Non 12-Step Alcohol Treatment for Men

Until recently, alcohol treatment for men that was not based on AA and the 12 Steps was nearly impossible to find. However, for over a decade as a team, and the past 20 as individuals, we have been able to offer research based solutions that have far better outcomes than the 5% attributed to AA.

“No one should be paying $30,000 (and usually far more) to go to what amounts to three 12-step meetings a day,” says Dr. Mark Willenbring, the former director of treatment and recovery research at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “It’s like “going to an oncology center and getting prescribed a macrobiotic diet instead of chemotherapy.”

To make matters worse, alcohol treatment for men, in order to be successful, needs to be different from alcohol treatment for women – and it almost never is.

Why? There are several reasons. Traditional 12- Step treatment programs are group based and group based programs almost never work in alcohol treatment for men because they only address issues in generalities- if at all. To be successful, you need your issues addressed specifically. Also, the groups are generally mixed groups with whoever is at the program that week – young, old, males, female – and their issues probably won’t be your issues. After all, what do you really have in common with a 20 year old female cocaine addict?

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Additionally, 12 Step based treatment, which is what 90% of all treatment programs are based on, is not based on addressing your issues but on indoctrinating you into a cult of powerlessness. Can any man really get over his alcohol abuse by thinking of himself as a powerless victim of his “disease”? We think not. In general, we have found that men do not like to think of themselves as victims. It is disempowering and goes against the grain of most men in our society.

Besides the issues mentioned above, men and women approach their problems in very different ways. Women like to talk a lot about their issues, and many enjoy talking and sharing in groups, men don’t – at least not in groups. Men also tend to address their issues actively.

As a man, you are good at “doing stuff” and as a result, you suffer from depression at only half the rate women do. But, unhappily, when it comes to alcohol abuse and alcoholism, most of what you leap in and do makes little or no sense. As men, you need to stop long enough to figure out what you’re using alcohol for and what the effective alternatives are.

That’s right. Stop, talk, consider, develop some self-awareness, and come up with a plan that actually addresses the problems. And yes, as an aside, that’s different from the typical and traditional alcohol treatment for women, who are only too happy to talk endlessly and never get around to actually doing anything.

Still, for alcohol treatment for men to be effective, it has to be built around you as an individual, not group programs that come down to indoctrination into AA, an approach with a success rate of under 5%.

How does this all work when you came to see us?

It starts with an accurate assessment of the actual problems you are addressing with your drinking. Again, the usual suspects are anxiety, boredom, loneliness, depression, physical pain, disappointment, and controlling, exploitive and/or abusive spouses. Yes, men are also victimized by their spouses – much more often than society acknowledges.

After assessment, and the identification of the mosaic of underlying conditions, alcohol treatment for men involves the use of proven tools and approaches to create a mosaic of solutions. Happily, research has identified what actually works. The following is a list of options from most to least effective and is updated from the “Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches” by Miller and Hester, 2003.

1. Brief Interventions;
2. Motivational Enhancement;
3. Community Reinforcement;
4. Self-Change Manual;
5. Naltrexone;
6. Behavioral Self-Control;
7. Behavior Contracting;
8. Social Skills Training;
9. Marital Therapy – Behavioral;
10. Aversive therapy;
11. Case Management;
12. Cognitive Therapy;

27. Group Counseling;

36. Minnesota Model Treatment
37. 12 Step Facilitation;
38. AA;

Using our own research and clients’ experience, we’ve added Assertiveness Training to the list of most effective tools for supporting change while incorporating all of the top 12 components listed above with the exception of Aversive Therapy – we don’t agree with punishing you in any way, shape, or form. You’ve already used alcohol to do that to yourself and it’s time for that pattern to end, too.

Remember too, that our work with you is based on realities like:

  • alcohol abuse is a choice, not a disease,
  • you are powerful not powerless,
  • you can fully recover and should never end up “in recovery”
  • you can return to “normal” and not isolate yourself,
  • you can develop genuine relationships and friendships, not the pseudo-ones of a cult,

Call us today. We answer the phones ourselves 888-541-6350 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. California time.

While the process and outcomes of alcohol treatment for men will vary with every individual (which is why we only work with individuals and couples) a recent client favored us with the following review of his work with us:

“Sometimes, One Just Can’t Do It Alone”

“As a self-driven individual, all my life I have been able to get things done on my own initiative, never really needing the guidance or support of others.

– I quit smoking one day and started running the next day in the mid-1970s
– I have worked-out almost everyday for the last 37 years
– I left other bad habits from the 1970’s behind midway into the 1980’s
– I started my successful consulting business in the early 1990’s

Drinking had always been a part of my life – socially and in business, to celebrate, or simply to party, and at times would get a bit out of control; and when this happened, I was able to slow down or even quit for periods of time.

I did attempt AA a few times but could not identify or relate with the others attendees and the whole 12 step process of their meetings. Once I tried one of those “retreats” but upon arrival when they treated me like an addict, I decided that was not for me and left within less than 6 hours.

But as of a few years ago, the drinking began to progress and escalate, and to such a point that a few months ago I realized it was out of control.

When researching alternatives on the web I found the Non 12 Step program of Dr. Ed Wilson & Dr. Mary Ellen Barnes along with two other programs – a local 5 – 6 week outpatient program and another at an expensive 30 day inpatient retreat.

I called them all up to find out more and after speaking with Dr. Wilson on a Saturday, decided on Sunday to make the trip out to visit them the next day (Monday) after Dr. Wilson & Dr. Barnes were flexible enough to accommodate their schedule to meet mine even though it meant breaking up the 5-day session into two periods – first 3 days one week followed by 2 days the following week.

Not only was I grateful for their understanding of my need for urgency, but the fact that I could stay at a hotel, have free time and basically live a normal “traveling” life, was very appealing and ultimately most rewarding.

The daily 3 hour sessions seemed to go by very quickly and were actually enjoyable; and the “homework” every night kept me focused. But what in my opinion made their program most successful for me, was their ability to make me step out of my shoes and look at myself objectively – at my life, and, of course, at my drinking.

It made me realize that I was drinking so much because there was something else going on that was very wrong….and the drinking had become a severe symptom of that other malady.

And I believe that their ability to do this stems from their professional backgrounds, the fact that they developed their program based on years of experience with patients (including relatives or others close to them), their sincere desire to help, and also because they are real people who can identify with what kind of person the patient really is.

Today I am again focused, re-energized, my drinking is under control and I have the same positive outlook on life as I always used to have.

Many thanks Ed and Mary Ellen for helping me get my life back on track.”

We thank Mr. A for summarizing things better than we could and also hope that his perspective helps you to appreciate that you too, can benefit from an individual, research based, approach that empowers you by identifying and addressing underlying issues, habits, and behaviors that lead to a happier life.

Remember, truly happy people don’t have alcohol problems. Wouldn’t you prefer a happier life?

We’re here whenever you’re ready to start down that real road, not the dead end or alcohol or AA. And what’s wrong with today? It’s just a call, not a commitment.


Click here for more information on our Intensive Outpatient Alcohol Treatment For Men

Click here for more information on AA Alternative/Non 12 Step Outpatient Alcohol Treatment For Men 

Click here for more information on Confidential Outpatient Alcohol Treatment For Men