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The decision to quit drinking can be difficult, but just about anyone who has made a commitment to sobriety will tell you that it’s well worth it. What happens, though, when there are financial obstacles in the way of sobriety? Below, you will find four resources to help you quit drinking, whether you’ve decided to make the jump to an alcohol-free life because of an unhealthy relationship with drinking, or simply to improve your health and well-being.
Cost: Free / Suggested Donation
Alcoholics Anonymous has come to be a fixture of American culture since its founding in 1935, and many adherents to the 12-step recovery program credit the organization for helping them to quit drinking and achieve sobriety.
It is free to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The so-called “7th Tradition” of AA states that “every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions”, and while there is typically an approximately $1.00 – $5.00 suggested donation at each meeting, it is never required in order to participate.
AA meetings are held in just about every city and town in America, and in some other places around the world, taking place in churches and community centers like the YMCA. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many meetings are being held virtually via Zoom in order to observe local social distancing guidelines. Both in-person and virtual meetings can be found by Google searching your city’s “intergroup”. For example, the New York City Intergroup can be found by searching “New York City Intergroup AA”.
The 12 steps of AA recommend that followers surrender their egos, engage in deep reflection, make amends to those they have harmed during their time drinking, and connect with a “higher power”. It is believed that, done correctly, these steps can lead to life-long sobriety. For more information about the AA philosophy, you can read their free online publication, AA Grapevine.
It is important to note that Alcoholics Anonymous is not a professionally run rehab program, group therapy, or medical treatment. AA is operated almost entirely by volunteers, and 12-step meeting facilitators do not have clinical training in the treatment of alcoholism.
That said, many people have achieved sobriety using AA’s methodology. It can be a lifesaving and free resource for anyone who wants to quit drinking.
Cost: Free / Suggested Donation
Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) Recovery, like Alcoholics Anonymous, is a free mutual support group for people who want to quit drinking or stop using other addictive substances. SMART Recovery was founded in 1994 and there are now more than 2,000 established meetings around the United States and the World.
Attendance at SMART Recovery meetings is free. Donations are requested at the end of each meeting, but are not required.
SMART Recovery’s approach is based on a four point system that is designed to help members change self-destructive habits:
- Building and maintaining the motivation to change
- Coping with urges to use
- Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in an effective way without addictive behaviors
- Living a balanced, positive, and healthy life
SMART Recovery focuses on the present and future, encouraging members not to dig up the past. Their method is scientifically validated, and their group facilitators are trained to run meetings in a straightforward and organized way.
Please note that much like Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery is not a professionally run rehab program, group therapy, or medical treatment.
To find a meeting in your area, visit SMART Recovery’s Local Meetings page.
Rehab, Therapy, and Medication-Assisted Treatment
Cost: Varies / Covered by private insurance or Medicaid
In many cases, it is necessary to seek professional help when it’s time to stop drinking. If you have developed a physical dependence on alcohol – meaning that when you stop drinking, you experience severe withdrawal symptoms – it is extremely important to stop drinking under medical supervision in a detox facility. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal without proper treatment. Sometimes, when addiction to alcohol is severe, a 30-90 day stay in a rehab center is recommended as well.
Seeing a therapist to work on the underlying problems that lead to alcohol use, or obtaining medications that help reduce alcohol cravings can also be very helpful in supporting those who want to quit drinking.
Behavioral healthcare (therapy, psychiatry, etc.) has a reputation for being costly, but it is possible to find affordable care.
Medicaid & Medicare: The Affordable Care Act (aka. Obamacare) requires that health insurance cover behavioral healthcare, including addiction treatment. While Medicaid and Medicare plans vary, your plan will cover any addiction treatment in an in-patient or out-patient setting that is deemed medically necessary.
Here are a few places where you can find in-patient and out-patient treatment covered by Medicaid or Medicare:
- Addictionresource.net compiles a list of quality inpatient rehab centers, searchable by state. Many facilities listed in this directory accept Medicaid and Medicare.
- Psychology Today hosts a massive directory of mental health providers all over the U.S. To find a provider who accepts Medicaid or Medicare, visit their website, select your state, and select Medicaid or Medicare under the insurance search filter.
- Similarly, you can use ZocDoc to search for providers who accept Medicaid or Medicare in the “insurance carrier and plan” search field.
For those who do not have insurance, there are some additional options.
Sliding-Scale Mental Health Providers: Many mental health providers, including therapists (talk therapy) and psychiatrists (medication management), offer their services on a “sliding scale”. In other words, they charge a lower fee based on the patient’s income level. It is also possible to search for sliding-scale providers in Psychology Today’s directory using the “price” filter.
Psychotherapy / Psychoanalytic Training Institutes: Sometimes when therapists have completed their basic training, they go on to earn advanced certification at training institutes. These training institutes often offer low-cost, high quality therapy, provided by their trainees. To find a training institute in your area, try searching terms like “low cost therapy [your state or city] training institute”.
Books About How Others Quit Drinking
Cost: Free at your local library
When it comes to making major life changes, some inspiration from others who share our experience can motivate and inspire us to keep going. And, as they say, knowledge is power. Check out some of these great reads at your local library or community book shop.
- Drinking: A Love Story, by Caroline Knapp
- A Drinking Life, by Pete Hamill
- Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction, by Elizabeth Vargas
- Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary, by Jasmin Guy
- We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life, by Laura McKowen
- Angel on My Shoulder: An Autobiography, by Natalie Cole and Digby Diehl
- From Recovery to Discovery: My Journey Through Addiction, by Felicia Lee-Sexton
- God and Starbucks: An NBA Star Loses Everything, Starts Over, and Achieves Success, by Vin Baker
- Being Sober: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting To, Getting Through, and Living in Recovery, by Harry Hartounian
- Her Best-Kept Secret: Inside the Private Lives of Women Who Drink, by Gabrielle Glaser
- Dry: A Memoir, by Augusten Burroughs
- The Recovering, by Leslie Jamison
Quitting drinking is possible, no matter what your bank account balance is. We hope you find these resources helpful in your journey toward an alcohol-free life!