For those who are looking to overcome a drug or alcohol addiction, there are several approaches to treatment out there to choose from. Perhaps the most well known of these treatment options is joining a 12 step program.
A 12 step group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can be an effective way to get sober and continue to live life free of drugs or alcohol by working the steps and taking advantage of the support offered by other members of the group.
For some people, a 12 step group isn't the right choice for recovery. In these cases it may be a better idea to explore some alternative treatment options.
Choices for treatment include inpatient (or rehab), outpatient, residential treatment, group and individual therapy, or support groups that don't use the 12 step model. These various types of treatment also allow you to experience recovery in a variety of settings, ranging from a serene rehab facility in the country to a busy community center in your neighborhood.
Different forms of treatment will also expose you to different treatment methods. Studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy, family and group therapy, and regular attendance at a support group have proven to be just just as effective as the 12 step model for many people.
It all just depends on your own unique case and what you respond to the best.
There has been a recent rise in alternative support groups that offer help to those struggling with alcohol and drug abuse, These groups don't have quite the same popularity as A.A. or N.A., but they offer a few key differences that make them attractive to many who are looking for the right kind of treatment. The following is a short overview of the way these groups differ from the 12 step approach:
- Not religious. Spirituality is at the core of any 12 step group, with prayer and frequent mention of God or a higher power part of every meeting. Other support groups differ by keeping the nature of their meetings strictly secular.
This allows people of all religious and non religious backgrounds to feel welcome.
- Focused on the individual. This is a big difference from a 12 step group, which has members start off by admitting their powerlessness over drugs or alcohol.
These alternative groups will instead focus on the power existing within each individual and how they can begin to tap into it for their own recovery. Empowering members is often the first introduction into an alternative support group.
- Openness and flexibility. Other support groups are more open to changing and adapting their approaches to recovery in order to best suit the needs of their members.
12 step groups have been using the same basic methods since they began almost 80 years ago. Recent scientific findings on addiction and recovery may play a role in the methods alternative groups use with their members.
- Looking ahead to the future, rather than the past. Another big difference between 12 step and alternative methods is the need to identify oneself as an addict or alcoholic for the rest of a lifetime.
12 step groups emphasize attendance at meetings for a lifetime in order to manage an addiction. Alternative groups provide tools to get and remain sober, after which an individual can move on with their life.
There is no need to hang on to old labels with these groups. Only lifelong growth, self awareness, and empowerment.