10 Non-Religious Recovery Groups

Discover non-religious recovery groups: inclusive, empowering, and evidence-based options for your journey to sobriety.

Leora BH Staff
December 28, 2023

Traditional Recovery Programs and the Role of Religion

In the realm of addiction recovery, traditional recovery programs have long been intertwined with religious or spiritual beliefs. Understanding the basics of these programs and the influence of religion within them can provide valuable context when exploring non-religious recovery groups as an alternative.

Non-Religious Recovery Groups: A New Approach

In recent years, non-religious recovery groups have emerged as an alternative to traditional recovery programs that incorporate religious or spiritual elements. These non-religious recovery groups provide individuals with a different approach to overcoming addiction and maintaining sobriety. Let's explore what non-religious recovery groups are and the philosophy behind them.

What are Non-Religious Recovery Groups?

Non-religious recovery groups are supportive communities that aim to help individuals struggling with addiction by providing a secular and inclusive environment. These groups offer a space where individuals can share their experiences, find support, and learn effective strategies for recovery without the reliance on religious or spiritual beliefs.

Unlike traditional recovery programs that often incorporate a religious or spiritual framework, non-religious recovery groups focus on evidence-based approaches, personal empowerment, and the strength of community. These groups understand that individuals have diverse beliefs and value systems, and they prioritize inclusivity and respect for each person's worldview.

The Philosophy behind Non-Religious Recovery Groups

Non-religious recovery groups believe that individuals have the power to overcome addiction without relying on religious or spiritual beliefs. They emphasize personal responsibility, self-empowerment, and practical skills to support long-term recovery. Members take an active role in their recovery journey, setting goals, developing coping mechanisms, and building a support network. These groups embrace an evidence-based approach, drawing on scientific research and proven techniques like CBT, mindfulness practices, and motivational interviewing. Non-religious recovery groups provide an alternative option for individuals who may feel uncomfortable or excluded in traditional programs.

Overview of Traditional Recovery Programs

Traditional recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), have played a significant role in helping individuals overcome addiction for decades. These programs are primarily based on the 12-step model, which involves admitting powerlessness over addiction, surrendering to a higher power, and actively participating in group meetings and support networks.

The 12-step model encourages individuals to embrace spirituality or a higher power as a means of finding strength and support throughout the recovery journey. While the specific religious or spiritual beliefs may vary among participants, the foundation of these programs often incorporates references to God or a higher power.

The Influence of Religion in Traditional Recovery Programs

Religion has been a significant influence on traditional recovery programs, which incorporate spiritual beliefs to connect individuals with a higher power for strength and guidance. While these programs have been effective for many, it is important to recognize that they may not align with everyone's personal beliefs or preferences.

To address this, non-religious recovery groups have emerged, providing alternatives to traditional recovery programs. These groups focus on evidence-based approaches, personal empowerment, and inclusivity. They offer a supportive community for individuals seeking recovery without the requirement of religious involvement.

One such group is SMART Recovery, which stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. SMART Recovery is a science-based program that provides tools and techniques to help individuals achieve and maintain sobriety. Their approach is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing, which have been shown to be effective in treating addiction.

Another non-religious recovery group is LifeRing Secular Recovery, which provides a supportive community for individuals who want to achieve sobriety without religious involvement. LifeRing Secular Recovery focuses on personal empowerment and self-reliance, teaching individuals to take control of their lives and make positive changes.

It is important to recognize that there are alternatives to traditional recovery programs that do not require religious involvement. Non-religious recovery groups can be just as effective, providing a supportive community and evidence-based approaches for individuals seeking recovery.

10 Different Approaches to Sobriety Beyond AA

For individuals seeking a non-religious approach to recovery, there are several options available. These non-religious recovery groups provide support, guidance, and tools for individuals on their journey to sobriety. Here are four prominent non-religious recovery groups worth exploring:

  1. SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training): A program that focuses on empowering individuals to manage addictive behaviors by teaching self-reliance and using cognitive-behavioral techniques.
  2. LifeRing Secular Recovery: Emphasizes self-help and peer support for individuals seeking a secular path to recovery. It offers meetings and online support groups.
  3. Women for Sobriety (WFS): Specifically tailored for women, this program provides a supportive environment for recovery by focusing on emotional and spiritual growth.
  4. Moderation Management: Geared towards individuals who want to moderate their drinking rather than abstain completely, utilizing a self-help approach and behavioral change techniques.
  5. Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS): Offers a secular alternative to the traditional 12-step programs, focusing on personal responsibility and self-empowerment.
  6. Refuge Recovery: Based on Buddhist principles, this program utilizes mindfulness, meditation, and the Buddhist philosophy to support individuals in their recovery journey.
  7. Harm Reduction Therapy: A client-centered approach that aims to reduce the negative consequences of substance use rather than demanding abstinence immediately.
  8. Rational Recovery: Focuses on teaching individuals to recognize and manage the "Addictive Voice" within themselves using techniques from cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  9. Celebrate Recovery: A Christian-based program that combines spiritual principles with a 12-step approach to help individuals dealing with various addictive behaviors.
  10. Therapy and Counseling: Seeking one-on-one therapy or counseling sessions with a qualified therapist specializing in addiction treatment can provide personalized support tailored to an individual's needs.

Remember, the effectiveness of these alternatives can vary depending on individual preferences and needs. It's essential to explore and find a method that best aligns with your beliefs, lifestyle, and goals for recovery. Consulting with a healthcare professional or addiction specialist can also provide valuable guidance in choosing the most suitable approach.

Benefits of Non-Religious Recovery Groups

Non-religious recovery groups offer several benefits for individuals seeking support in overcoming addiction without the influence of religious or spiritual aspects. Some of these advantages include:

  1. Secular Approach: Non-religious recovery groups provide a secular environment, making them more accessible and welcoming to individuals who prefer a non-spiritual or non-religious approach to recovery.
  2. Inclusivity: They cater to people of various beliefs and backgrounds, ensuring inclusivity and respect for diverse perspectives, which can make individuals feel more comfortable and accepted regardless of their religious beliefs or non-beliefs.
  3. Empowerment and Personal Responsibility: Emphasizing personal responsibility, these groups focus on empowering individuals to take charge of their recovery journey without relying on religious or supernatural elements, fostering self-empowerment and autonomy.
  4. Evidence-Based Practices: Many non-religious recovery groups incorporate evidence-based therapeutic techniques and principles, such as cognitive-behavioral approaches, mindfulness, and rational emotive therapy, providing practical tools for managing addiction.
  5. Flexibility in Recovery Goals: Non-religious groups often allow for a broader spectrum of recovery goals, including harm reduction and moderation, in addition to complete abstinence, catering to individuals with different objectives in their recovery journey.
  6. Community and Support: These groups offer a supportive community of peers who understand and share similar experiences, providing a sense of belonging and encouragement without the religious or spiritual aspects commonly found in other recovery groups.
  7. Focus on Rational Thinking: Programs like SMART Recovery and Rational Recovery emphasize rational thinking and behavioral change strategies, helping individuals challenge and change addictive thought patterns and behaviors.
  8. Reduced Reliance on Higher Power: For individuals uncomfortable with the idea of surrendering to a higher power, non-religious recovery groups offer an alternative approach that doesn’t require a belief in a higher power or submission to spiritual ideologies.
  9. Flexibility in Meetings and Format: Many non-religious recovery groups offer various meeting formats, including online meetings, in-person sessions, and discussion-based gatherings, allowing for flexibility and accessibility.
  10. Customized Support: These groups often encourage participants to tailor their recovery plans to their specific needs and preferences, promoting a more individualized approach to sobriety.

Ultimately, the benefits of non-religious recovery groups lie in their ability to provide a supportive environment focused on evidence-based practices, personal responsibility, inclusivity, and empowerment, catering to a wider range of individuals seeking recovery from addiction.

Finding the Right Non-Religious Recovery Group for You

Finding the right non-religious recovery group that suits your needs involves considering various factors to ensure it aligns with your preferences and offers the support necessary for your recovery journey. Here are steps to help you find the most suitable non-religious recovery group:

  1. Research and Explore Options: Look into different non-religious recovery groups available in your area or online. Consider well-known programs such as SMART Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery, SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety), or others based on your location and preferences.
  2. Understand the Approach: Research the approach and principles of each group. Understand how they operate, their philosophy, meeting formats, and the techniques they employ for recovery. Consider whether their approach aligns with your beliefs and goals.
  3. Attend Meetings or Sessions: Attend a few meetings or sessions of different groups if possible. Many groups offer open meetings where you can participate without commitment. This firsthand experience will help you gauge the atmosphere, structure, and whether you feel comfortable and supported within the group.
  4. Seek Recommendations: Ask for recommendations from healthcare professionals, counselors, or individuals who have experience with non-religious recovery groups. They might provide insights or suggestions based on their knowledge or personal experiences.
  5. Consider Accessibility: Evaluate the accessibility of the group, considering factors such as meeting frequency, location, availability of online meetings, and whether they offer resources or support beyond meetings.
  6. Evaluate Group Dynamics: Pay attention to the dynamics within the group. Consider whether the members' experiences, challenges, and goals resonate with you. Assess if the group provides a supportive and non-judgmental environment.
  7. Reflect on Your Needs: Consider your specific needs in recovery. Whether you're looking for peer support, structured programs, cognitive-behavioral techniques, or a focus on harm reduction, ensure the group's offerings align with what you need.
  8. Seek Professional Advice: Consult with a healthcare professional or therapist specializing in addiction treatment. They can offer guidance and insights into which non-religious recovery group might be most beneficial for your situation.
  9. Evaluate Personal Comfort: Assess your comfort level within the group. Determine whether you feel accepted, understood, and encouraged without pressure to conform to beliefs or practices that contradict your values.
  10. Stay Open-Minded: Be open to trying different groups if needed. The first group you attend might not be the perfect fit, so exploring various options can help you find the one that suits you best.

By considering these steps and taking the time to explore different non-religious recovery groups, you can increase the likelihood of finding a supportive community that aligns with your preferences and aids in your recovery journey.

Resources for Locating Non-Religious Recovery Groups

Here are some resources and methods you can utilize to locate non-religious recovery groups:

  • Online Directories: Check websites like SMART Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery, and Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS).
  • Apps and Online Platforms: Use apps such as Meeting Guide or Sober Grid, or explore online platforms connecting individuals with recovery groups.
  • Local Health Services: Contact clinics, hospitals, or mental health organizations for details on non-religious support groups.
  • Therapists and Counselors: Consult with professionals for recommendations or information on non-religious recovery groups.
  • Community Centers and Libraries: Inquire at these places, as they might host or have information about local support group meetings.
  • Online Forums and Support Groups: Join online forums or social media groups focused on addiction recovery.
  • Word of Mouth: Ask friends, family, or acquaintances for recommendations based on their experiences.
  • Substance Abuse Helplines: Contact national or local helplines for guidance on finding non-religious recovery resources.
  • University or College Services: Students can check with university health services for information about local groups.
  • Online Searches: Use search engines with relevant keywords along with your location for specific group information and directories.

These resources can help you locate non-religious recovery groups that align with your preferences and needs.


Non-religious groups that help people recover from addiction are a good option if you don't want to do a traditional 12-step program. These groups have people who support you, use proven methods, and focus on your responsibility and power to get better. To find the right group, think about what you need and ask doctors or addiction experts for help. Non-religious groups are good because they include everyone, are flexible, and focus on thinking and behavior changes that can help you more than a 12-step program.


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