Wiccan and Pagan Twelve Steps and Alternative Programs for Recovery

Wiccan Pagan Twelve Steps Recovery

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Substance abuse is present in every group, including with Wiccans and Pagans. Recovery poses a unique challenge for Wiccans and other Pagans because of the prevalence of Judeo-Christian twelve step models like AA. This is unfortunate because then many Wiccans do not feel comfortable seeking help. If only there were viable options for Wiccan and Pagan twelve steps (and alternative) programs, right?

Don’t worry! There are actually many suitable options. Aside from the twelve steps framework, there is an abundance of secular recovery organizations out there now with different philosophies and world views that many Pagans can become comfortable with.

Let’s discover some of the available options together.

Path to Recovery

Recovery is never easy but can be the most rewarding experience you may have in your life. Recovery is a chance to rebuild your entire life. You may have just accepted things in the past because of the status quo or just because you never stopped to consider them.

Recovery is a journey of questioning everything in your life, then deciding whether or not it serves you. No more addictions, patterns, ideas, or people which harm you. It’s taking full control of your life, which blends well with the Wiccan ideas of personal responsibility and balance.

You can learn new things about yourself and the world you live in, stop denying as a coping mechanism, teach others, and give a fresh update to your personal beliefs. You can literally change your thoughts, feelings, and behavior to bring you relief and happiness.

Recovery can become a part of your spiritual practice as well. Because recovery is a deeply personal and introspective journey, it harmonizes perfectly with your spiritual pursuits. 

What is 12 Step?

The “twelve stepOpens in a new tab.

The program makes reference to a higher power in the monotheistic Judeo-Christian sense. It is incorrect though to say that one must be a Christian to join AA. The only requirement to join AA is that you wish to stop drinking. It welcomes people of any religion or no religion.

The program is however, theistic, and the program is presented in a Christian framework. The central tenet of AA, is believing in and allowing a higher power to rescue you from alcohol. This is reflected throughout the twelve steps and in the Big Book.

Another facet of AA is that it uses the disease model of addiction. In this model, addiction is a disease of the brain which results from different brain structure. This means that the disease can be managed. although it will never go away. It is a permanent condition. Some Wiccans disagree with this model, believing it goes against personal responsibility and accepting consequences for one’s actions. 

A final component of AA is sponsorship. With sponsorship, newer members are partnered with more experienced members who have maintained sobriety for a long time. They offer the new member guidance and remain available for emotional support throughout the new member’s journey.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

This is AA’s sister organization. Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which was founded in the 1950s as a generalized form of AA. It doesn’t reference alcohol specifically. Rather it refers to addiction to any substance. As a result, NA is open to people with any substance addiction, whether it be drugs or alcohol.

Alternative 12 Step Programs

If you like the philosophy of the twelve steps but would like a Wiccan or Pagan adaptation, these are for you.

12 Steps for Pagans

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Wiccan 13 Step Path

The Wiccan 13 Step PathOpens in a new tab.

Spiral Steps

The Spiral StepsOpens in a new tab.

Secular AA

Secular AAOpens in a new tab.

Non-12 Step Programs

There is a huge variety of recovery programs outside of the 12-Step model. They are secular and often based in science. Most of them encourage practicality and offer tools and techniques for recovery. You can certainly embrace a higher power or some form of spirituality. However, they don’t focus on that. These programs instead zero in on your internal strength and power. They teach self-reliance, strength of character, and doing new and difficult things despite fear.

SMART Recovery

SMART RecoveryOpens in a new tab.

The program recognizes that addictions are short-term (albeit destructive) methods to cope with the ups and downs of life. As a result, the program focuses on self-empowerment and motivation. It provides coping techniques to manage thoughts and emotions, and it helps you find balance in your life.

SMART gives a variety of “tools for change” which you can use in recovery. The tools can also be used in any other area where you want to make positive change.

Rational Recovery

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LifeRingOpens in a new tab.

LifeRing seeks to help you strengthen your Sober Self and weaken the Addict Self. The organization doesn’t believe in mandates, steps, or sponsors and wants you to craft a unique program which works for you. 

Recovery Dharma

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Refuge Recovery

Refuge RecoveryOpens in a new tab.

Women for Sobriety

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Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

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Moderation Management

Unlike many recovery programs, Moderation ManagementOpens in a new tab.


There are a number of excellent books and other material on the subject of recovery and Paganism or Wicca, or appeal to Wiccan sensibilities. Here are some examples:

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