Although Alcoholics Anonymous and other abstinence-based 12-step programs are the primary form of treatment for alcoholism in the United States, many people are unable to stick with them and return to dependence on alcohol.
Today there are alternatives to 12-step programs. Some treatment programs teach problem drinkers to reduce their drinking, an approach that appeals to people who otherwise might not seek treatment. These programs are based on the belief that people can change their drinking behaviors.
To be successful at moderation or abstinence requires effort and a commitment to change. You should take into account the severity of your drinking problem and any medical, psychological, or other conditions that would be made worse by drinking, even in moderation. If you're unsure of the best program for you, ask your health care provider or a substance abuse counselor for advice.
Information regarding alternative approaches to alcoholism is available on the following sites:
Alcohol Management. Alcohol Management is a confidential program that helps people eliminate drinking problems by reducing drinking or stopping altogether. This program isn't for those who are severely dependent or alcoholic and require treatment approaches rather than educational ones.
Harm Reduction Therapy Center. The Harm Reduction approach helps users set and meet their own goals for gaining control over drinking and drugs. This organization helps people determine which aspects of their drinking habits may be harmful, what they would like to change and how to put their intentions into action.
Moderation Management. Moderation Management is a recovery program and national support group network for people who have made the decision to reduce their drinking and make other positive lifestyle changes.
Rational Recovery. Rational Recovery uses a method called Addictive Voice Recognition Technique, a behavioral program that can be self-administered through self-help books and seminars.
SMART Recovery. The goal of SMART Recovery is to build skills in people so they can maintain abstinence. It's for those who like a do-it-yourself approach with very little structure.
Addiction Alternatives. Addiction Alternatives practices the philosophy that one can learn how to overcome addiction without stopping drinking forever.
Behavior Therapy Associates. This site offers a list of therapists across the country who help people practice moderation in drinking alcohol, as well as software and publications to help with problem drinking.