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Non 12 – Step

With the advent of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in the 1930s came the very first structured drug treatment approach for long-term recovery. Twelve Step support group programs quickly became the standard in terms of offering recovering alcoholics and addicts a daily path for drug-free living. Since then, several offshoots of the original AA model have taken shape over the years, some of which include –

  • Overeaters Anonymous
  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Sexaholics Anonymous
  • Smokers Anonymous

While 12 Step programs do offer certain benefits, some people may be put off by a few of the more rigid requirements that structure these programs. Non 12 Step programs offer new approaches for helping those in recovery maintain abstinence from day-to-day.

Also known as self-help or mutual-aid groups, non 12 Step programs take various forms in terms of the types and supports and guidance offered by any one program. Ultimately, the different models available make it possible for a person to find the type of approach that best suits his or her treatment needs.

12 Step Programs

addiction recovery

There are alternatives to the 12-step recovery program that help many people greatly improve their lives.

First developed in 1938, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous compiled a list of 12 Steps, which formed the structure for the 12 Step program approach, according to the U. S National Library of Medicine. The principles underlying this structure are based on a religious or spiritual philosophy.

The 12 Step model was designed to help those in recovery –

  • Work through their emotional conflicts in constructive ways
  • Identify cues and triggers that set off drug-using behaviors
  • Learn to reach out for help from the group when the urge to use becomes unbearable

In effect, the support group acts as a treatment environment where a person can work through the issues that drive addiction behaviors. After so many weeks or months of “working” the program, each new member is encouraged to find a sponsor or mentor to support and guide them on a one-on-one basis.

While 12-Step groups do offer certain benefits, some people may prefer to take more control over their recovery rather than having to adhere to working a 12 Step format. Likewise, the religious principles that make up a big part of the 12 Step program approach, may not suit everyone’s spiritual preference.

Location and scheduling problems may also make it difficult for a person to attend 12 Step meetings on a regular basis. For these reasons, many people have opted to consider non 12 Step programs as an alternative.

Non 12 Step Program Options

SMART Recovery

As one of the more popular non 12 step program options, SMART Recovery takes a more self-empowering approach to addiction recovery compared to the traditional 12 Step program. Made up of a worldwide membership community, SMART Recovery programs base their approach on scientific research, offering tools and techniques within mutual self-help group settings, both in-person and Online.

SMART Recovery operates off a four-point program designed to accomplish the following objectives –

  • Staying motivated for wellness
  • Learning to cope with drug-using urges
  • Becoming aware of one’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors
  • Creating and living a balanced life

LifeRing Secular Recovery

LifeRing Secular Recovery emphasizes the importance of positive, practical everyday living as the antidote for an addiction lifestyle. Also based on the support group model, members share practical experiences for overcoming the pull of addiction in their lives.

The principles underlying LifeRing Secular Recovery center around the concepts of the Sober Self and the Addict Self. Each “Self” follows its own set of values, thoughts, decisions and behaviors. LifeRing works to strengthen the Sober Self’s presence in a person’s life, while eliminating the supports that nurture the Addict Self.

Ultimately, LifeRing places a high importance on each person’s self-knowledge in terms of knowing what areas of his or her life promote health and well-being and which areas promote negativity, anger and confusion. Each member designs his or her own program while utilizing the supports and guidance available through the group. Group meetings take place in-person or Online.

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety exists as the first national self-help program for women in recovery. “Image precedes action” is the philosophy behind Women for Sobriety. The overall objective behind this approach works to undoing the faulty thinking patterns that feed addiction behaviors and develop a healthy mindset towards self and others.

Women for Sobriety has developed what’s known as the “New Life” Program that’s designed to promote a person’s ongoing recovery efforts. At the heart of the New Life program lies Thirteen Acceptance Statements, which provides daily directives for healthy thinking and decision-making. This non 12 Step program emphasizes the importance of self-knowledge in terms of being aware of the thought processes that ultimately determine a person’s quality of living form day-to-day.

Recovery Coaches and Counselors

Recovery coaches and counselors work well for people who find group environments overwhelming or intrusive. People who have privacy concerns may also favor this treatment approach. Counselors fulfill the same roles as outpatient program therapists, helping those in recovery work through the underlying emotional issues that feed addiction.

Recovery coaches typically work out of peer recovery programs and provide support and guidance much like a sponsor does. Within this type of one-on-one relationship, a person can reach out whenever he or she needs to talk as opposed to sharing difficult experiences with a group.

Counselors will likely charge a fee, though some may work within volunteer organizations and offer their services at no charge. Both counselors and recovery coaches may also be found through local community centers and churches. While some may offer their services at no cost, others may still charge a discounted fee.

Moderation Management

The Moderation Management program approach centers around the process of behavioral change as a means for overcoming addiction’s effects in a person’s life. Moderation Management encourages participants to choose and follow through on their own path in terms of maintaining abstinence or using in moderation.

Moderation Management principles rely on evidence-based data, not unlike many mainstream rehabilitation treatment approaches. According to the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, this programs reliance on evidenced based principles has earned it an official entry on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) “Rethinking Drinking” website.

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