Are there alternatives to the 12-step program?
Of course there are alternatives to the 12-step program, but finding one with a similar success rate is the challenge. Let’s examine some options. First, let’s talk about the growing problem of addiction: The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that more than 20 million American adults (aged 12 and older) struggle with a substance use disorder related to drug or alcohol abuse. As we all know, addiction is a chronic disease. The high relapse rate of around 40-60 percent is scary, but the numbers come straight from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Aftercare services (such as sober living homes) and support groups can help to promote sustained abstinence, and these have been proven to decrease relapse rates. According to studies published in Psychology Today, individuals who remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol for five years relapse less than 15 percent of the time. Peer support and 12-Step programs can prove critical to that sustained abstinence.
AA and Standard 12-Step Approaches
One of the most well-known 12-Step programs is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA is basically a support group for individuals in recovery from alcoholism. AA helps individuals to connect with others who also struggle with addiction to form a network of peers working toward the same goal: sustained sobriety in recovery. Individuals are able to work together to achieve this common goal and support each other through potential stresses and challenges, therefore helping to reduce episodes of relapse. It can be highly beneficial to have someone to lean on who has already been through there, who can offer insight, hope, and strength. AA is based on the 12-Step doctrine that asks members to admit their lack of control over alcohol. In order to recover, individuals are asked to turn themselves over to a higher power and find a spiritual awakening. While this concept may be very helpful for many people, for others, the spiritual aspect of AA may not ideal. Even though AA is not based on a specific religion, the 12-Step model does have religious, or at least spiritual, undertones. Several alternatives to AA exist that are more secular in nature. These alternatives to the 12-Step program (which has been the traditional approach to recovery) generally ask individuals to find motivation within themselves and to learn internal control instead of seeking an external source of power. Alternatives to the 12-Step program also tend to evolve with new research, and they may be more flexible in their approaches than AA and other 12-Step groups. Alternative groups still rely on peer support and provide tools for minimizing relapse. Most of these programs are free to join, with the only requirement being that individuals struggling with addiction wish to achieve and maintain abstinence. Some common alternatives to the 12-Step programs include:
- Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Recovery
- Women for Sobriety
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (S.O.S.)
- Moderation Management
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Women for Sobriety
With self-help groups all over the world, Women for Sobriety (WFS) provides recovery education tailoring to the unique physical and emotional needs of women. With a primary focus on alcoholism, WFS’ New Life Program is based on 13 acceptance statements that begin with addicts admitting that their addiction is a life-threatening health issue. By the end of the recovery program, recovering addicts are taking responsibility for their actions and are given a new sense of independence, allowing them to take control of their lives.
Alternatives Addiction Treatment
With their main office based in Beverly Hills, Alternatives Addiction Treatment mentions a word that is rarely, if ever, used in recovery: moderation. Co-founders Dr. Marc Kern and Dr. Adi Jaffe offer a recovery plan that is tailored to the individual. They firmly believe that no single option is the answer to everyone and their addiction-related issues.
The most recognizable alternative to AA and 12-steps, SMART Recovery’s motto is, “discover the power of choice.” This recovery program is based on a 4-point program that has been used to address substance abuse, and emotional and psychological addictions. While the effectiveness of 12-step programs have been difficult to prove, a number of publications have indirectly supported the effectiveness of the SMART Recovery program. There are also daily online meetings, a 24-hour chat room and online support groups. [cta id=’269′]
Secular Organizations for Sobriety
In 1985, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) was founded by Jim Christopher, a former alcoholic. SOS, an international non-profit network, provides recovery programs for alcohol abuse, drug abuse and compulsive eating. Through empowering tools and local support groups, SOS gives credit to the individual for achieving and maintaining their sobriety. There’s little independent research available on this approach, so it’s difficult to speak about its effectiveness.
One-On-One Sobriety Coach
Arguably the most expensive option on this list, private sobriety coaches are more commonly known in the celebrity world. However, these specialized coaches are steadily growing in popularity; they’re utilized across the country in a number of recovery scenarios. Support during recovery is a crucial component. Particularly if the recovering addict is single, or lives in another state or country than their immediate family, hiring a private sobriety coach is an investment. From 24-hour access and care, to accompanying a recovering addict on an errand, sobriety coaches are available on a weekly, daily or even on a live-in basis. Through this intimate form of recovery program, sobriety coaches teach new routines and practices to prevent their clients giving into temptations found in everyday social situations. Designed for the rich (because no insurance plan covers this), it’s fast becoming a trend in the world of the rich and famous.
Speaking candidly, there are always entities that would seek to capitalize on human vulnerabilities. People suffering from addiction tend to be desperate for a quick-fix solution. You’ll see wild claims from expensive facilities that offer little in the way of independent research or validation of their methodologies. Since the 12-step program has been around for decades, it has been studied extensively by a wide range of doctors and institutions. The results have been encouraging and this is a big part of the reason that most rehab and sober living homes base their recovery programs on the 12-step program. For some who are not religious, the 12-step program might at first seem unattractive due to its spiritual undertones. For others, the spirituality takes on another meaning. To them, the reliance upon a “greater power” might refer to the unrealized potential that lies within their own minds. The resistance to the religious or spiritual undertones is one of the biggest reasons people search for alternatives to the 12-step program. Whatever the justification, addicts seeking recovery should do their research. They should also take time to call each facility they’re considering and talk to a case manager. The key here is to dig deep into the success rates of the organization you’re considering. If they’re vague about their success rates or don’t have any quantifiable data, keep looking. While there are alternatives to the 12-step program, it’s hard to argue the success of it. [contact-form-7 id=”27″ title=”Contact form 1″]