What Kind of 12 Step Alternatives Are There for Drug Treatment Programs?

For decades, twelve step programs have made up the bulk of substance abuse support groups and treatment plans. The programs are meant to promote social healing, communication, and the ability to make amends with people who have been hurt. But they aren’t right for everybody. Sometimes, people have a difficult time reconciling the religious aspect of the program. Other times, the setup just isn’t encouraging for them. The question for these people then becomes: What kind of 12 step alternatives are there for drug treatment programs?

Addiction is classified as a chronic disease with high relapse rates. In fact, experts estimate that between forty and sixty percent of addicts relapse after treatment. Studies suggest that it’s important to use support groups and outpatient treatment after the initial substance abuse treatment, as this can lower the chances of a relapse. Twelve step programs are the most common support groups for people struggling with addiction, but there are other forms of support that you can use.

Alternative Support Groups to 12 Step Programs

When you first enroll in inpatient treatment, you might find yourself surprised by the structure of each day. Many inpatient treatment centers will hold twelve step meetings, but they aren’t the main focus of your treatment. After you detox, you’ll be given a treatment plan that includes comprehensive mental health care to help with the underlying addiction factors. You might spend your days in individual therapy, group therapy, creative therapies, or outside getting fresh air. There are a huge number of drug treatment programs that have nothing to do with this method.

However, you might find yourself struggling when you’re first discharged from the rehabilitation center. The first few days after discharge are the most vulnerable. You’re going back to an environment that may not have been kind to you or good for your addiction. You might be facing people who are still struggling with their hurt and anger. Most commonly, relapses happen within this time period.

This is why rehab centers so strongly insist on a detailed outpatient treatment plan. They’ll often provide you with resources for your community regarding mental health emergency rooms, places where support group meetings are held, and different outpatient therapeutic services options. Staying in touch with your therapist is only one part of the discharge plan. You also need to make sure not to isolate yourself, and the best way to do that is with a support group. There are a few notable support group alternatives to twelve step programs.

SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) Recovery

SMART Recovery is a support group that aims to promote self-empowerment to treat addiction. The support group has meetings that can be found both online and in-person. Instead of being a decades-old form of support, SMART Recovery is a program based in the latest research about addiction recovery. The goal is to provide the tools an individual needs to change their mindset through their 4-Point Program:

  • Obtaining motivation and maintaining it
  • Learning to manage impulses, cravings, and other urges
  • Handling behaviors, thoughts, and emotions
  • Finding a harmonious balance in life

The group provides plans to help people work through the four points, including homework exercises and tools. A meeting generally lasts for about 1.5 hours and is mediated by a trained facilitator.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety

For people who have trouble with the religious aspect of other programs, this is an ideal secular alternative. Abbreviated S.O.S., this addiction recovery support network does not have any ties to outside organizations. Anyone is welcome to join the network, with the only requirement being that they must abstain or be trying to abstain from substance abuse.

In an S.O.S. support group, individuals receive encouragement to take responsibility for their own actions. They’re also taught valuable critical thinking skills. The approach to support is constantly evolving as new research about relapse prevention is published.

Most meetings begin with important announcements and sobriety anniversary celebrations. The majority of the time is focused on group interaction and discussion. Confidentiality, responsibility, and sobriety are the main overarching themes of the meetings. Members form peer support networks to hold each other accountable.

Moderation Management

Moderation Management is another support group. This one is unique in that it seems to blend elements of group therapy with traditional support group elements. The meetings are focused around working toward a goal. Participants are encouraged to set goals for themselves, whether those goals are to change their negative outlook or to change their negative environment.

The weekly in-person meetings foster discussions about how people are trying to reach their goals. They may also feature discussion about different negative thought processes, volatile emotions, and environmental factors that drive people to substance abuse. The meeting is a safe place to discuss and work through solutions to these potential problems. At the same time, people receive peer support to stay sober.

Choosing the Best Support Group for You

If you’re not sure which support group would be best, it doesn’t hurt to go to a few meetings and decide which program feels the most comfortable. You might even find yourself attending two different kinds of support groups.

What’s important is that you can still receive comprehensive peer support even if you aren’t comfortable with the twelve step approach. A secular support group is a great option if the religious and “higher power” aspects of the program bother you. If the concept of surrendering yourself feels like it would be harmful, you can look for support groups that focus instead on self-empowerment and personal drive.

The options for addiction recovery support are constantly evolving. The internet gives people access to more resources than ever before, while more and more studies are being published about relapse-preventing behaviors. If you think it’s time to take the next step toward addiction treatment, we have trained counselors available to help 24 hours a day. Give us a call at 877-978-3148