Arguably the most common way to treat addiction is through 12-Step programs. While these programs are widespread, they are not the only option. In fact, many patients prefer an alternative to 12-Step programs for their own recovery. Explore some of the pros and cons of 12-Step programs, and get to know some alternate routes to lasting sobriety.
Understanding the 12-Step Program
The 12-Step program is a set of principles that guide the process of recovering from an addiction. These principles were first published in 1939, and they have helped millions of people to achieve sobriety. As the name suggests, the program involves following 12 distinct steps in chronological order.
There are definitely some advantages to the 12-Step program. To start, it focuses on personal responsibility, and it encourages participants to take control over their own health and future. The group dynamic helps people to feel less alone. Plus, the structure can be helpful to those who need direction.
However, the 12-Step program isn’t the only way to treat an addiction. In fact, many people don’t like the regimented approach. While a 12-Step program can be fantastic, it is not for everyone. For a variety of reasons, individuals may opt for a different approach for their personal recovery.
Addressing the Issue of Religion
One of the biggest issues people have with the 12-Step program is the religious/spiritual component. Originally, the 12-Step program was designed to be one with Christian ties. Recognizing a higher power and submitting to his or her control is a big part of the program. For those who don’t want to pursue a religious program, the 12-Step approach may not be ideal.
However, that doesn’t mean that spirituality can’t be a big part of recovery. Many individuals thrive in addiction treatment programs that include elements of spiritual recovery.
Spiritual psychology is very different from religion. There is no set course of action that participants need to take, and there is no one dogma or creed that has to be recognized. Instead, those who embrace spiritual psychology in recovery will be given the tools to help identify their issues and then resolve them. Spirituality, in this sense, just means looking beyond the physical for better health, fulfillment, and wellness.
The Need for Accountability and Support
An advantage of the 12-Step program is that it takes place in a group setting. This allows for support, mentoring, camaraderie and accountability. Fortunately, alternative programs can also offer group support.
During recovery from addiction, loneliness is a big issue. Often, individuals struggling with addiction feel misunderstood. Even their loved ones can have a hard time truly making sense of addiction and its impact.
In a group setting, participants know that they aren’t alone. Others sitting around them have experienced similar things, and everyone understands the struggle of addiction.
Group dynamics also allow for mentoring relationships. Those new to sobriety can ask questions and take advice from those with more experience.
While 12-Step programs are well known for their group settings, they don’t hold a monopoly. Lots of approaches to addiction recovery emphasize group support. The knowledge that other people are concerned with individual sobriety is a means of accountability that can be quite beneficial.
A Long-Term Approach is Critical
Most 12-Step programs aren’t designed to be a short-term thing. Participants learn that sobriety has to be ongoing, and regular meetings help maintain that sobriety. Other types of addiction recovery and treatment follow this principle, encouraging patients to see their recovery as a lifelong process.
It is dangerous to think of any kind of addiction treatment as a quick fix. Detoxes that last for a few days can be the first step to wellness, but they aren’t sufficient on their own. True recovery requires ongoing care.
Those who struggle with addiction should be prepared for ongoing support, treatment, and focus. There is no such thing as moderate consumption for someone dealing with addiction. A sip of alcohol or one dose of drugs can mean a devastating relapse and another battle with addiction.
12-Step Programs Aren’t Enough on Their Own
Although 12-Step programs are often very successful, they aren’t designed to be a stand-alone approach to recovery. They are meant to supplement other programs that are more intensive for patients.
Many 12-Step programs are just an hour or two in length. Participants can go to a meeting every day, or they could attend once a week. This can be suitable for those who are already well into their sober journey, but it is probably not intensive enough for a person fresh out of detox.
The journey to recovery starts with a medical detox. This allows patients to complete a supervised withdrawal. Then, patients can graduate to a rehab or addiction treatment program. These may be inpatient or they may be outpatient. Either way, they should include a variety of treatment methods on a daily basis.
Group meetings like the 12-Step approach should be extras tacked onto an already long list of recovery programs. Patients will benefit from one-on-one counseling with a trained therapist, mental health counseling, and education in relapse prevention. Family therapy or behavioral therapy might also be suitable to work towards lifelong sobriety and health.
A Comprehensive Approach to Recovery
One aspect of recovery that 12-Step programs don’t always cover is how addiction developed in the first place. With such an emphasis on personal responsibility, the triggers and causes can be skipped over. A more comprehensive approach takes all these factors into consideration to help prevent relapse.
Mental health is just one example that won’t get proper treatment with 12-Step programs alone. Issues like depression or PTSD have to be addressed in order for individuals to be healthy enough to embrace sobriety for a lifetime. Dealing with these issues head-on is a necessity. During addiction rehab programs, patients may have more opportunity to focus on their personal causes and issues.
There are many different ways to treat an addiction. If you’re not interested in a 12-Step program, consider some of the alternatives that can lead to lifelong recovery and sobriety.