Since Alcoholics Anonymous delineated the 12 steps in 1938, hundreds of other groups have adopted similar language for other addictions and problems. Women for Sobriety (WFS) might seem like another one at first glance, but it’s not.
Similarities include that:
- Both are peer support communities that meet in person and online.
-Both have creeds (13 acceptances instead of 12 steps).
-Both advocate for abstinence rather than moderation.
-Both are nonprofit organizations whose meetings are free to attend (although donations are accepted to help defray the costs).
Differences include the fact that WFS is a younger organization. A sociologist started it in 1975. For another, membership is limited to women. It’s based on the principles that women in recovery have special emotional needs, so recovery programs should help them
- Nurture feelings of self-value and self-worth.
-Discard feelings of guilt, shame, and humiliation.
Women for Sobriety and its New Life Program teach self-empowerment and sisterhood, positive thinking, meditation, healthy lifestyles and diets, and ways to create social safety nets.
WFS believes that substance use disorder begins as a coping mechanism for the guilt, depression, and stress that women experience in competing societal roles.
Studies have suggested that Women for Sobriety is as effective as 12-step programs for individuals with alcohol use disorder.
Meetings usually follow the same structured format:
Reading of the 13 acceptances (though they come in pairs, so there are really 26) in a call-and-response type format (one person reads the first statement, and the group as a whole reads the next).
Introductions by the attendees that are similar to AA introductions of “My name is blank and I’m an alcoholic.” WFS members say, “My name is blank and I am a competent woman,” followed by sharing a positive event since the last meeting. These statements begin with the phrase “This week I … ,” and are usually connected to one of the acceptances.
Reading of the WFS mission statement and its group agreement (which states that “Sisters in the Women for Sobriety New Life Program are 4C women,” meaning capable, competent, caring, and compassionate).
Group discussion of a topic.
Meetings typically close with a group reading of the WFS motto while holding hands. The motto is: “We are capable and competent, caring and compassionate, always willing to help another, bonded together in overcoming our addictions." (Twelve-step meetings often end with a prayer.)
In keeping with the 4C message, WFS is about sharing, not preaching. Every woman will have a unique path to recovery. The members are respectful in their language and attitude (no verbal abuse, no interrupting or talking over each other).
Finally, Women for Sobriety features six levels of recovery. These levels are also akin to the 12 steps in that they measure progress to recovery.
If a member should relapse, in part or whole, she revisits an earlier level. The levels encourage WFS members to
- Admit to addictions.
- Commit to abstinence.
- Remove negativity by journaling.
- Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
- Improve relationships.
- Find their place in the world spiritually.
Women for Sobriety is open to any woman who wants to end her addiction. “All expressions of female identity are welcome.”
Meeting finder - womenforsobriety.org/meetings/
Email address - [email protected]
Online support - https://wfsonline.org/signup
Address - P.O. Box 618, Quakertown, PA 18951
Phone number - (215) 536-8026