Anyone who has researched addiction treatment facilities will probably have been struck by the prevalence of traditional 12 step treatment centers. Despite the fact that 12 step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are known around the world, there are alternatives. In this article, we take an unbiased look at the pros and cons of both 12 step treatment centers and their alternatives for substance abuse support and treatment.
The Pros and Cons of 12 Step Residential Treatment
Varied Options: Due to the fact that 12 step is by far the most common kind of recovery model there are plenty of options. According to American Addiction Centers (AAC) almost three-quarters of treatment centers in the US offer a 12 step recovery program.
Convenience: 12 step treatment centers are the most convenient due to the sheer scale of the organization, with meetings taking place all over the world.
Aftercare: 12 Step support groups offer continued care throughout a person’s lifetime which allows them to receive support and give back to others even after achieving sobriety.
Affordable: The majority of 12 step recovery programs use volunteers to lead sessions and coordinate support among group members which makes it affordable for most people.
Cultural acceptance: Because 12 step rehab centers have been around since the 1930s when the movement was founded, it has now been integrated into popular culture to the extent that many people assume it is the only option for rehab available.
Low success rates: According to studies, the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous is just 5-10%.
Volunteers vs. professional counselors: Although 12 step is more affordable than other options, this is because it is managed and run by volunteers, often members who have completed the steps themselves. However, this means that counselors lack the training of their counterparts in non-12 step centers.
Lack of individualized care: The 12-step approach is basically a strategy that has to be followed by all participants in the same way. This means there is no allowance for the individual in the process and a lack of one-to-one counseling which many people require to achieve recovery.
Pros and Cons of Non 12 Step Recovery Programs
More effective: Most non 12 step rehab centers record higher success rates than 5 to 10 percent although it is always worth asking how the figures are calculated when researching treatment programs.
Integrate evidence-based psychology: Many non 12 step programs offer evidence-based therapies as an integrated component of a treatment program. This provides a more personalized and effective way of goal-setting than 12 steps which requires members to systematically work through the stops.
More counseling: Non-12 step rehab centers generally offer more counseling than the traditional method of recovery support. This is mainly because the ethos of 12 step is set in stone whereas alternative approaches are much more flexible, with regular counseling to ensure the individual is progressing well through treatment.
Diversity of approaches: There are several different systems and approaches to addiction recovery in non 12 step. Some rehab centers have a complementary or holistic focus using many different and ancient healthcare practices to guide people to recovery in a natural process.
Fewer: According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), around 26% of rehab centers in the US offer non 12 step programs. This is obviously not to the same scale as the 12 step organization which has groups all over the world. Nevertheless, there are plenty of non 12 step options available.
Possible inconvenience: Due to the fact there are fewer non 12 step rehab centers, it may be harder to locate one locally. That said, there are over 1,000 non-12 step treatment centers in America and so there are plenty of options to choose from.
Effectiveness of 12-Step Versus Non 12-Step Recovery Programs
The effectiveness of any rehab program depends entirely on the individual. For people who have a strong religious conviction or spiritual beliefs, 12 step is likely to be the most effective approach for them. However, an increasing number of people do not align themselves with any particular religion or philosophy and are skeptical about whether the 12 step approach is for them.
Ultimately, there is no one approach to treating individuals with substance use disorder. The individual’s motivation to overcome their illness plays a key role in how successful they are in rehab. However, because addiction is not an illness that can be cured overnight and always carries the potential for relapse, finding the right rehab approach for primary care is paramount.
For many people, the 12 step approach is not a good fit for their modern day lives. This is largely because of the moralistic stance the program takes which can alienate individuals with opposing views. In the decades since 12 step was founded, the program has lost its relevance for many people in today’s society. Fortunately, there are now several different routes to recovery that have been tried and tested through the years which are a highly effective and more relevant alternative.