When you get help for an alcohol abuse disorder, peer-led support groups are one way to strengthen your recovery. SMART Recovery, and other alternatives to AA, create a safe and healthy place to support your sobriety. Each year, 15 million adults in the United States struggle with an alcohol abuse disorder, with 23% of all substance abuse treatment admissions involving alcoholism.\u00a0 Although alcohol is legal to purchase and consume, it\u2019s highly addictive and can cause both psychological and physical dependency. Ethanol, which is the active ingredient in alcohol that causes intoxication, is lethal in large amounts. Since your liver can only process and filter one serving of alcohol every hour and a half, heavy drinking can cause liver damage. Withdrawing from alcohol after developing a physical dependency is difficult and dangerous without treatment, as symptoms are severe and may require medical attention. What is Alcoholism? Alcohol is an addictive central nervous system depressant that creates calming and euphoric effects. When you drink, your brain releases a rush of GABA, which is a pleasurable neurotransmitter responsible for causing relaxing thoughts and feelings. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause: \tBlackouts and memory loss \tLowered inhibitions \tLoss of coordination \tLoss of consciousness \tAnger and irritability Alcohol intoxication can make you more likely to engage in arguments or fights, as mood changes and lowered inhibitions increase the likelihood of making poor decisions. Another risk of alcohol abuse is legal problems, as driving while intoxicated can lead to criminal charges. As alcoholism progresses, symptoms become more severe. As you develop a tolerance to alcohol, you have to continue drinking more to experience the same pleasurable effects. Eventually, your body can become completely dependent on alcohol to function. Severe physical dependency can cause you to drink solely to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms. What are Alternatives to AA? When reviewing your inpatient and outpatient treatment options, you may wonder what alternatives to AA exist. Many substance abuse treatment programs utilize 12-step meetings like AA because they improve recovery outcomes. While AA and NA are the largest recovery-oriented 12 step organizations in the United States, there are several alternatives to AA. SMART Recovery is a popular recovery group that is secular and doesn\u2019t follow the 12-step guidelines, making it a good fit for those looking for alternatives to AA. LifeRing is a secular support group for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Other alternatives to AA include Women for Sobriety and Secular Organizations for Sobriety. Women for Sobriety is a group catered solely for women. This can make it easier to focus on recovery issues and cope with trauma. The goal of peer support groups during recovery is to provide you with a strong network of positive and sober people. Support groups offer a way to express triumphs and obstacles you encounter during sobriety, which prevents feelings of isolation or loneliness. During addiction, it\u2019s common to only associate with people who also use drugs and alcohol. This can make it hard to maintain healthy relationships when you\u2019re newly sober. Having the ability to ask for guidance from other group members who have successfully accomplished sustained periods of sobriety and abstinence ensures that you have help during all stages of your recovery. Another benefit of support groups is that they\u2019re free and widely available. Starting Treatment Today with Promises Treatment Centers When you have an alcohol abuse disorder, your life can feel out of control. As alcohol becomes the main priority in your life, you can experience damaged relationships, instability, and a diminished quality of life. If you\u2019re ready to take the first step towards recovery, reach out to Promises Treatment Centers today at to learn more about alternatives to AA and your treatment options.