If Alcoholics Anonymous isn't for you, try one of these groups instead.
The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that nearly 15 million Americans age 12 or older struggle with alcohol abuse. For decades, if you wanted to get sober, that meant going to an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting or other in-person support group.
The spiritual 12-step program encourages members to admit they've lost power to alcohol and to turn their lives over to a higher power. While AA is historically successful and community-driven, not everyone finds a home there.
Plus, not everyone who struggles with alcohol use is clinically addicted: Anyone, regardless of their drinking habits, can feel like alcohol takes a toll on their mental and physical health, work life, relationships and more.
Because there's no one-size-fits-all treatment for alcohol addiction, a handful of companies, many of them startups, have recognized that and developed different methods for achieving sobriety. If you're looking for new support group or an additional program to complement one you're already in, take a look at these five sober living communities that aren't AA.
Tempest Sobriety School is an eight-week virtual course created by founder Holly Whitaker, who struggled through a years-long phase of alcohol and drug addiction, bulimia, severe anxiety and depression. Whitaker attempted to keep her difficulties under wraps as she worked a high-profile job in health tech, but eventually it all became too much and she decided to get help.
Except she couldn't find help in a way that worked for her -- AA wasn't her jam and inpatient/outpatient care cost way too much. So she created Tempest, which provides a mobile, self-directed yet supported method to get and stay sober. The course includes weekly live sessions, weekly recorded lectures, Q&A sessions, daily guided meditations, intention-setting and more.
Whitaker makes it clear that Tempest is not a replacement for a 12-step program, but she also makes it clear that Tempest is not just for those who are clinically addicted to alcohol. Tempest costs $547 for the eight-week program, so there's definitely an out-of-pocket cost, but it may be well worth it if you're trying to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol.
"It's not a sad consequence; it's a proud choice," the website reads, referring to sobriety. "There is a commonly held belief that sobriety is the consequence of bad behavior or inability to control our liquor. We don't see it that way."
Loosid, a sober social network, was built with the idea that sober living is often tough. Even though more and more people are realizing that sobriety increases health and happiness, the majority of people still drink as a social activity. With Loosid, you can find new sober friends and even a sober significant other, as well as discover sober events, destinations and groups near you.
Loosid isn't an alternative to a 12-step program like AA, and it definitely isn't an alternative to an inpatient or outpatient addiction recovery program, but the app can certainly serve as a secondary support group. Loosid can be a primary support group if you've already completed an addiction recovery program or if you don't struggle with clinical addiction but want to change your drinking habits.
Life is easier when you have friends who share the same perspectives and lifestyles -- Loosid recognized that and created a safe space for people who want to live sober. You can get the app on iOS or Android for free.
Hello Sunday Morning is based in Sydney, Australia, and available worldwide. It got its start when founder Chris Raine undertook a challenge to abstain from alcohol for one year. He started a blog about his journey, always signing off with "Hello, Sunday Morning!" when he successfully made it another week without a hangover.
The Hello Sunday Morning community grew bigger each year, until the company launched Daybreak, an app that fosters a global community of "people working together to change their relationship with alcohol in an anonymous, safe and secure environment." Funded by the Australian Government's Department of Health, Daybreak is free in Australia and costs AU$12.99 ($8) per month internationally.
Like Tempest, Hello Sunday Morning recognizes that you don't need to have a clinical addiction in order to change your drinking habits. Whether you just want to learn how to limit your drinking, take a break or just better understand alcohol use, Hello Sunday Morning can help.
Another sober social network, Soberocity offers a hybrid platform that's largely digital but also has live events. The Soberocity founders felt that the sober community was underserved on the web, so they built a space that supports people in recovery, as well as people who pursue sobriety for the beneficial health effects or for any other reason.
Once you create an account with Soberocity, you're able to browse the extensive list of sober events. Some events are created by Soberocity admins, but members are welcome to submit their own events to the calendar.
As a member, you can also access "The Wall," a forum where members of the community post stories, ideas, questions and discussions about recovery and sobriety. Soberocity is free to join.
Club Soda created the Mindful Drinking Movement, which takes the concept of mindfulness, which people have applied liberally to food and mental health, and applies it to alcohol. The platform has an educational blog, online courses, a sober events calendar and a private Facebook group a few thousand members strong.
The cool thing about Club Soda is that this community doesn't completely banish or scorn drinking. The masterminds behind Club Soda know that many people can manage to drink a little alcohol and still control their lives, reach their goals and make smart decisions.
Essentially, Club Soda wants people who do drink to be more mindful of their drinking habits and empower those who don't drink to stick to their guns. Club Soda also wants establishments that serve alcohol to make their environments more friendly for sober people -- to "be more adaptable and respect a wider range of drinking behaviours." Membership costs about $20 per month. Download the community app on the App Store or on Google Play.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, reach out to a doctor, mental health professional, family member, friend, or helpline. The national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration Helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.