Choose the AA or a Sober Group to Ditch the Alcohol, the Choice is Yours


It’s a life-changing decision to give up alcohol if you have been drinking for years. It’s a life-changing decision to choose a support group or individual to help you through this change, in the transition from drinking to sobriety.  For big drinkers, giving up alcohol is an enormous step in the right direction, but it comes with a whole heap of grief and regret, mourning and depression. It means that the only way forward is to find like-minded people, to connect and to share, to move away from the pain, the guilt and the shame to a new life of hope and wellness.

It’s a Personal Choice – A Sober Group or the AA

On that note, it’s your choice whether you choose Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to get better in recovery, or a sober group or a private therapist or coach. Some people choose friends or family members to assist them. It’s a choice. In this blog, I will look at the differences between the AA and a sober group and it is important to point out that neither one is wrong or right, but that it depends on the individual and their needs and what is right for them.

“I went to AA for 18 months so can speak from experience,” said Sue, now a Tribe Sober devotee. “There are good things about the AA and it works for some. I personally don’t like the disease model and being a ‘recovering alcoholic’ for the rest of my life! There is nothing wrong with me and I am now a ‘non-drinker’”.

Since Sue joined Tribe Sober, a community of people who are changing their relationship with alcohol, and a tribe of like-minded individuals who want an alcohol-free life, her views about the modern sobriety movement have evolved. She believes that:

  1. Sober groups are positive and not fear-based.
  2. Neuroscience knows now that we can make new neural pathways and create new habits where we no longer WANT to drink rather than trying to NOT drink.
  3. Sober groups encourage people to find what works for them, no strict rules of what you MUST do.
  4. Everyone is an individual and what works for one will not be what works for another.

Many people benefit from attending AA meetings and becoming part of its warm fellowship. Alcoholics Anonymous means just that, a place where people with drinking problems can come together and be anonymous if they choose, to share their experiences, gain strength and hope to ditch the booze and start new lives. The AA started in 1963 when the term ‘alcoholics’ was the only term used for people who drank too much. Today, the term ‘alcohol use disorder’ is a softer term most people prefer to use, as well as ‘grey area drinking’.



The fact of the matter is that some people are alcoholics and need professional help. The AA has many critics, but the positives are bright – drinkers join groups led by peers who have recovered, and each participant gets a ‘sponsor’ or guide to show them the way in their own time. The AA was criticized for being a religious movement, but this no longer applies – the 12 Steps encourage participants to choose a God or higher spiritual power to turn to, to appreciate the power of the universe and their lowly place in it.

The AA is Famous for its 12-Step Programme

The AA 12 Steps go like this:

  1. Honesty

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

  1. Hope

“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

  1. Faith

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

  1. Courage

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

  1. Integrity

“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

  1. Willingness

“We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

  1. Humility

“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

  1. Love

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

  1. Discipline

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

  1. Perseverance

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

  1. Spirituality

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

  1. Service

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Remember that every individual on this planet has a unique perception of life, other people, the AA and a higher spiritual power so there is no point arguing over such issues but to rather grasp what suits you and embrace your recovery in your own way!

An Alternative Sober Group is Dynamic

I personally find it fascinating that most people who choose alternative sober groups to the AA come from privileged backgrounds, are usually well-educated, well-employed and earning excellent incomes. They are usually married, older, and not as dependent on drugs, psychiatric issues and other mental problems as people from more disadvantaged walks of life are.

Alternative sober groups often don’t talk about complete abstinence but about ‘moderation’ and personal recovery processes. Many people who join alternative self-help groups seem to do well and ditch the booze eventually, with wellness being their next life goal. Many AA members seem to get stuck there, attending meetings every week for most of their lives, and maybe clinging to something that they are still nostalgic about. A good way to find out how to stop drinking is to research your issue and get help then decide which path is your best route. The AA does have its benefits, though, no matter what the critics believe!

Other benefits of AA are:

  • Meetings are free.
  • There is no obligation to join.
  • You can go as often as you wish to any meeting, in any location.
  • There are no intrusive questions or obligations.
  • You can retain anonymity.
  • Open to everyone regardless of race, religion or beliefs.
  • It creates a network of support.

Another member of Tribe Sober is Ellen who thinks that the AA got her started off with the change of her mind around alcohol. So, as a first point of contact, it was good. “I went the entire rehab route first and then with the AA. My personal experience was, and this is just from my point of view, that I felt like a naughty child who needed to be disciplined. That brought out the rebel in me and thus I felt like I just wanted to start drinking again (which I did after a month with AA). I don’t blame them, I didn’t really in my mind decide that I wanted to stay sober at that stage.”

She adds that she didn’t really feel that she wanted to think of herself as an alcoholic or an addict her entire life. “AA meetings were a bit scary, most of them were in the evenings at community centres or churches. I never really felt welcome or comfortable (also just my own experience). I also found the Big Book and 12 Steps a bit negative as you had to look back and relive all your crazy moments and make amends. That was a trigger to me because it made me feel worse.”

As I mentioned earlier, every single individual has unique perceptions in life, based on their personal life experiences since birth! The AA may not work for some, but it can work for others, and the same goes for Sobriety Groups.

Sobriety Groups Give Hope

Says Jane: “With sobriety groups like Tribe Sober, I joined a community of like-minded positive friends. The outlook is positive and future-focused. The literature is easy to read and understand and even fun to read. It is not so scary to join because you feel welcome, and the conversations are intellectual. It’s even more accessible to moms and everyday “normal” people who might feel like they have a “problem” and they’re just curious. You don’t feel like a naughty child, and just by seeing how others are healthy and thriving, you are inspired and encouraged to embrace the lifestyle. It’s much more health-focused. You have wonderful mentors to look up to who share their positive stories.”

Jane prefers that it is NOT anonymous and that members can connect with people in their area and even people who are in the same situations they are. She agrees that the AA has its place, perhaps for those with a very serious problem and they need it to start off. But she chooses a sustainable community support group that she can be part of for a lifetime – so sobriety groups are much better for her.

The AA Can Set Some People Back

Janet is adamant that the AA turns you into a victim. “Being told I was powerless and being asked to label myself an alcoholic went completely against my feminist principles and my identity as an empowered woman!” she exclaims.

Mon agrees that the conversations at the AA meetings she attended always focused on the past. “I’ve never been one for textbook learning and that is what put me off reading ‘The Big Book’. I found myself feeling like I was in a ‘do or die’ program with AA whereas modern sobriety groups have taught me that sobriety is a wonderful journey that focuses on moving forward without shame and guilt.”

Joey went to an AA meeting in her late twenties. There were very few women there and she felt like a bit of a novelty to the men there.  “I am sure it wouldn’t be the case now in my fifties, but it was not a nice experience as I felt very vulnerable. It felt shameful.”

On that note, remember that life is full of choices and your personal journey of recovery is yours alone. Get advice, do the research, try a few groups, including the AA, and see which support platform is best for YOU!

These are our top 5 online sobriety groups which offer unique assistance to people who want to stop drinking and choose a sober life:

  1. Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life for a community of people who are changing their relationship with alcohol.
  2. Sobersistas – practical support for women who drink too much, showing them how to access the most loving approach to their own sobriety – Jules Rutherford.
  3. Recovery Buddha – supporting women in need of recovery using unique healing practises in what they call a ‘Recovery Awakening’; the magnificence of self-awakening in recovery; realigning with our ‘Buddha nature’ – returning to the love and goodness that has always been within ourselves.
  4. The Temper – explores life through the lens of sobriety, addiction, and recovery, existing to show people in all of their power, and as agents of their own recovery.
  5. Annie Grace This Naked Mind – 100 Days of Lasting Change Challenge – This Naked Mind offers a new, positive solution with Annie Grace who looks at the psychological and neurological components of alcohol use based on the latest science.



The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

Don’t wait for 11 years – join Tribe Sober today!