What Are Your Secular Alcohol Treatment Options?

5 May 2015
 Categories: , Articles


If you've recently made the difficult but courageous decision to seek help with an alcohol problem, you may be wondering about your next steps. And if you don't subscribe to any particular religion, or are an avowed atheist, you may wonder whether you'll be able to find a treatment program that doesn't focus on traditional religious ideals. Fortunately, there are now a number of rehab programs targeted toward those who place their primary faith in science and logic rather than a deity. Read on to learn more about what these types of programs offer, as well as what you can expect when you enter a secular or "atheist-friendly" rehabilitation center.

Why is there a niche for secular rehab?

Many rehab programs -- including the ubiquitous Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) -- have spiritual or religious bases. Patients seeking treatment are often encouraged to request from a higher power the strength to resist the temptation to drink. If you're not religious, you may bristle at this advice and instead wish for something more practical, such as tips to power through a craving or redirect your thoughts and actions. Although AA is helpful for many, if the religious aspect turns you off, it may not be helpful for you.

What secular rehab services are available?

There are several specific programs targeted to those who don't profess a belief in a higher power. These programs focus on diminishing the urge to drink by helping the person seeking treatment learn to identify and tackle several specific topics. These can include:

  • Motivations (such as learning to identify the emotional or physical triggers that cause you to crave alcohol)
  • Coping skills (like redirecting your thoughts when you find yourself tempted to drink)
  • Behavior management (such as helping you identify and avoid situations in which drinking is inevitable)
  • Living a balanced life

Often, this last point is the most difficult. Many individuals develop alcoholism after using alcohol to cope with the stress of everyday life. Although some stress is inevitable, if you feel like you're on a hamster wheel, you may need to make some changes -- such as switching your work hours, downgrading your expenses, or other sweeping changes that can give you some work-life balance and help you put your newfound coping mechanisms into practice.

You may find it beneficial to make regular therapy appointments even after your treatment has finished, so that you can remain on top of any potential issues that could affect your ability to cope with the stress of everyday life or cause you to want to backslide into drinking.

Will your health insurance pay for this rehab?

Many secular rehab programs (including those mentioned above) can be accessed on either an inpatient or outpatient basis. If you choose to go the outpatient route, you'll likely attend regular meetings as well as meet with a counselor to remain accountable for progress under the program. This option is cheaper, as it allows you to remain in your own residence and arrange your own transportation and food.

If you feel an inpatient stay would be more beneficial in helping you kick your drinking habit, you may be able to receive at least some insurance coverage for this treatment. Because alcoholism is recognized as a disease, rather than a choice, your health insurance policy should cover a portion of the costs associated with alcoholism treatment. Your specific insurance policy's payouts and caps may drive your decision of whether to seek inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Even if this treatment isn't covered by your health insurance, you'll likely be able to finance it through a payment plan. This can have the added bonus of keeping you accountable -- by making a monthly payment to erase your rehab debt, you'll reaffirm your commitment to staying sober.