July 14, 2023 – Whenever a movie or television show depicts a person attending a recovery meeting, it is invariably AA. The vast majority of treatment facilities offer only 12-step programs; very few even make their clients aware of alternative options. When complying with probation or parole requirements, people are often mandated to have an AA (or Narcotics Anonymous) sponsor. But sponsors are not a part of most secular options.

In my work as Minnesota outreach coordinator for SMART Recovery, I deal on a daily basis with people who prefer a secular treatment program. SMART Recovery holds thousands of meetings worldwide, operates in 35 countries and has a handbook that has been translated into 17 languages. But it is still difficult to escape AA’s shadow and bring more awareness to those who might benefit from an alternative.