12 step programs and addiction recovery seem like they go hand in hand, to the point that you almost might think it’s required to be a part of one in order to successfully stay sober.
Developed and started by Alcoholics Anonymous well over half a century ago, the twelve steps have truly been revelatory for many and have indeed helped countless men and women, millions over the years, stick with their recovery.
That said, it’s not ideal for everyone and that’s fair enough. Not everyone likes the same flavor of ice cream, after all. Certain aspects might not click for each person in recovery, the religious and spiritual parts of it, for example, may turn people off. Another big factor that may strike people as negative, or that they object to, is that 12 step programs require an admittance that you’re powerless over addiction (it’s the first of the steps).
Again, that’s not to say AA isn’t a fine program for some.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to 12 step programs for those that are seeking them.
Whereas the 12 steps have a higher power at the core, SMART Recovery is rooted in science. An acronym, SMART stands for “Self-Management And Recovery Training” and, like AA or NA, is a global community of support groups.
Rather than 12 steps, SMART operates on a 4-point program:
- Building and Maintaining Motivation
- Coping with Urges
- Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
- Living a Balanced Life
They add, “our science-based approach emphasizes self-empowerment and self-reliance. There’s no lifetime commitment; you decide when the time is right to move on. You choose how to personalize your own plan for successful change”.
While Refuge Recovery is inspired and informed by Buddhist ideas, it’s a non-theistic program. Moreover, you don’t have to be well versed in Buddhism, or know it at all, to get the benefits of what they offer.
Refuge Recovery is rooted in the idea that “Buddhists commit to the path of awakening by taking refuge in three things: awakening (Buddha), truth (Dharma), and community (Sangha)”.
Additionally, it incorporates the Buddhist concepts of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.
Four Noble Truths
- Addiction creates suffering
- The cause of addiction is repetitive craving
- Recovery is possible
- The path to recovery is available
The recovery program includes meetings, meditation, mentorship, and retreats.
Non 12 Step Rehabs
Some rehabs are fully committed to the 12 step cause, and that’s OK. If the ideology and principles of the 12 step program don’t gel with thought, you don’t have to go to a rehab where that’s the cornerstone, quite frankly.
The point of rehab is to do what works best for you.
If you’re uncomfortable with any part of it, it stands to reason that you’ll be reluctant to commit wholeheartedly because of that inherent skepticism. Without total commitment, whatever program you choose won’t be nearly as effective. It can’t be.
Non 12 step rehabs, like their 12 step counterparts, start with detox and from there move into evidence-based approaches to treatment that are personalized to your particular needs.
These mainly focus on various types of psychotherapy or talk therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with the aim being to get to the root cause of why you started using substances in the first place. The emphasis is on empowering you to change your way of thinking and behavior rather than the notion that overcoming addiction is beyond your reach or control.
If you’re on the fence about 12 steps or non 12 step options, give us a call at Footprints of Serenity and we can talk you through them both in more depth.