If people wish to escape addiction there will be a number of programs to choose from depending on where they live. 12 Step programs can be now found almost everywhere – even small towns will usually have a number of these groups to choose from. There are also an increasing number of alternative options to the 12 Steps available throughout the country. One such alternative is the Secular Organization for Recovery.
Secular Organization for Recovery as an Alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous
Secular Organization for Recovery (SOS) offers an alternative to the 12 Step Programs. It provides a secular solution and does not expect members to accept any religious or paranormal claims in order to become sober. Secular Organization for Recovery came into existence in 1985. James Christopher is credited with forming the first SOS group. He had personal experience with alcoholism but was unable to find a suitable recovery option. He originally attended Alcoholics Anonymous but stopped attending meetings because he did not feel comfortable with their spiritual approach. SOS is now just one of a number of recovery alternatives to AA.
SOS has no strict interpretation of what causes addiction. The general consensus is that it is a result of genetic as well as environmental influences. It does not actively discourage members from adopting the disease theory of addiction to explain their situation, but the majority of members would not subscribe to this model. SOS shares the AA view that alcoholics can never really be cured, and that the risk of relapse never fully goes away. Some members of SOS also attend AA meetings and this is acceptable.
SOS does have a number of general opinions on addiction recovery including:
* Sobriety is a separate issue form spirituality or religion.
* It is up to the individual to maintain their own sobriety – nobody else can make them return to substance abuse. In other words, relapse is always a choice.
* People do not need a higher power in order to become sober.
* SOS respects any recovery method that will help people escape their addiction. The group does not claim to be in competition with any other recovery method.
* SOS favors using the scientific method to find the best solutions to addiction.
* Members are encouraged to be skeptical about the different recovery options. This skepticism means a healthy doubting in recovery and not cynicism where people dismiss things out of hand.
* While it is true that each individual is responsible for their own sobriety it does not mean that they have to deal with the challenge alone. The members of SOS are there to support one another, and this can be a tremendous help.
SOS offers the following guidelines for those people who hope to build a life away from addiction:
* In order to escape the cycle of denial and substance abuse the individual has to acknowledge that they have a problem.
* The individual has to accept that they cannot drink no matter what – this commitment is something that they should reaffirm every day.
* The fact that substance abuse is no longer an option means that the individual has to make sobriety their lifelong priority.
* Life in recovery is sure to be full of ups and downs. No matter what happens the individual does not drink.
* It is good for members to share their sober experiences with other members – such sharing should be kept confidential.
* Each individual is fully responsible for their own sobriety.
* The only goal of SOS is to help people stay sober.
Anyone who is serious about quitting alcohol or drug addictions will be welcome in SOS.
One of the key ideas in SOS is that sobriety must always be the priority for people who wish to stay sober. This is because if they return to addiction they are likely to lose everything. Once people give up alcohol they need to focus on those things that will keep them sober and avoid anything that could lead them back to the misery of addiction.
There is not as yet one recovery option that suits everyone. This means that each individual will need to find the recovery option that works best for them. There are many people who feel that groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are the best option, but there are plenty of other individuals who struggle with this approach. SOS can be a good option because:
* Those people who do not hold any religious or spiritual beliefs can be put off by talk of a higher power in AA. To such individuals the 12 Step program can feel like a bit of a religious cult, and they will resist it.
* Many people will already have tried the 12 Step program and failed to achieve lasting sobriety. They may feel that it is better to try a different approach this time.
* SOS is far more open to scientific discoveries than groups like AA. If better methods become available for treating addiction then these can be adapted.
* SOS is not a either/or solution. It is perfectly acceptable that people mix SOS meetings with most other recovery programs.
* Members of SOS recognize that there are different paths in recovery. This means that they are less fixated on prescribing their path for other people.
The Secular Organization for Sobriety is just one of many alternatives to the 12 Step program. Other options include:
* Rational Recovery encourages members to stop believing that they have a disease called addiction. This program also discourages attendance at support groups because these reinforce the idea that the individual is suffering from a disease called alcoholism.
* Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART) offers a four point program to help people get over any form of addiction. This group does believe in using meetings for support and education purposes.
* There are many people who have managed to go it alone in recovery. This does not seem to be a solution that can work for everyone.