Will an Alcoholism Treatment Program Require You to Make Amends?

Will an alcoholism treatment program require you to make amends? This question almost exclusively relates to alcohol treatment programs based on AA’s 12 Step Program. While it has indeed helped millions to get sober and stay that way, it’s definitely not for everyone. Not everyone is comfortable sitting with a group of strangers and talking about very intimate details of their lives. There is also the question of security. If you reveal something incriminating or very embarrassing, how can you be sure no one will repeat it? AA meetings are supposed to be anonymous. No one gives their last name, but it’s always possible that someone there will already know who you are.

AA: The 12 Step Program

You should also know that AA disapproves of and forbids the use of any kind of drug maintenance medications. Conversely, they do not have a problem with nicotine addiction. Smoking is perfectly acceptable. It really makes no sense. AA, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t condemn one addictive drug at the same time as you allow another. If you don’t believe that AA does that, just watch the great clouds of smoke floating upwards from outside of where an AA meeting just concluded.

AA requires you to give over control of your life to a higher power. Not everyone is comfortable with this. Some people may want to keep their own control. The idea of amends in AA comes from its Step 9, which says that you must go out and make direct amends to those you have harmed. You must do this unless it would cause even more harm than to not do so. But how would you know that either way? It’s the follow-up to Step 8, which requires you to make a list of all those you have harmed. This is daunting, to say the least. It’s also not practical. It’s even somewhat ridiculous. It’s one thing to apologize for your past drug behavior to those close to you. It’s quite another to seek out every single person you ever wronged because of alcohol. Maybe they don’t even want you to. Worse, it changes nothing. The past is past. You can’t unring the bell.

That said, if you attend an AA-based alcohol rehab program, you will indeed have to follow their steps and do what they say. You will have to make amends. However, there is an alternative. Lots of alcohol rehabs aren’t based on AA at all. You can attend one of those. Then you won’t have to follow some arcane program that makes no sense to you to begin with. Here are a few alternatives:


It stands for Self Management and Recovery Training. It’s free. Here are some major points:

  • Supportive meetings
  • Evidence-based
  • Not religious

You will learn coping and cognitive skills and how to motivate yourself for long-term

Moderation Management

This one uses group meetings and a 9 Step Program not related to AA’s 12 Steps. It requires complete abstinence from alcohol for at least 30 days. It promotes early intervention, self-accountability and self-awareness. It also stresses harm to the body from drinking excessive alcohol. It’s not religious. You will learn how to set goals and control and monitor drinking habits.

Women for Sobriety

For females who prefer to work on their sobriety only with other women. Some program highlights are:

  • Six levels of recovery and 13 acceptance statements
  • Private phone support
  • Not religious
  • For substance abuse of all kinds
  • Certified moderators and group leaders

It teaches how to identify problems that led to substance abuse and how to address those problems now and in the future. It helps you to learn new ways of coping without drugs and alcohol. It’s free.

These are all free-standing programs, but some of these may be associated with certain drug and alcohol rehabs. If not, you still have plenty of rehabs that don’t follow AA. These programs use different kinds of evidence-based therapy and group and individual counseling. They may also offer alternative therapies like art therapy, music therapy, and animal therapy. If you’re not comfortable with a rehab facility that is based on AA, you’re not alone. And you don’t have to go there.

If you have a problem with alcohol and you know you need help, we are here to help. Just call us anytime at 833-762-3739. We understand that AA is not for everyone. Our professional counselors will help you find the kind of alcohol rehab that is right for you.