For people who have become dependent or addicted to drugs or alcohol, they are likely to have some awareness of the 12-Step program. The 12 Steps were devised by Alcoholics Anonymous to provide a supportive framework for a life in sobriety, although they are commonly confused as being a form of addiction treatment. Although many of us know someone who has been saved from addiction issues by AA, there are now many different forms of treatment available including non 12 Step rehab.
This is not to say that the 12-Step approach has no value in modern addiction treatment. In fact, it is significant that the approach is now incorporated and combined with medical therapies to provide more well-rounded and effective rehab. What this means in real terms is that just as everyone with addiction issues has their own backstory, treatment programs can now be tailored to meet individual needs.
The problem with following the 12-Steps as a form of rehab on its own is that it fails to address underlying issues that contribute to a person’s addiction. Studies suggest that only 30% of people attending AA meetings are likely to actively participate fully in the 12-step program, with many being unaware that there are alternative approaches available to them. Here we take a closer look at some of the other options available for support through addiction rehab and recovery as alternatives to 12-step, which includes:
- Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Recovery
- Women for Sobriety (WFS)
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (S.O.S.)
- Moderation Management
Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Recovery
SMART Recovery is a cognitive behavioral approach to addiction treatment offered at non 12 step rehab centers that allows patients to recognize the environmental and emotional factors behind their misuse of alcohol and drugs. The SMART philosophy involves encouraging an evolution in the patient’s mind that allows them to respond to negative stimulus in more productive ways. SMART Recovery is a recognized resource by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and also the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
The SMART Recovery Program provides guidance and support in the following areas:
- Coping with cravings
- Managing negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors
- Learning to live in balance
Women for Sobriety (WFS)
WFS were the first gender-specific program providing support for women with alcohol dependence and addiction in America, founded in 1976. This approach is based on 13 positive affirmations known as ‘acceptance statements’ that are fully focused on promoting a patient’s responsibility for their own personal growth. With positive themes underpinning group therapy, women in particular are encouraged to learn self-acceptance and better ways to express how they are thinking and feeling.
The principle behind WFS is that women are in many ways more vulnerable to societal pressures, often internalizing negative feelings for fear of being harshly judged. A socialized inability to set boundaries and assert themselves often leads women to find solace in drugs or alcohol. Support from WFS can be highly effective in replacing these behaviors to establish a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
Many people with addiction issues seek support from non 12 step rehab centers with no affiliation with any religious or spiritual organization. Secular programs are extremely effective in providing support for people who would be unlikely to respond to other more spiritual approaches. SOS programs are open to anyone and are completely confidential and free of charge, although donations are always more than welcome for this non-profit organization. The only condition of attending is continued abstinence and individuals are able to learn how to use rational thought and logic to take responsibility for themselves and their actions through group discussions. There is a strong ‘team’ spirit at SOS centers and the successes of one are shared by everyone in the group, which can be highly motivational for someone seeking non 12 step rehab.
The majority of support groups require members to remain abstinent while they are attending, but Moderation Management is an entirely different approach. Moderation Management or MM is designed to target problem drinking or drug abuse before it become dependence or addiction. Some people are more than capable of drinking regularly and sometimes heavily without developing dependence or even engaging in negative behaviors.
However, prolonged use of alcohol or drugs will still have a strong impact on an individual’s physical and mental health and so MM seeks to alter risky behaviors by promoting a healthier lifestyle that doesn’t necessarily depend on complete abstinence.
The nature of Moderation Management means that it is unlikely to be suitable for someone who has already developed dependence or addiction. MM is founded on the belief that alcohol and drug misuse and abuse is a choice that becomes a habit that can be changed through the use of intervention strategies.
Why Alternatives to 12-Step Recovery are Necessary
When someone is at the point in their addiction journey where they want to seek rehab, it is important that they know of the many options available to them. Traditional approaches such as the 12-Step Program although highly successful over the years, are simply not for everyone. Some may feel more comfortable in therapy with other women or men in a gender-specific program, whereas others may seek less spiritual and more logical principals to align themselves to with secular rehab. Ultimately, everyone with addiction issues travels their own road but it is essential to feel completely supported by people who understand them, which is why non 12 step recovery programs can be highly effective.