Isn’t AA (or 12-Step) Enough?

people sitting in chairs in an AA meeting

Holistic Substance Use Disorder Treatment

In May, I celebrated 31 years of sobriety. I’ve seen a lot of changes in the recovery community over the years. One encouraging change is the open, and sometimes even welcoming perspective on the need for professional help for some people in recovery through 12-Step participation.

It’s important to know, also, that 12-Step participation is not the only healthy way to respond to a substance use disorder.

Holistic treatment for substance use disorder understands these two important concepts:

  • Equifinality – there are many pathways to the same outcome (in this case, a health sobriety)
  • Multifinality – that a person can start in the same context and end up in a different place.

Early on in 12-Step settings, there was a reluctance (and sometimes even a hostility) towards getting help outside of “having a program” or “working the steps.” In the last 30 years, addiction research and science has abundantly identified the need to treat co-occurring issues such as anxiety or depression, to support families and partnerships, and to effect changes in thinking and behavior in ways that are not always accessible through exclusively 12-Step engagement.

But the OG of 12-Step groups was actually forward thinking:

From Alcoholics Anonymous (what is known as the AA “Big Book”)

Now about health: A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling. We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative. We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health. But we have seen remarkable transformations in our bodies. Hardly one of our crowd now shows any dissipation.

But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward. –Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 133 (The Family Afterward)

man with book in his lap to suggest AA big book

The truth is that “working a program” may well be “enough” for many people in recovery. Or it may be enough at different seasons of life. A holistic program in which the person in recovery lives in steps 10 – 12 and according to pages 84 – 88 of the “Big Book” goes far to build a healthy sober life.

However, engaged AA participation often does not heal co-occurring issues such as anxiety, trauma, or depression. It does not address grief, children acting out, or career challenges. Even dedicated work with a sponsor may not heal relationships; if you are active in AA, you’ve probably heard that a sponsor is not a marriage counselor.

 What Can “Outside” Help Do?

There are a multitude of trained and licensed professionals who can help you sort through challenges beyond early recovery. I have assisted clients through the stress and psychology of adding to their family with the birth of a child, with becoming empty nesters, with buying a home, with responding to the needs of an addicted child, as they consider a career change, and with addressing life-long anxiety. Other topics include:

  • Relapse prevention from the medical and behavioral model
  • Depression, grief, trauma
  • Chronic or acute illness
  • Impact of natural disasters
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Deepening a spiritual program
  • Cognitive Behavioral therapy to affect change

a picture showing a graphic about cognitive behavior therapy

I would be honored to help you add to your recovery at the next level. Contact me by phone (281-740-7563) or email ( to schedule a session.

For a Budget and Resource Friendly Option:

Marilyn Mooney is a skilled and experienced therapist who can integrate 12-Step recovery, holistic recovery, and is especially helpful with clients who feel “stuck” on either side of a sobriety date.

Marilyn is a budget friendly therapist and able to meet a range of clients and work with your family resources.

people sitting in chairs in an AA meeting



24618 Kingsland Blvd 2nd Floor, Room 8
Katy, TX 77494
On the left hand side of the CLS building
(281) 740-7563

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