Alcohol addiction programs first emerged in the 1930s with the start of Alcoholics’ Anonymous or AA groups. From there, Alcoholics’ Anonymous set the standard for helping recovering alcoholics remain abstinent on a long-term basis. The AA philosophy places a heavy emphasis on relinquishing control to God or a Higher Power.
While AA has worked wonders in the lives of many recovering alcoholics, not everyone in need of treatment adheres to Christian spiritual practices. The resulting development of alternative approaches for use in alcohol addiction programs offers a variety of different treatment approaches.
An estimated 38 percent of recovering alcoholics report using alternative alcohol addiction programs, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Some alternative alcohol addiction programs may incorporate the 12-Step structure, while others take an altogether different approach.
Here are the top five alcohol addiction programs that don’t use a 12-Step support structure.
1. SMART Recovery
The SMART recovery approach uses tools and techniques applied in business management practices to help recovering alcoholics maintain abstinence. This program focuses on “positivity” as a means for realigning a person’s outlook to that of a healthy lifestyle as opposed to the introspective, faultfinding approach used in traditional 12-Step programs.
Rather than focus solely on alcohol, drugs or any particular activity-based addiction (gambling, shopping, etc.), SMART Recovery groups remain open to anyone who’s dealing with an addiction problem.
2. Orthomolecular Treatment Programs
An orthomolecular treatment program views molecular imbalances within the body as the cause for alcohol addiction. While traditional 12-Step alcohol addiction programs focus on a person’s emotional, behavioral and spiritual development, the orthomolecular treatment approach uses vitamin and supplement therapies as means for restoring molecular balance throughout the body. In particular, this program attempts to correct for glucose imbalances and the way the body metabolizes sugars.
3. HAMS Program
The acronym “HAMS” stands for harm reduction, abstinence, moderation and support. HAMS operates as a peer-led support group that uses practical strategies designed to reduce the negative consequences of alcoholism and other high-risk behaviors.
Rather than requiring complete abstinence from drinking, HAMS meets a person where he or she is at in recovery. Through compassionate peer supports, HAMS encourages members to reduce their alcohol consumption based on their own individual levels.
4. LifeRing Recovery
LifeRing alcohol addiction programs are based on a positive social reinforcement approach. Using a support group model, members develop individual steps and goals that structure or map out their recovery paths. Through group work, members take turns relaying experiences had in their daily lives and discuss different ways of managing difficult issues. Members develop action plans for the upcoming week and discuss related progress and/or setbacks.
5. Biochemical Treatment Programs
Biochemical treatment programs see a person’s body chemistry as the source of alcohol addiction. Certain biochemical vulnerabilities may make a person more susceptible to alcoholism. This alcohol addiction program approach uses natural cures designed to heal imbalances in the body on a biochemical level.
Possible causes of biochemical imbalance include:
- Poor nutrition
- Environmental toxins
- Chronic stress
While natural remedies act as the primary method of treatment, biochemical treatment programs also incorporate other practices, some of which include:
- Psychological counseling
- Nutritional counseling
- Meditation practices