Non-12-Step Programs

In addiction recovery circles, 12-step support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous are almost ubiquitous. As a result, almost everyone knows a little bit about how these programs work and what they are designed to do, and sometimes, this tiny bit of knowledge could be enough to keep some people out of the treatment programs they need in order to heal. Some people, in particular, are resistant to the idea of appealing to a so-called “higher power” in order to recover from an addiction, and they may resist entering rehab programs because they believe all of these programs will force some sort of religious conversion. Mentioning alternate 12-step programs in an addiction intervention could be the motivating factor that pushes people to accept treatment, when they may have resisted it in the past.

Major Differences

As mentioned, non-12-step programs tend to avoid issues of higher powers and religious figures. Instead, these programs tend to encourage people to tap into their own hidden reserves of strength in order to overcome an addiction. The emphasis is on power, rather than submission, and it can be deeply transformative for some people.

Additionally, some non-12-step programs utilize a dialogue format that’s somewhat different from the approach used in Alcoholics Anonymous. In an article in the Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, SMART Recovery experts suggest that their meetings contain a significant amount of dialogue and conversation in which people really question one another and dig down for profound truths. Instead of listening to a series of speakers, people in this model are encouraged to talk, share, question and give feedback. For those who dislike lecture formats, this could be a good option.

Finding Help

Once a family decides that a non-12-step approach is right for the person they love, the debate moves to accessibility. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 77 percent of all addiction treatment facilities use 12-step approaches at least some of the time. These numbers seem to suggest that this approach is definitely preferred by the majority of facilities, and those families who want a different path might need to do a little digging.

Some facilities are quite open about their non-12-step affiliation, and they may use these kinds of words on their websites and in their promotional documents:

  • SMART Recovery center
  • LifeRing affiliated
  • Secular recovery center
  • Non-12-step rehab
  • Rational Recovery center
  • Member of Secular Organizations for Sobriety

Families can use these search terms in their Internet explorations of recovery centers and they may be able to find the right kind of treatment to help the person they love. Interventionists may also be able to help. Many interventionists work hard to research available addiction treatment centers, and some even make a point to visit centers so they’ll know exactly what kind of care is offered in the facilities they suggest to their clients. An interventionist like this may be able to direct the family to just the right treatment provider, and some will even accompany a person to the treatment center when the intervention is over.

Finding a knowledgeable interventionist isn’t always easy, but we can help. We maintain an extensive database of professionals who stand at the ready to help clients heal. Please call us to start your search.

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