For many people, when they think about addiction rehabilitation they think about the most traditional method – the 12 step program. Whilst there are many success stories within this particular model, there are those who have struggled with the 12 step method and have sadly relapsed as a result. There are also addicts who have done their research and do not like the idea of this traditional method.
So is There an Alternative to the 12 Step Treatment?
In short – yes. Non 12 step rehabilitation is becoming increasingly more popular as people begin to recognize that their needs differ from others.
So What’s the Difference?
The key difference, fundamentally, is the different philosophies of the two programs. 12 step rehab comes from the viewpoint that at the very center of the problem is the addiction itself. Get rid of the dependency on the gambling, the drugs or the alcohol and an addict is able to recover.
In contrast to this, a non 12 step method recognizes the significance of the addict’s dependency on a substance but also identifies that there is an underlying issue that is the cause of the addiction. Because there is less focus on the addiction and more focus on the cause, methods of treatment differ within non 12 step rehab.
Here’s an example. Imagine your computer has frozen. You can’t even move the cursor to restart. Your only solution is to hold the power button until the computer shuts down and you can then restart. 9 times out of 10 this will solve your freezing problem, but, in reality, the underlying issue is with your hardware that is struggling to function at 100%. For a long-term solution, you need to find the problem within the inside of your computer to prevent the freezing from ever happening again. It is much the same with non 12 step rehab. Finding the cause of the addiction supersedes addressing the addiction itself in the first instance.
Higher Power vs Empowering
In the first two steps of the traditional program, addicts are asked to recognize that they are powerless over their addiction and that they need to rely on a ‘higher power’ to aid in their recovery. By doing this, some believe that the 12 step program allows addicts to disregard personal responsibility for their addiction. If personal responsibility is removed, then surely a ‘higher power’ can just as easily be blamed for relapses in the addiction.
Conversely, a non 12 step program considers empowerment the only way to tackle addiction. Addicts are responsible and the only ones capable of making a change are themselves. The program encourages addicts to find drivers and motivations that will prevent them from relapsing. Having that personal responsibility gives them a greater motivation to remain clean.
The 12 step plan has a very rigid set of rules that all addicts are expected to follow. There is no differentiation regardless of the substance being abused and the addict themselves. Of course, some addicts do suffer setbacks and this adds to their anxiety as they now feel that they have somehow failed as result of not putting in the necessary effort. The 12 step program is a ‘one size fits all’ program, and whilst it is successful for some, it leaves others feeling a little hopeless.
Alternatively, the non 12 step program practices a method that differentiates its treatment plans for the individual allowing for flexibility. Non 12 step rehab is there to meet the needs of the addict not the other way round. This could mean that recovery might take a bit longer, but when one method does not work you adapt the plan and try a different approach; whilst all the while reminding the addict that they have not failed but simply need to head in a different direction.
Life Long Disease or Curable Illness?
Supporters of the 12 step program view addiction as a lifelong disease. A battle that needs to be waged against urges every day of your life. To do so you need to continue attending support meetings regularly otherwise you will in all likelihood relapse into addiction again. On the other hand, a non 12 step method recognizes the problem of addiction but views that all problems, with time, have a solution. Time scales vary but with the right treatment addicts can eventually walk away from treatment feeling that they will not relapse.
As stated earlier, both methods have degrees of success but it is clear that more and more people are turning to an alternative to 12 step treatment because of the personal and flexible treatments non 12 step programs have to offer. So, if you think this is the best method for you or for someone you love, make sure that you consider this alternative and contact clinics that offer this type of program.