Which Recovery Program Should I Join After Getting Sober?

Congratulations on taking the courageous step toward sobriety! Embarking on the journey of recovery is a significant milestone, but it’s essential to choose the right support system to help you along the way. With various recovery programs available, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and SMART Recovery, it’s natural to feel uncertain about which one is the best fit for you. At Rise Malibu Rehab, we understand the importance of finding a recovery program that aligns with your needs, values, and goals. Let’s explore the options to help you make an informed decision.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly known as AA, is one of the oldest and most widely recognized support groups for individuals recovering from alcohol addiction. Founded on the principles of mutual support and fellowship, AA follows a 12-step program that emphasizes personal accountability, spiritual growth, and service to others. Meetings are held worldwide and are free to attend, providing a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences, seek guidance, and find inspiration in the stories of others in recovery.

The core components of AA include:

  • 12-Step Program: AA follows a 12-step program that emphasizes surrendering to a higher power, self-examination, making amends, and helping others. The program encourages members to acknowledge their powerlessness over alcohol and to seek spiritual growth and personal transformation.
  • Spiritual Component: AA incorporates spiritual principles into its program, but the concept of a higher power is left open to interpretation, allowing individuals to define it according to their beliefs.
  • Fellowship: AA meetings provide a supportive environment where members can share their experiences, strengths, and hopes with one another. Fellowship and peer support are key components of the program.
  • Sponsorship: AA encourages members to work with sponsors—individuals who have successfully maintained sobriety and can offer guidance, support, and accountability.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

Narcotics Anonymous, similar to AA, is a fellowship of individuals recovering from drug addiction. NA meetings follow the same 12-step principles as AA but focus specifically on the challenges and experiences of individuals struggling with narcotics addiction. Like AA, NA meetings offer a supportive community where members can share their struggles, receive encouragement, and work through the steps of recovery together. NA meetings are open to anyone seeking help with drug addiction, regardless of the specific substance they are struggling with.

The core components of NA include:

  • 12-Step Program: NA also follows a 12-step program that is adapted from AA but focuses on narcotics addiction. Members work through the steps to address the underlying causes of addiction, make amends, and maintain sobriety.
  • Inclusivity: NA is open to individuals struggling with addiction to any type of narcotic substance, whether it’s opioids, stimulants, or other drugs. The program provides a non-judgmental space for individuals to share their experiences and support one another.
  • Peer Support: Like AA, NA meetings emphasize fellowship and peer support, allowing members to connect with others who understand their struggles and can offer empathy and encouragement.
  • Sponsorship: NA encourages members to find sponsors who can offer guidance and support in working through the steps and navigating challenges in recovery.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training and is a science-based alternative to traditional 12-step programs. Unlike AA and NA, which emphasize spiritual principles and surrender to a higher power, SMART Recovery focuses on evidence-based techniques and cognitive-behavioral strategies to empower individuals in their recovery journey. SMART Recovery meetings incorporate tools from motivational interviewing, rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), and other evidence-based modalities to help participants build motivation, cope with cravings, manage thoughts and emotions, and set achievable goals for recovery.

The core components of SMART recovery include:

  • Focus: SMART Recovery is a science-based program that offers an alternative to traditional 12-step programs. It is not limited to any specific substance and is suitable for individuals struggling with addiction to drugs, alcohol, or other addictive behaviors.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Approach: SMART Recovery incorporates evidence-based techniques from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing to help individuals change their thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs related to addiction.
  • Self-Empowerment: SMART Recovery emphasizes self-management and empowerment, teaching individuals practical skills and strategies to cope with cravings, manage thoughts and emotions, and make positive lifestyle changes.
  • Rational Approach: SMART Recovery encourages participants to take a rational and analytical approach to their recovery, focusing on problem-solving, goal-setting, and self-reflection.
  • Flexibility: Unlike AA and NA, which follow a structured meeting format, SMART Recovery meetings are more flexible and interactive. Participants engage in discussions, exercises, and activities designed to promote self-awareness and skill-building.

Choosing the Right Program for You

When deciding which recovery program to join after getting sober, it’s essential to consider your individual preferences, beliefs, and needs:

  • Philosophy: Reflect on your beliefs and values regarding addiction and recovery. If you resonate with the spiritual principles and fellowship of AA or NA, these programs may be a good fit. If you prefer a more secular and science-based approach, SMART Recovery may be more appealing.
  • Structure: Consider the level of structure and guidance you need in your recovery journey. AA and NA meetings follow a structured format, including sharing personal experiences, working through the steps, and receiving support from peers and sponsors. SMART Recovery meetings offer a more flexible and interactive approach, focusing on skill-building and self-management techniques.
  • Community: Evaluate the sense of community and connection you experience in each program. Attend meetings for each program and see how you feel interacting with other members. Choose the program where you feel most comfortable sharing your experiences, receiving support, and building relationships with others in recovery.
  • Accessibility: Consider the availability and accessibility of meetings for each program in your area. Look for meetings that fit your schedule and location, whether they are in-person or virtual, and prioritize attending regularly to stay connected and engaged in your recovery journey.


Ultimately, the best recovery program for you is the one that resonates with your values, meets your needs, and supports your goals for sobriety. Whether you choose AA, NA, SMART Recovery, or a combination of programs, know that you are not alone in your journey. At Rise Malibu Rehab, we are here to support you every step of the way and help you find the resources and support you need to thrive in recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, reach out to Rise Malibu Rehab today to take the first step toward a brighter, healthier future.

Remember, recovery is possible, and help is available.

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