HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous

As a service to its members HAMS offers this listing of alternatives to AA. These programs do not require one to rely on a Higher Power or the 12 steps to deal with their alcohol use. HAMS welcomes its members to participate in anything in addition to HAMS which helps them including any of these programs. Whatever works.

The descriptions given here are brief--for more complete descriptions please visit the June Archive of The Alcohol Harm Reduction Blog.

HAMS (Harm Reduction, Abstinence and Moderation Support)

Of course we list ourselves first ;-). HAMS is unique in its approach to alcohol problems in that HAMS includes a strong harm reduction component based on the harm reduction principles of HRC and UKHRA. As our name says--we support each individual in their chosen goal--whether harm reduction, abstinence or moderation.

My Way Out (MWO)

My Way Out is a program which encourages either moderation or abstinence as a goal. MWO has a strong emphasis on the use of dietary supplements and medications such as topamax (topiramate) as aids to abstinence or moderation.

Moderation Management (MM)

MM is a harm elimination program which provides support to people seeking a goal of moderate drinking. MM moderate drinking limits are 4 drinks per day and 14 per week for men and 3 drinks per day and 9 per week for women. MM encourages members who fail to remain within these limits to leave MM and seek an abstinence based program.

SMART Recovery (Self Management And Recovery Training)

SMART supports the goal of abstinence. SMART has some good Cognitive Behavioral tools on their web site. HAMS recommends that people check out the SMART toolbox whether their goal is harm reduction, abstinence or moderation.

Women For Sobriety (WFS)

WFS supports the goal of abstinence. WFS was founded by Jean Kirkpatrick in response to some things about AA which she felt were harmful to women. Kirkpatrick felt that most women who drink heavily suffer from low self esteem, and that this self esteem is damaged even further by AA's ego deflation strategies. HAMS feels that many drinkers both men and women suffer from low self esteem and that anyone can benefit from the WFS program.

SOS (Save Our Selves)

SOS supports the goal of abstinence. SOS was founded by secular humanist Jim Christopher who found that no higher power was required for a person to abstain from alcohol.


LifeRing supports the goal of abstinence. LifeRing is an offshoot of SOS and has many philosophical similarities to SOS.

Rational Recovery (RR)

RR supports the goal of abstinence. RR was founded by Jack Trimpey and was originally a support group. Trimpey later decided that support groups were an addiction in and of themselves and disbanded the RR support groups, many of which become SMART Recovery groups. HAMS recommends Trimpey's The Small Book (Rational Recovery Systems) as having many useful tips for people doing abstinence--whether long term or short term.

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