Finding the Right Post-treatment Recovery Program for You

A group of individuals meets to support one another in addiction recovery after completing substance abuse treatment at JourneyPure

Recovery programs exist for many reasons beyond just helping people get and stay sober. They help people with addiction understand their problems, learn new, healthy ways to cope with life, build a sober network of peers in recovery, and so much more. When you leave treatment, you will want to quickly find a community recovery program to help you continue your journey in sobriety.

Here we’ve outlined seven well-known recovery programs active in the US and beyond and information on our app, which helps coach you individually as you work towards a life of sobriety. We’ll go through them in alphabetical order, but please remember that this is not an exhaustive list, and there may be another program out there that works better for you. We encourage you to keep trying until you find the solution that works for you.

JourneyPure Coaching App

No matter which program you choose, the JourneyPure Coaching App will be your best friend in navigating daily life in recovery. Available to all JourneyPure clients, the app allows you to connect with a recovery coach who will help you kick-start your life as someone in recovery. The app helps keep you accountable by working on your recovery plan with your dedicated Recovery Coach. Your coach will give you daily projects and guidance to help you maintain sobriety. You can reflect on your progress, thoughts, and feelings with a daily recovery log and self-assessments.

The app will also help as you embark on a new healthy lifestyle by focusing on pillars of health like sleep, nutrition, and exercise to reinforce a new structure in your life and encourage overall well-being. Please contact us to learn more about our program and the JourneyPure App.

1.) 12-Step Program

What Is It?

Probably the most well-known recovery program is the 12-step program, more commonly known as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and so on. As the names state, these organizations are founded on a principle of anonymity, which means collecting data about their efficacy can be difficult. However, from the data collected, studies show that these can be some of the most effective programs for achieving and maintaining sobriety.

Even amongst some program participants, there is a common misconception that AA and similar programs are religious or Christian-based. This is not the case. 12-step programs rely on a spiritual foundation, but no organized religion or common higher power is associated with them.

The spirituality aspect requires members to be willing to believe that there is a power greater than themselves that can help them get sober. There are no requirements for what that higher power is. Everyone has a different concept of their higher power, which can change as often and drastically as you want. Many use the universe, the members of AA (G.O.D. = Group Of Drunks), or even an inanimate object as their concept of a higher power. The key is believing that you alone do not have the power to cure yourself and allowing yourself to ask for help from something greater than you.

These groups help individuals examine their past and present to understand their previous flawed thinking and come to understand a solution. Members use approved literature, the help of a sponsor, the higher power of their understanding, and community support through meetings to help them in their recovery journey.

Details of the 12 Steps:

  • As the group names suggest, anonymity is of the utmost importance in 12-step meetings and is fiercely protected.
  • The AA “Triangle,” which guides all aspects of AA, is based on the three pillars of unity, recovery, and service.
  • Sponsorship is strongly encouraged. A sponsor is someone you choose to work with one-on-one who has been through the 12 steps and can guide you as you work through them.
  • 12-step programs adhere to a peer-led support structure with no requirements to join other than a desire to stop using mind-altering substances.
  • Meetings are available online or in-person, anytime, anywhere. These meetings are free of charge, and voluntary donations pay for rent for rooms and coffee.
  • The program is based on spirituality, not religion. It is faith-based but has no religious requirements and uses approved literature, not a religious text, for its readings.
  • Separate meetings are held for respective addictions, and there are also meetings for family and friends of addicts, like Al-Anon.

What Does a Meeting Look Like?

  • Local in-person and virtual meetings are available.
  • It is led by a volunteer chair who rotates from meeting to meeting.
  • Each group has flexibility in its format, and meetings follow different structures, including literature studies, speaker meetings, and group discussions.
  • Meetings open and close with prayer.

2.) Recovery Dharma

What Is It?

Recovery Dharma is a peer-led and non-theistic program intended to help participants let go of the need for intoxication. Also known as renunciation, Dharma teaches participants to give up any substances in their lives that cause suffering. In addition to the critical tenet of renunciation, Dharma also promotes a strong practice of meditation, attending meetings for community support, and a thorough investigation into one’s previous addictive behavior through writing and sharing.

Through traditional Buddhist teachings of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, Dharma promotes the belief that “following a balanced path of understanding, ethical behavior, and mindfulness, all beings have the potential to find happiness and free themselves from the suffering of repetitive craving.” The intent is to create a network of people in recovery and help participants undertake a lifelong journey of growth and awakening.

Details of Recovery Dharma

  • Dharma is a meditation and mindfulness-based recovery program.
  • It is centered on spirituality and Buddhist principles but is not faith-based and has no religious requirements.
  • Meetings are free of charge and funded by voluntary donations.
  • The program follows a peer-led support structure.
  • There are no requirements to join other than a desire to stop using mind-altering substances.

What Does a Meeting Look Like?

  • Meetings contain general content with principles that apply to all addictions.
  • Local in-person and virtual meetings are available.
  • Meetings follow a general outline of a reading, sharing from members, then a guided meditation.
  • Let by a volunteer facilitator.
  • Each group has flexibility in its format.

3.) LifeRing Secular Recovery

What Is It?

LifeRing is a peer-led, secular organization in which participants use shared experiences and positive social reinforcement to support and guide others through recovery. LifeRing focuses on the present-day rather than past damage or trauma and works to strengthen your Sober Self while weakening your Addict Self. The intent is to focus on the positive, practical present-day to turn the past’s anger and despair into hope and resolve.

It does not use steps, sponsors, or a higher power in its teachings. LifeRing operates this way because they believe you are the best person to design your Own Personal Recovery Program. The belief is that each person knows what is needed in their own life to recover. Instead, LifeRing teaches the 3-S philosophy of Sobriety, Secularity, and Self-Help, with an unofficial fourth S for Service.

Details of LifeRing Secular Recovery

  • Volunteer-run program.
  • Free, funded by voluntary donations.
  • Local in-person and virtual meetings are available.
  • Each person designs their “Own Personal Recovery Program,” which is unique.
  • LifeRing has official publications, workbooks, and approved readings.
  • Anonymity is optional, but meetings are confidential.

What Does a Meeting Look Like?

  • A “convenor” guides each meeting.
  • Meetings follow a simple agenda of an opening statement, the meeting, and a closing statement.
  • LifeRing encourages cross-talk — questions, ideas, supportive feedback, positive experiences, and the use of “I” statements rather than “you” statements.
  • There are three meeting formats – How Was Your Week (HWYW), topic meetings, and WorkBook meeting (WB).
  • Outsiders who are not in recovery are welcome, as well as people who are actively under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Chat room meetings are available as well.

4.) Refuge Recovery World Services

What Is It?

Like Dharma, Refuge Recovery (RR) is a non-theistic, Buddhist process focused on ending suffering through the 2,500-year-old teachings of Indian psychologist and spiritual teacher Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. It incorporates the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path and promises full recovery, lifelong well-being, and happiness through those principles.

Like Dharma, Refuge Recovery uses the Buddhist teachings of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to aid in their recovery teachings. It is a collaborative, community-based program with meditation as the cornerstone. Its practitioners believe that through daily meditation and mindfulness, they see the root causes that lead to the suffering of addiction and focus on staying in the present to heal themselves. The program is a collaborative, community-based effort, and maintaining a connection with that community is a key component.

Details Refuge Recovery World Services

Participants do not need to believe in anything; they must trust the process and do the work required to recover.

  • Participation is confidential.
  • The program encourages “mentorship.”
  • The process includes meditation, “wise actions,” and compassion.
  • Requirements include daily meditation, written investigation of causes and conditions of addiction, and creating a community of healing.
  • Meetings are free and funded by voluntary donations called “dana.”
  • Uses approved literature.
  • Teaches the Four Noble Truths:
    • 1st Truth: Addiction Creates Suffering; We take stock of all the suffering we have experienced and caused as addicts.
    • 2nd Truth: The Cause of Addiction Is Repetitive Craving; We investigate the causes and conditions that lead to addiction and begin the process of letting go.
    • 3rd Truth: Recovery is possible; We come to understand that recovery is possible and take refuge in the path that leads to the end of addiction.
    • 4th Truth: The path to recovery is available; We engage in the process of the Eightfold Path that leads to recovery.
  • Teaches the Eightfold Path: Understanding, Intentions, Speech/community, Actions, Livelihood/service, Effort, Mindfulness, Concentration.

What Does a Meeting Look Like?

  • Online and in-person meetings are available.
  • Meetings are held by official Refuge Recovery groups registered with RR World Services – they have no outside affiliations and receive no external financial support.
  • Meetings are facilitated by the group secretary, who is an elected volunteer.
  • Meetings begin with readings of the Preamble, the Guiding Principles, and the Process and end with standard announcements and the Dedication of Merit.
  • Meeting formats include mindfulness, meditation, heart practices study, forgiveness, book study, speaker, inventory, and deepening our meditation practice meetings.
  • In standard meetings, participants will briefly share their experience with recovery or on the topic at hand.
  • Crosstalk is discouraged.

5.) Secular Organizations for Sobriety

What Is It?

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is “a nonprofit network of autonomous, non-professional local groups, dedicated solely to helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety/abstinence from alcohol and drug addiction, food addiction, and more.” It sees itself as a non-religious alternative to AA and NA, but it does not discourage members from attending other types of meetings like AA.

Like many recovery programs, SOS believes that addiction thrives in isolation. SOS seeks to help avoid that isolation by providing group interaction and a network of sober peers. Tools are used to help, including official printed and video materials and meetings that are aligned with SOS principles.

Details of SOS

  • Informally known as “Save Our Selves.”
  • SOS claims to be the world’s largest and oldest alternative to 12-step support groups.
  • Founded in 1985 by James Christopher, a recovering alcoholic.
  • Founder James Christopher writes approved literature.
  • Participants do not need to be agnostic or atheistic – all religious backgrounds are welcome.
  • Maintains strict standards of anonymity.
  • Free of charge and funded by voluntary donations.

What Does a Meeting Look Like?

  • In-person and online hour-long meetings are available.
  • Holds less formal meetings than other support groups.
  • Meetings begin with reading a summary of beliefs; participants are encouraged to share sobriety experiences, and sessions end with a closing statement.
  • Topics related to religion are not discussed at meetings.
  • Meetings are not limited to those who are trying to get sober – they are open to anyone whose life is affected by substance abuse, even indirectly, including family, friends, co-workers, etc.

6.) Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART)

What Is It?

SMART Recovery describes itself as “a transformative method of moving from addictive substances and negative behaviors to a life of positive self-regard and willingness to change,” which helps people trapped in addiction to “learn the skills they need to overcome their addictions and transform their lives.” SMART sees itself as a more accessible, empowering program than others, grounded in science and the teaching of practical tools for a life of recovery.

SMART tries to get participants to reexamine their motives so they can achieve their goals, adopt healthier beliefs about themselves and addiction and recovery, learn how to diminish emotional disturbances and increase self-acceptance, and engage in positive behaviors that replace problematic addictive behaviors. SMART is about teaching skills as a way to self-empower people to overcome their addictions.

Details of SMART

  • Religious and spiritual beliefs are not part of the SMART program. It teaches self-reliance rather than powerlessness.
  • SMART supports the appropriate use of psychological treatment and legally-prescribed psychiatric medication.
  • Its approach is based on achieving behavioral change through its trademarked 4-Point Program: (1) Building and maintaining the motivation to change. (2) Coping with urges to use. (3) Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors effectively without addictive behaviors. (4) Living a balanced, positive, and healthy life.
  • Unlike many other groups with no central governance structure, SMART has a national office with a leadership team, a board of directors, and an international advisory council.
  • It has online recovery forums for chatting with peers in the recovery community.
  • Community-based and run by volunteers made up of both peers and professionals.
  • Checkup & Choices is an app that is a confidential, self-led online recovery program that partners with SMART Recovery.
  • SMART is free and funded by voluntary donations solicited in meetings, training fees, and literature sales.
  • The confidentiality of participants is protected.

What Does a Meeting Look Like?

  • In-person and online mutual support meetings are available.
  • Meetings are led by a facilitator who may or may not have had addiction problems in their lifetime.
  • Meetings do not dwell on the past; they focus on doing something about the present and future.
  • The use of labels like “alcoholic” or “addict” is discouraged.
  • No sponsorship.
  • Meetings are conversational, including cross-talk or talking with each other rather than to each other.
  • There are also specialized meetings for different demographics, like families of addicts or veterans fighting addiction.
  • Meeting discussions focus on applying SMART tools to everyday life to effect positive change and lead a more productive and connected life.

7.) Women for Sobriety (WFS)

What Is It?

WFS is an organization whose purpose is to help all women find their individual paths to recovery through self-discovery. It is a community-based program with a vision of “a world where individuals live mindful lives and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions” and a mission to “support women seeking a sober life in recovery from problematic substance use” through the New Life Program.

A sociologist founded WFS in 1975 after studies showed that recovery programs resulted in higher recovery rates for men than women, leading women to be seen in the addiction medicine community as harder to treat and less cooperative. The program was created out of the belief that women needed a different type of recovery program than men due to the difference in psychological needs between men and women.

WFS believes women need to focus on their emotional needs for an increased sense of self-value, self-worth, and self-efficacy. It works to teach women to meet those needs and overcome their substance use disorder with supportive group interactions and introducing new ways of problem-solving.

Details of WFS

  • It is an abstinence-based self-help program for women that promotes behavioral change through positive reinforcement, cognitive strategies of positive thinking, letting the body help through things like meditation and healthy living, and dynamic group involvement.
  • It is unique from other recovery programs because it is an organization of women made for women. It is open to people of all expressions of the female identity and is inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • The New Life Program offers recovery tools to teach women healthier coping skills that encourage emotional and spiritual growth, self-esteem improvement, and a healthy lifestyle.
  • The WFS philosophy is “release the past – plan for tomorrow – live for today.”
  • WFS uses approved literature. The 13 Acceptance Statements, found here in more detail, are the guiding principles for WFS.
  • WFS also administers an online peer-support forum and chat room.
  • It is free of charge and funded by voluntary donations solicited at meetings and the sale of literature.
  • A Board of Directors governs WFS.

What Does a Meeting Look Like?

  • Meeting participants share experiences, hope, and encouragement with other women.
  • Meetings are entirely confidential.
  • Meetings are held once a week and last 60 to 90 minutes.
  • They are led by a Certified Facilitator (CF) who must have a thorough knowledge of the WFS program and one year of continuous sobriety. There is a certification process.
  • WFS meetings follow a structured format: reading of 13 Acceptance Statements and the Mission Statement by the CF and group members; group reading of the thought-action; every member introduces herself with her name, says she is a competent woman, shares a positive action or feeling, and selects one Support Statement and shares how it relates; the topic is introduced, and discussion follows; meeting closes with group recitation of the WFS motto.

How Do I Choose the Right Program for Me?

If you’d like guidance in picking the right program to help on your recovery journey before, during, and after treatment, reach out to the team here at JourneyPure. If you have joined us on our App, your coach can help point you in the right direction. If you haven’t joined us yet, give us a call so we can discuss how to help you get on the right path in recovery.

What If I Slip Up?

Slips happen. Almost everyone in recovery has had at least one slip or relapse, but we do not let those define or derail us. At JourneyPure, we arm you against your addiction by giving you tools you can use in your fight. Reach out to your sponsor or people in your sober network, get back to a meeting of any of the above programs, contact your Recovery App coach, or call us at JourneyPure to help get you back on track. A slip does not mean all is lost.



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