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A July 10 commentary asked, "Could AA help more people if it were not Christian-centric?" Well, maybe, but there are better options out there for people who want a secular alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous.

While Alcoholics Anonymous has undeniably helped countless people, it is not for everyone. Just removing references to God from AA's 12 steps does not address important underlying issues.

AA's 12 steps call on members to admit they are powerless over alcohol and must rely on something outside of themselves to recover. The AA program treats addiction as a moral issue — or, as Step 2 suggests, a form of insanity.

Star Tribune readers should know that other approaches exist. As a nonreligious man in long-term recovery, I went through treatment four times without success and attended many AA meetings. Five years ago, I found a game-changer: a program called SMART Recovery, which uses REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) and other evidence-based tools to encourage me to help myself.

Other secular options include SOS (Secular Organizations for Recovery), Women for Sobriety and LifeRing. But such alternatives face a major hurdle: the pervasiveness of AA in our culture.

Whenever a movie or television show depicts a person attending a recovery meeting, it is invariably AA. The vast majority of treatment facilities offer only 12-step programs; very few even make their clients aware of alternative options. When complying with probation or parole requirements, people are often mandated to have an AA (or Narcotics Anonymous) sponsor. But sponsors are not a part of most secular options.

In my work as Minnesota outreach coordinator for SMART Recovery, I deal on a daily basis with people who prefer a secular treatment program. SMART Recovery holds thousands of meetings worldwide, operates in 35 countries and has a handbook that has been translated into 17 languages. But it is still difficult to escape AA's shadow and bring more awareness to those who might benefit from an alternative.

SMART Recovery has six weekly in-person meetings in the Minneapolis area and several online meetings available. SOS, LifeRing and Women for Sobriety also have online meetings for those looking for an alternative to AA.

With the help of HumanistsMN, American Atheists and Secular Strategies, SMART Recovery is working to introduce legislation in Minnesota to make more options available to those seeking a pathway to recovery more suitable to their personal beliefs.

I have seen the positive impact that AA and NA can have, but I have also seen many people for whom a program that asks you to give the problem up to a higher power is a nonstarter.

Those people need to know there are alternatives. AA may be the most prominent game in town, but it is not the only one.

Steven Kind is a certified peer recovery specialist, Minnesota outreach coordinator for SMART Recovery and author of "Inspirational Dissatisfaction."