What are the Differences at a Non 12 Step Program and Rehab?
Wouldn’t life be simple if we humans could all just be the standard pegs that fit perfectly into the matching round hole? But the reality is that people are as diverse as Forest Gump’s box of chocolates. The differences between us sometimes seem to far outnumber what we share in common, based on the many intellectual and physical stimuli that float our boats.
When it comes to treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, the same individualized forces that help us form preferences—from choosing a chocolate to deciding what church to attend or which politician to vote for—come into play. We don’t all respond to the same systems and stimuli, and in addiction treatment it is particularly important to have choices.
AA vs. Non 12 Step Program
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been a dominating force in addiction recovery since the late 1930s. There is no disputing its position as an effective tool in helping so many in recovery, but AA is not for everyone. AA is built upon a spiritual platform, where the participants are expected to submit to a Higher Power and humbly proclaim that they are addicts for perpetuity, and this may offend those who are not religious or spiritual.
AA (including Narcotics Anonymous (NA)) features very controlled and scripted meetings, where cross-talk (discussion) is not permitted inside the meetings. This doesn’t resonate with a person who desperately wants to engage in discussion with others who are also in recovery. The language of the 12 steps themselves is not always embraced and can be off-putting to some who take issue with the messages therein, such as identifying themselves as powerless and defective.
Non 12 step programs, on the other hand, offer an alternative to the AA approach. These programs have been gaining popularity since the 1970s, each with a unique niche in the recovery program arena. Having options available is crucial to someone who sincerely wants to get—and stay—sober, and the non 12-step programs offer individual choices. For many, fellowship of some kind is intrinsic to long-term success in achieving lasting sobriety, so having options available can absolutely make the difference.
Non 12 step programs, while differing from each other in many ways, share a common thread; they offer a recovery program that is not AA. Someone new in recovery may be turned off by the fundamental spiritual platform of AA and think there is nothing else out there. They may fail in their quest to remain sober simply because they could not find a support system that meshes with their beliefs and personality. Non 12-step programs address this void by presenting options for someone entering treatment or newly recovering.
Types of Non 12 Step Programs
Alternative Addiction treatment programs may be 30 day, 60 day, or 90 days in length. Typically, most programs are geared toward the 30-day plan, but the most effective programs are the 90-day treatment plans. A 90 day program allows enough time for the brain to heal, to re-route neural pathways that have been hijacked by the addictive substance, and, most importantly, to allow a therapist time to discover and treat the underlying core issue that caused the individual to turn to substance abuse in the first place.
Treatment programs that embrace a non 12-step approach may employ any one of the various non 12-step programs available, including, but not limited to:
The SMART Recovery model is science-based and emphasizes self-empowerment. The program offers a four-point program for success in recovery:
- Building and maintaining motivation
- Coping with urges
- Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors
Living a balanced life.
The SMART Recovery program teaches techniques that help participants achieve self-directed change. It encourages individuals to believe that they can recover from addiction, versus the AA belief that it is a lifelong disease. SMART is an effective program for people who believe they are in control of their lives, and take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
James Christopher founded Secular Organizations for Sobriety in the 1980s. He objected to AA’s spiritual platform, believing that there should be a distinction between religious or spiritual beliefs and handling a substance abuse problem. Its primary position is “sobriety priority,” maintaining that sobriety has to become one’s priority and you “cannot use, no matter what.”
Women for Sobriety (WFS)
Women for Sobriety was founded by Jean Kirkpatrick in the 1970s as a response to what she felt were differences between men and women and how they require different recovery approaches. The premise of WFS is that women begin using alcohol or drugs as a means of managing difficult emotional issues, and addiction may result. In contrast to AA’s focus on humility, WFS emphasizes self-empowerment and self-value. A central focus is on substituting negative thoughts with positive, self-affirming attitudes, and uses 13 affirmations in its program.
Get Help at a Non 12 Step Program
Whether you are searching for a suitable addiction treatment program for the first time or returning to treatment, finding the right fit can make all the difference in the outcome. A treatment program should focus on identifying and treating the core issue behind the substance abuse, and a non 12 step program—especially one with a 90-day treatment plan—is an excellent option for individuals serious about achieving long-term sobriety. Call to connect with a treatment center at (866) 644-7911 to take your first step toward the healthy life you deserve.