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Getting alternative AA meetings approved by your program?

Posted

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

So, like most of us here, my monitoring program orders me to go to a set amount of AA or NA meetings a week. Celebrate Recovery is also on the approved list and al-Anon on a case-by-case basis.

Has anyone ever tried to get an alternative-AA or even a non-AA program approved by their monitoring program? Or is in a monitoring program that allows alternatives to straight AA/NA?

Non-AA groups would be like SMART or LifeRing. Alternative AA groups in my area are Buddhist-based or Atheist&Agnostic groups. I think I would have better luck pitching the alternative-AA groups since they are still basically AA and abstinence-based.

Anyone?

Big Blondie, ADN, BSN, MSN

Has 33 years experience.

Never tried, but I have had multiple stipulations altered and I do believe its partially due to presentation. Dont say aa na doesnt work for you as its a red flag. Maybe say you have attended these other groups and they helped you and enhanced your recovery .. You get the jist! Allthey can do is say yes or no!Good luck!

If ordered to go to AA/NA which are Spiritual and CR which is solidly Christian, then I would hope that other non-theistic recovery options would be approved as well.

I know that in recent years there has been push back in the courts so some are now allowing people to attend the non-theistic recovery groups. I strongly believe in freedom of religion or freedom from religion, depending on what the individual believes and don't think forcing non-theistic people to go AA/NA is right given our nation's love of freedom and diversity. I believe that it's a civil right issue.

I think all of the groups you mentioned are good groups and should be allowed by the BON's and the courts given how personal and intimate the recovery experience is and if sobriety is the goal then every effort should be made to ensure that participants basic needs are met and being in a group that matches their view of Higher Power, Jesus, Buddha, or Nothing, should be met.

The only logistical problem is that AA/NA meetings are so plentiful and the others aren't even if you live in big city. I researched all them while my sister was getting to her bottom so I would be ready with resources. She hit it and was court-mandated to a 12-step program- basically AA run by her County's Day program- then when done with that she's gone to AA meetings on her own for almost 3 years. She and a friend plan to drive to a Progressive/Liberal college town about an hour away to check out either SMART or LifeRing just to see what it's like.

This is an old closed thread on this very topic that may be helpful:

https://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/12-step-coercion-68978.html

Good Luck!!!

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

Never tried, but I have had multiple stipulations altered and I do believe its partially due to presentation. Dont say aa na doesnt work for you as its a red flag. Maybe say you have attended these other groups and they helped you and enhanced your recovery .. You get the jist! Allthey can do is say yes or no!Good luck!

Yikes! You got stipulations altered? Did you use a lawyer? The thought alone is making me nervous.

I am alternating between "well, all they can say is no" and fearing that I am going to be labeled as in denial, willful, or on the cusp of relapse if I rock the boat or hint the slightest that traditional AA hasn't just totally blown my socks off in regards to recovery. I don't want the extra scrutiny but I would also like to work a recovery program with integrity; if the point of the monitoring program is recovery, than I need to fully work a program that will provide me with the groundwork I need to stay sober after the UAs are done. There is something to be said about the ease of just keeping your head down and doing what is told of you...but I know people who did just that and are back in the monitoring program 3-4-5 years later. :/

This is an old closed thread on this very topic that may be helpful:

https://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/12-step-coercion-68978.html

You did that for your sister? That is so sweet. :inlove: I am happy that she is getting some sobriety under her belt as well. I am not in a huge metropolitan area but it's large enough that I could actually meet the AA-meeting criteria per week with SMART meetings if I wanted to do the driving. Has your sister looked into some of the secular Buddhist interpretations of AA? "One Breath at a Time" is a good read, although not 100% secular with the Buddhist teachings.

Thanks for the link! I spent a few hours reading it. I feel like the law aspects of privilege vs. property right goes right over my head although I am also aware of some of the recent rulings in regards to forced AA attendance.

Also glad that even over a decade ago, on this very website! the staunchly pro-AA and staunchly anti-AA folks both sounded like total loons. Nothing really changes.

Big Blondie, ADN, BSN, MSN

Has 33 years experience.

Depends on stipulations. All my requests were based on practice, and the fact that a peer assistance program is there to assist me in returning to safe practice, not to create stipulations that prevent me from practicing as an NP. Other medical professionals are not required to give up practicing for a year, or not write scripts for a year. How could I practice with those restrictions? Being forced to return to practice as an RN instead of advanced practice nurse was certainly not assisting me. No I did not use an attorney. That are just two of the things I was able to negotiate. There were several others, but again I do believe it was the way that I presented my case.

​I feel the same way, I think going back into the field I went to nursing school for and plan on restarting a career in is better to do while being monitored insteal of just doing whatever" until monitoring is done, that way I know I am being monitored in it for a long time before I am set on my own. But gosh if asking to have stipulations/restrictions changed doesn't give me some anxiety! I don't want to feel as of I am asking too much but I also don't know unless I try. If being told no is the worst that can happen I figure it is worth a try! Sometimes you will be surprised and get what you are requesting, and then can continuing working your program with out the anxiety of "what if" I just asked instead of ducking my head.

I had inquired about doing a celebrate recovery through my local church and there was no problem. However, they are 3 hours long and would only account for 1 meeting. I lived the celebrate recovery it was just to long for me to commit to every week with a new baby. I still go time to time and love them!

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

I had inquired about doing a celebrate recovery through my local church and there was no problem. However, they are 3 hours long and would only account for 1 meeting. I lived the celebrate recovery it was just to long for me to commit to every week with a new baby. I still go time to time and love them!

CR is allowed in my program. Are there many actual addicts at the one you attend? This girl in my monitoring meeting loves them but says that 98% of the attendees identify with overeating or codependency as their issues.

Only a few with drug/alcohol problems. Each time I go the group seems a little different. Wide rage of problems from divorcees to people grieving. I appreciate the fact the group/facilitator are always so welcoming. They do workshops, team building, trust building ect.

catsmeow1972, BSN, RN

Specializes in OR. Has 15 years experience.

I too am stuck with the stipulation of attending AA/NA meetings, never mind that my issue is mental health. Never have your evaluation at a place that has a financial interest in drug and alcohol recovery. You will be labeled alcoholic or addicted to anything they can think of to fleece you of many thousands of $$$. The particular place I wound up with (good grief, I should have researched more) I think, hands IPN the exact same recommendations for every. single. person. Nothing like inpatient AND outpatient treatment that is addiction focused when a person does not smoke, drink, do drugs and just has the misfortune of being clinically depressed and hitting bottom (for a variety of reasons). That being said, I made some effort at inquiring about alternate choices for the AA stuff because I am neither particularly religious nor do I have a very high personal opinion of the whole "insert issue here-anonymous shtick." (If it has helped people that have problems that it addresses, that's awesome but the doctrine and history of it all just does not sit well with me, nor does it make a lot of sense. But that's just me. I will not force my personal opinions on anyone else. I am also not comfortable socializing with people that I don't seem to have much in common with.

In any case, my efforts at finding approval for something that might actually be helpful and still meet the requirement have been soundly ignored. So I go to the meetings (usually AA, because they tend to not be in cracktown and seem a little safer). I sit there and discreetly read a book. I go, I am present and therefore fulfill the requirement. Nobody said I have to participate. Its a crappy attitude but it gets me through this and hopefully out the other side with a little of my sanity intact.

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

In any case, my efforts at finding approval for something that might actually be helpful and still meet the requirement have been soundly ignored. So I go to the meetings (usually AA, because they tend to not be in cracktown and seem a little safer). I sit there and discreetly read a book. I go, I am present and therefore fulfill the requirement. Nobody said I have to participate. Its a crappy attitude but it gets me through this and hopefully out the other side with a little of my sanity intact.

That's rough. :/ One of the things I try to find gratitude in with the monitoring program (aside from the fact that it has kept me sober) is that I know I have a problem and need to be in it. The people who don't need to be in it seem to struggle so much because it's unfair and usually unhelpful.

As someone who has struggled with severe mental illness (at times) for almost two decades, I do wish the mental health community had an equal to the addictions community that AA/NA have built up over the years. It is nice to be able to drop in pretty much any time, anywhere, for free and be surrounded by people who do understand you on at least some level because they share your problems.

Did you every get your request approved? I am right now struggling to get the courage to request my no nights stipulation change. I have two years sobriety and 100% complient, recently got my controlled sub access back but would like to do nights permanently. I work in a hospital setting so there is always supervision there but for some reason I am terrified to even ask my cm in VA. I feel like you just don't hear of monitored nurses doing nights. Does anyone have any suggestions or experience with this?

Edited by Vanursie
Not finished

In TPAPN- quite a few years ago- I got approved to work nights. It had been my regular shift before, & I had spent some time on days, but then was allowed to go back to nightshift.

Well that gives me some hope! Night shift was all I did for years and it has been hard adapting to days!

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

Did you every get your request approved? I am right now struggling to get the courage to request my no nights stipulation change. I have two years sobriety and 100% complient, recently got my controlled sub access back but would like to do nights permanently. I work in a hospital setting so there is always supervision there but for some reason I am terrified to even ask my cm in VA. I feel like you just don't hear of monitored nurses doing nights. Does anyone have any suggestions or experience with this?

Nights is not an immediate restriction in my state's monitoring program! I'm in Kansas. SO maybe you could use that as a defense point for why you should be able to work nights.

I brought up the subject with the director of my program during a monitoring meeting and he asked me to email him some information on the topic. (Well, first he wanted to debate how an Atheist can work an AA program without a higher power but I think that was some mental sparring on his part. lol.) Haven't gotten around to emailing him -- have been busy with work unfortunately. :/

Atheists can def recovery too! For the first year I used my cat as a higher power! Haha not sure why but it worked! My counselor said any of the meetings or programs such as SMART and a few others I forgot all count toward monthly meetings but unfortunately there is none of those available in our area. I've seen a lot of peers struggle with the aa concept and although I was not brought up religiously I felt okay going to aa meetings. I'm pretty much just open to any ideas or beliefs because I haven't a clue what's out there or where we stand in this world, Hopefully when you email him he approves it! I'm hoping I get approved for nights, it just always helps to hear other people have succeeded then it doesn't seem like such a big deal to ask for it to be considered

catsmeow1972, BSN, RN

Specializes in OR. Has 15 years experience.

I came across something called Rational Recovery. It's an online thing. Does not have face to face meetings but does do this online monitoring program that has actually been approved in lieu of the 12 step meetings. I think you check in however many times a week and can participate in a chat room setup. The gentleman that runs it has a lot of information about how forced AA etc attendance is actually a civil rights violation. Also has material on what is called AVRT. It's a method of working recovery in a non12 step manner. It's worth a look at. I am in the process of trying to get this okayed instead of drudging through meetings that don't apply to my issues and are not a productive endeavor. To paraphrase what someone said earlier, if I am going to have to do this, I would at least like to get some use out of it. In keeping with what I wrote previous, I have mental health issues, not an addiction issue. I am of no help to people in AA/NA etc. and they are not really of any help to me. How is that supposed to be "mutual support"? Even my therapist recommended to IPN that the meeting attendance be stopped as she feels it is counterproductive. Sadly, that's been soundly ignored.

I too am stuck with the stipulation of attending AA/NA meetings, never mind that my issue is mental health. Never have your evaluation at a place that has a financial interest in drug and alcohol recovery. You will be labeled alcoholic or addicted to anything they can think of to fleece you of many thousands of $$$. The particular place I wound up with (good grief, I should have researched more) I think, hands IPN the exact same recommendations for every. single. person. Nothing like inpatient AND outpatient treatment that is addiction focused when a person does not smoke, drink, do drugs and just has the misfortune of being clinically depressed and hitting bottom (for a variety of reasons). That being said, I made some effort at inquiring about alternate choices for the AA stuff because I am neither particularly religious nor do I have a very high personal opinion of the whole "insert issue here-anonymous shtick." (If it has helped people that have problems that it addresses, that's awesome but the doctrine and history of it all just does not sit well with me, nor does it make a lot of sense. But that's just me. I will not force my personal opinions on anyone else. I am also not comfortable socializing with people that I don't seem to have much in common with.

In any case, my efforts at finding approval for something that might actually be helpful and still meet the requirement have been soundly ignored. So I go to the meetings (usually AA, because they tend to not be in cracktown and seem a little safer). I sit there and discreetly read a book. I go, I am present and therefore fulfill the requirement. Nobody said I have to participate. Its a crappy attitude but it gets me through this and hopefully out the other side with a little of my sanity intact.

I absolutely agree. My diagnosis was self medicating for depression and social anxiety. I'm ok with very small groups where attention isn't on me and one on one interactions, but the AA/NA meetings I have attended make me very anxious and miserable making it impossible for me to gain anything out of the experience. I have tried to attend and get more comfortable in the situation, but feel the same way each time. I wish online meetings were accepted and would gave no problem actually participating, for once , in those. But they aren't, which is a shame. I am not gaining anything from these meetings because I just watch the clock until I can leave.