Her Best-Kept Secret

Alternatives to A.A.

There are many, and this list is by no means exhaustive. First among the resources are those who use practical, science-based methods to deal with alcohol problems. Since no woman has the same reasons for abusing alcohol, it is difficult to say which of these methods, widely used in Europe, Canada, and Australia, may be best for her. It is ironic that the practitioners and groups listed below are somehow classified as “alternative” – especially since the methods they use are fully rooted in science. Almost universally, however, those listed here regard alcohol abuse as a maladaptive coping strategy rather than a disease. Motivational interviewing, a form of therapy, helps clients make their own decisions about how to utilize her own strengths in what making healthier lifestyle decisions. Harm reduction, for example, recognizes that abstinence is a difficult goal for many, so it seeks to help clients drink in a way that reduces harm to the drinker and those around her.

  • Mary Ellen Barnes and Ed Wilson, licensed counselors in Rolling Hills Estates, California, offer clients five days of intensive, individualized outpatient therapy that uses a combination of therapeutic techniques in treating clients who abuse alcohol. The practice partners, who have Ph.Ds in psychology, work closely with a family medicine doctor who prescribes naltrexone for alcohol cravings.
  • DeeDee Stout, a counselor, speaker, and author in Emeryville, California, has 25 years experience in alternative approaches to alcohol and drug treatment.
  • Fred Rotgers, a New Jersey psychologist with too many credits to list here, has treated patients using science for 30 years.
  • Marc Kern and Adi Jaffe, both psychologists, run a treatment center that uses a combination of science-based therapies at Addiction Alternatives in Beverly Hills.
  • Mark Willenbring, a psychiatrist in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the former director of treatment research at the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, treats patients (and educates the public) with 21st century treatment.
  • Stanton Peele, a psychologist, lawyer, and author based in Brooklyn, NY, and has been an outspoken critic of the disease theory of alcohol dependence for more than 25 years. He has developed the online Life Process Program for those seeking to change their behaviors. He and co-writer Ilse Thompson have a new book, "Recover!" by DaCapo press. 
  • Practical Recovery, in San Diego, CA, has four facilities: two rehabs (residential treatment), one sober living and outpatient services. The largest of the "alternative" providers, it was founded by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., psychologist, who is also the president of SMART Recovery.
  • The Center for Motivation and Change is a private group practice in Manhattan that uses a combination of newer therapies to help clients decide the best path for ending alcohol abuse. Two of their psychologists, Jeffrey Foote and Carrie Wilkens, co-wrote a new book published by Simon & Schuster called "Beyond Addiction." 
  • The Addiction Institute of New York uses newer treatment methods.
  • Scott Stern, a psychotherapist in private practice in Manhattan, uses new methods to help patients decide how to change unhealthy habits themselves. ‚Äč
  • The Foundation for Alcoholism Research offers grants for the study of, and information about, science-based treatment methods. http://alcoholismresearch.org/
  • Andrew Tatarsky, a psychologist, is a harm reduction specialist and a professor at the New School for Social Research. You can find him at 
    centerforotpimalliving.com and andrewtatarsky.com. He's the author of "Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems"
  • C Three Foundation is a resource for those wishing to learn more about The Sinclair Method, a scientifically tested way to treat alcohol dependency using the FDA-approved drug naltrexone, a non-addictive opioid blocker. Actor Claudia Christian, who used the method successfully to treat her own dependence after attempts at AA and rehab, has made a documentary, One Little Pill, about how it works.
  • Michael Ascher, an addictions psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania, delivers holistic and personalized treatment for substance use disorders, as well as accompanying mood disorders.           http://www.AscherMD.com

Here are groups that offer different approaches, as well:

  • HAMS: Harm Reduction: A website that offers online support and live meetings for those who are interested in exploring harm reduction, as well as guidance and tools for how to change.
  • Moderation Management: Moderation Management (MM) is a national support group for those who want to make changes in their drinking habits. It offers guidance in recognizing one’s own risky behavior, and ways to help moderate intake. It offers online support and live meetings, as well as tools for assessing and managing your drinking.

These groups support abstinence as a goal, but employ evidence-based methods in their approaches: Their names are self-explanatory.