo
Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.