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by Abigail Van Buren

Groups Offer Secular Help for Alcohol Abusers

DEAR ABBY: I know I have an issue with alcohol. I have read about local AA groups, but they don't seem right for me because I'm an atheist. When I went to my doctor, along with my supportive husband, she had no suggestions to offer. I know I need help beyond what friends and family can provide. Do you have any ideas for me? -- TAKING THE STEP IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR TAKING THE STEP: I certainly do, because there are secular alternatives to AA.

SMART Recovery offers a four-point program aimed at motivation to abstain, coping with cravings, managing negative emotions and finding a life balance. It has face-to-face support groups worldwide, as well as daily online meetings. Like AA, lifetime abstinence is the goal, and meetings and help are free of charge. Unlike AA, lifetime abstinence need not require lifetime attendance at meetings. For more information, visit

Another group, Women for Sobriety, may be of interest to you because it is non-theistic and aims to empower women and minorities. The website,, does not list its meetings (for reasons of privacy), so in order to find a group, you will have to make contact within the site.

Last, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (aka Save Our Selves) is sometimes described as a 12-step program minus the religious overtones. To find a list of meetings, visit

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