Alcoholism groups in NYC that are Not AA?
May 19, 2013 9:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for non-AA alcoholism treatment groups (non-residential) in New York City (preferably Manhattan or Brooklyn ) for someone who is AA-averse.

The individual seeking this treatment is rejecting AA because he is tired of hearing "war stories" (covertly competitive stories about how much damage the individuals wreaked before giving up booze) and also finds it difficult to figure out how to get a sponsor and really take part in the structure.

Low-cost would be great, although there is health insurance that might be available.

There is also the possibility that an AA group exists that is different from the groups he's tried, as per the above, so if anyone can recommend such an AA group in NYC, that might be a possibility too. thanks.
posted by DMelanogaster to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
I am not in NYC or even USA but my experience may help.
I coulldn't abide AA for the same reason. I went for a combination of one to one counselling every week for 3 months followed up with a year of weekly group sessions with the same therapist.

The joy of the group sessions was that as they were therapist led, war stories were not tolerated and the "professional druks" were not allowed to dominate them.

I am 5 years in to being happy and sober. I wish your pal all the best in their efforts.
posted by BenPens at 10:39 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Your friend might find the SMART Recovery program helpful. It's based on REBT (CBT) principles. Meetings are led by trained facilitators, so war stories and inappropriate conduct get shut down licketysplit. Some meetings are led by addiction therapists who also work in private practice.

It's a rational, nuts-and-bolts, woo-free and step-free approach. You go when you need it; if you no longer need it, there is no guilt/pressure to return to the fold. Meetings are free (pass the hat donations), and there are quite a few in NYC.
posted by nacho fries at 11:11 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

What is he trying to get out of the process? IE, what kind of support does he need or think he needs?
posted by gjc at 11:15 AM on May 19, 2013

He wants to be able to stop drinking.
posted by DMelanogaster at 1:32 PM on May 19, 2013

Stopping drinking is easy, not starting again is the hard part. The whole point of the war stories is to remind everyone how bad alcoholism is. To keep the downsides top of mind so that when someone has the urge to drink again, they will remember how it plays out. AA, and probably most other addiction groups, require attendees to be dry (AFAIK). So a group isn't going to convince him to stop, because he will already have had to stop to get in the door.

I understand the desire to not want to hear war stories. But that's the difference between being dry and being sober. A sober person can hear the stories and not have much beyond a passing desire to drink, because sobriety is a decision they made. Someone who is merely dry, on the other hand, is white knuckling it; just ignoring the urges and hoping they will go away, and/or dreaming about the next drink they will be able to have. They are still thinking like a drunk and depending on sheer willpower to not drink. But that can't last- nobody's willpower is strong enough to resist all the time, forever. They can go years, even decades, but the instant their willpower fades, they are right back where they left off because they did nothing to fix what is broken inside of them. The key to sobriety is remodeling one's thought processes away from addictive thoughts and behaviors.

So a more clear question would have to be, what is missing? What is stopping him from maintaining sobriety? He has to want to live a sober life and identify what the obstacles to that are. Once he does that, you and he can figure out what help he needs. If he is truly a mess and can't control his actions at the moment, then he probably needs some time in rehab.
posted by gjc at 7:59 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

[Let's stick to the OP's request for recommendations for AA alternatives (or specific recommended AA groups) in NYC; thanks.]
posted by taz at 12:15 AM on May 20, 2013

The problem with the war stories is that this person is smart enough to know that they romanticize the life of the addict.
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:01 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

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