Ask Dr. Drew: What advice can you give someone who recognizes that peer support is essential to recovery but has such a strong aversion to AA (and where SMART and RR aren't readily available)?

Dr. Drew Q&A series

I have no objections to SMART Recovery and Rational Recovery. However, I would caution the individual who is asking this question that this may be his disease operating again. It’s common for people to resist going to 12-step—it’s their disease saying, ‘I don’t want to stop.’ People will often say, ‘I’ll go to any measures, I’ll do anything,’ until someone says, ‘Go to a meeting.’ Then they say, ‘Well, except that.’

So as soon as you start making exceptions, you have to wonder if that’s your disease. If you look at what your issues are with AA, you can usually find meetings that are more in line with your belief system. There’s nothing rigid about the 12-step process. It’s ultimately really just a way of dealing with control and learning how to tolerate intimate connection with other humans. That’s all it really is. Why would you resist that? It doesn’t even make sense.

Now, okay, let’s say you still have a problem with it. Go to Rational Recovery, go to SMART Recovery, but why not go to AA in the meantime while you look for some other meeting? Certainly you can go to individual therapy but the research shows very clearly that long-term recovery is better when there’s 12-step involved. That’s just the data—that’s the research. If you’re serious about your recovery, why wouldn’t you find reasons to belong, rather than reasons to exclude yourself?

Dr. Drew

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