There are alternatives to 12-step programs, but finding one with a similar success rate is the challenge. Let’s examine some addiction treatment 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.
Alternatives to 12-Step Programs
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 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
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.
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.
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 is 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 from giving in to 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.
Deciding on a 12-Step Alternative for You
If you are looking into alternatives for the 12-step program and you aren’t sure what is right or best for you, the more research you do the better. Looking into all of these options, and more, will ensure that you make the best decision possible. If you don’t even know where to start, it may be best to seek out the help of a treatment center. A place like The District Recovery Community will not only help you make the best decision for your situation but can also help set you up with an aftercare program and alumni community to help ensure you stay on the straight and narrow long term.
Getting Help at The District
If you or your loved one needs help with a drug or alcohol addiction, The District Recovery Community is here to help you. At the District, we partner with drug rehabs in Orange County to help clients get the treatment they need. In addition to these treatment facilities, The District Recovery Community specializes in sober living homes that can provide your loved one with a safe place to call home while they go through their treatment process.
Clients will also have access to our vast alumni network. This community allows clients to connect with others who are in recovery and have people to turn to and lean on in times of need.
Overall, The District Recovery Community is a treatment program that is dedicated to helping all of our clients conquer their substance abuse or mental health disorder and achieve long-term sobriety.