12-Step Rehab vs. Alternative Models: What Works and Why?

by baladmin | May 18, 2013

To 12-Step or not to 12-Step? That is the question.

When you are ready to stop using drugs and alcohol, 12-Step Rehab vs. Alternative Models, what works? and why?

Let’s discuss.

12-Step Programs offer many benefits:

Instant group of peers going through the same thing you are going through.

A clear outline, and basically a plan for your growth as you start a new life of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Laid out purpose and focus on one thing: getting clean and sober, and staying that way.

All meetings and steps are about self-help and self-care.

Sponsorship adds to your accountability to stay substance-free.

The steps walk you through a way to honestly assess yourself, and your behaviors in the past.

The 12-Step community lets you know that you are not alone, and that there are lots of ways to approach a life of recovery.

Sharing your story, and listening to other addict’s stories, gives you ongoing opportunity to relate, and to hear perspectives very different from your own, from people who are also working to stay clean and sober each day

The anonymous nature of 12-Step programs and meetings provides privacy and safety while sharing and connecting.

Family programs, like Al-Anon, assist the loved ones of addicts in understanding addiction and how to best help the addict.

When a treatment facility integrates the 12-Step Model into their program, clients experience the benefits while in a structured, focused rehab center.

So what about the alternative models available to stop a life of drug and alcohol addiction? Can addiction treatment be effective without the inclusion of the tried-and-true 12 Steps?

A program called SMART Recovery, Self-Management and Recovery Training, is one of the most well-known, non-12-Step based alternative models to rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol. SMART incorporates a 4-point system:

  1. Building and Maintaining Motivation
  2. Coping with Urges
  3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
  4. Living a Balanced Life.

During each step, the program offers tools and techniques that are meant to do the following:

Teaches self-empowerment and self-reliance.

Provides meetings that are educational, supportive and include open discussions.

Encourages individuals to recover from addiction and alcohol abuse and live satisfying lives.

Teaches techniques for self-directed change.

Supports the scientifically informed use of psychological treatment and legally-prescribed psychiatric and addiction medication.

Works on substance abuse, alcohol abuse, addiction and drug abuse as complex maladaptive behaviors with possible physiological factors.

Question though: can an addict in recovery be responsible for doing all of the work alone?

The abundance of addicts who participate in Alcoholics Anonymous and a form of Narcotics Anonymous (like Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, etc.) provide an irreplaceable community of peers who are established during formal treatment, and who are still accessible after rehab, and during every phase in a life of recovery.