Five Alternatives To 12 Step Programs

For several decades, drug and alcohol treatment facilities have developed and used treatment programming that has been based on the 12 Steps. These programs have been the proverbial gold standard in many rehabs and have provided countless number of addicts and alcoholics the structure and support they need in order to achieve and maintain long-term recovery.  These programs are very effective for many individuals, but some do not find them helpful or find their philosophies sufficient in helping them overcome their addictions.

What to do if a 12 Step Program Isn’t Working For You

Recovery from substance abuse isn’t a one size fits all proposition. Every addict or alcoholic has their own unique and specific needs and goal in recovery. What this means is that while the 12 Steps may be effective for some, others may need alternatives to 12 Steps.

This is not an uncommon occurrence as some people may be in a situation where they have tried several different 12-Step based addiction recovery programs and found that none have been helpful to their recovery. When this occurs they may start to feel that they will never experience lasting recovery, but there may be alternatives to 12 Steps based recovery programs that will spark the breakthrough they are seeking.

In the past two decades, there has been an increase in the number of alternatives to 12 Steps recovery programs, which embrace different philosophies that may be helpful in breaking the cycle of addiction once and for all. These alternatives to 12 Steps programs go against the grain of Twelve Step programs, and some may cause some controversy among those who are more traditionally minded. Nevertheless, these programs may be able to finally provide you with what you need in order to get and stay sober.

The following are some of the most popular alternatives to 12 Steps programs.

Alternatives to 12 Steps Programs

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a non-profit, nationwide organization, which offers free support groups to those addicts who are looking to break free from their addiction to alcohol or any other addictive behavior. Formed in 1994, the SMART Recovery program provides addicts with tools to maintain recovery that is based on scientific research. The SMART program operates on four basic principles, which are the following:

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

Harm Reduction

Since the mid-1990’s, there have been a number of groups such as Moderation Management and Rational Recovery that utilize harm reduction philosophies in addressing addiction. Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies that are intended to minimize the negative consequences of high-risk behaviors that are associated with substance abuse. This approach is non-judgmental in nature and attempts to meet addicts where they are at in regards to their substance use.

Through open discussion and debate, Addicts are able to discuss risks that are associated with substance abuse, what causes those risks and what they can do to reduce or eliminate them. For those in the traditional recovery community, the harm reduction philosophy is highly controversial. This is due to the fact that while total abstinence from substances is desirable, groups that are harm reduction-based are supportive of those who wish to lessen the harm of high-risk behavior through moderating their drug or alcohol use.


The Life Process Program

This approach to addiction recovery was created by Dr. Stanton Peele and was developed as an alternative to groups such as AA or NA. The Life Process Program operates on the premise that people are not powerless in regards to their addiction and don’t need the help of sober support groups. There are four basic tenets on which the program operates:

  • Values and purpose
  • Motivation
  • Life skills and rewards
  • The building and mending of community and relationships

This program was originally used in luxury drug treatment programs and is now made available exclusively as a comprehensive online course. Addicts receive both online and telephone support and can learn how to build positive self-worth, self-esteem, values, and purpose in life. Additionally, addicts are also taught important relapse prevention skills that are needed to effectively function on a day-to-day basis.

Rational Recovery

Another unique alternative to 12-Step recovery programs is Rational Recovery. Rational Recovery is an organization, which provides addicts struggling with all forms of substance abuse, a source of counseling, guidance, and instruction for the purpose of permanent abstinence. This organization utilizes an approach called Addiction Voice Recognition Technique.

This technique focuses on the fact that each of us has an addictive voice that can push us to use drugs and alcohol. Through AVRT, people can learn to recognize that they don’t have to do what this addictive voice wants them to do and they can strengthen their ability to not use.

Instead of recognizing alcoholism or addiction as a disease, Rational Recovery views addiction as a voluntary behavior. Through Rational Recovery, addicts learn to gain self-efficacy, which is defined as the ability of an individual to exert control over their own motivation, behavior, and social environment.

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety is the first addiction and recovery support group founded just for women. Established in 1976, the group has over 300 chapters nationwide. The program is similar to Twelve Step-based groups in the fact that its core philosophy, called the Thirteen Acceptance Statements, addresses powerlessness in addiction and the development of emotional and spiritual growth. Groups are small by design with 6 to 10 women in each group and online meetings and forums are also available.

Seeking Treatment For Alcoholism or Addiction

If you find that you cannot stop using drugs or alcohol even though you would like to, then you may be suffering from an addiction. Addiction is an actual, recognizable disease and as such, you’re inability to stop on your own should not be a cause for shame or guilt. There are millions of people every year who need to seek help for addiction and alcoholism, and many have made it through their struggles to a life of recovery. So if you think you need help, then call the professionals at Dream Center for Recovery today at 1-877-978-3148. Our trained staff is standing by to take your call, to help you in any way they can.