Getting Sober: Exploring Recovery Program Options

Recovery Programs

When I decided to get sober, I sought help from a recovery program to help me stop drinking. Based on countless “whiteknuckle” attempts at sobriety on my own, I realized I could not do it alone and I needed help. In my desperation, I decided to give a recovery program a try — even though every fiber of my being didn’t want to.

But once I had some time in a program, I realized just how fundamentally screwed up my thinking was. Not only did I have zero self esteem, I was trapped in cyclical anxious thoughts that always led to a drink. If I were to get sober, I had to change how I thought. So, while I entered a recovery program for my drinking, I stayed for my thinking. My recovery program was instrumental in helping me make radical behavioral and emotional changes and thanks to it, I do not want to drink today. 

There are countless programs available and here, we highlight a few of the most popular options. All you need is an open mind and shred of willingness, and the help is there. And most programs are free and available online, so you wouldn’t even have to leave the house, or open your wallet. 

12-Step Programs

12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer a structured, spiritual approach to overcoming substance abuse by “working” the steps in the program. The Twelve Steps provide a spiritual framework for recovery and personal growth, emphasizing principles such as admitting powerlessness over addiction, surrendering to a higher power, making amends for past wrongs, and helping others who struggle with addiction. The steps are typically worked through in a sequential manner, with individuals encouraged to work with a sponsor— a more experienced member of the program who provides guidance and support. These programs include literature, online and in-person meetings and community support. There are no dues or fees for membership in any 12-step program, though they do collect voluntary donations.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a global community of mutual support groups that offer a science-based approach to overcoming addiction and problematic behaviors. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. SMART Recovery relies on evidence-based techniques rooted in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and other scientific principles. Participants learn practical tools and coping strategies to manage addictive behaviors. SMART Recovery offers a variety of tools and techniques, allowing participants to tailor their recovery plan to their individual needs and preferences. While many traditional recovery programs incorporate spiritual or religious elements, SMART Recovery is secular and “stigma free.” 

Recovery Dharma

Recovery Dharma is a Buddhist-inspired program based on the “4 Noble Truths” that uses meditation, meetings, philosophy and a system called “The Practice” to aid in recovery. This mindfulness-based addiction recovery program integrates Buddhist principles and practices with traditional recovery methods. The program aims to provide a holistic approach to addiction recovery by addressing the underlying causes of addiction, promoting self-awareness, and cultivating mindfulness and compassion.


LifeRing Secular Recovery, often referred to simply as LifeRing, is another alternative support group for individuals seeking recovery from addiction. Like SMART Recovery, LifeRing provides a secular, non-religious approach to recovery, which may appeal to those who prefer a non-spiritual path. LifeRing offers a supportive and inclusive community for individuals seeking a non-religious approach to recovery. It provides a space where people can share their experiences, find encouragement, and learn practical strategies for maintaining sobriety and improving their lives.


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