Can You Beat Drug or Alcohol Addiction Without Using a 12-Step Program?
Twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been successfully helping people to get sober and stay sober for many years, but there are aspects of 12-step programs that don’t work for everyone. If you find that 12-step programs are not helpful for you, you may wonder if that means you’re not going to be able to beat drug or alcohol addiction.
The underlying concept of NA and AA is that they are support groups in which participants help each other by sharing their struggles and their suggestions for facing the challenges of living life sober without relying on mind-altering chemicals.
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But some people find that it’s not a good fit for them for different reasons. One of the most common reasons is feeling uncomfortable with religious or spiritual overtones, such as relying on a Higher Power and praying at meetings.
There are alternative groups that can help you overcome isolation and the challenges associated with addictive behavior that don’t require following the 12 steps or taking a spiritual approach to recovery. If you are looking for an evidence-based or scientific approach to recovery, there are several other groups that might be a better fit for you.
Self-Management and Recovery Training, better known as SMART Recovery, is a support group for addiction recovery that offers strategies, tools and techniques based on self-reliance and self-empowerment. Unlike NA and AA, there is no spiritual angle to SMART recovery.
Another difference between SMART Recovery and NA is that SMART Recovery doesn’t base its philosophy on the idea of addiction as a disease. Those who have a hard time with thinking of themselves as “sick” or “diseased” may prefer using the tools taught in SMART Recovery as a method of beating drug addiction.
Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS)
Those who are more comfortable with a secular approach to addiction recovery may find the philosophy of SOS to be more helpful to them than 12-step programs. SOS has been helping people recover from addictive behavior toward drugs, alcohol and food for over 30 years.
Addictive behavior thrives when people isolate. To counter this, SOS is a non-professional support group that helps people have control over the choices they make regarding substance use. It’s an option for addiction recovery that may work for you if you have a hard time with the spiritual approach often associated with 12-step programs.
Women for Sobriety (WFS)
For women who may be uncomfortable with the message of powerlessness found in 12-step programs, WFS is an organization that helps empower women to nurture feelings of self-worth and to take personal responsibility for their recovery from substance use.
Many women who have problems with substance use have been victims of trauma and need an approach that lifts them up and encourages self-value. WFS is an abstinence-based self-help program that acknowledges the special needs women have in recovery
Other Choices for Beating Drug Addiction and Alcoholism
If you have a problem with drug addiction or alcohol abuse and don’t feel comfortable with 12-step programs, don’t give up on being able to beat your addiction. Although 12-step programs have a history of much success in helping drug addicts and alcoholics recover from substance use disorder, they aren’t the only options for beating addiction.
Besides the options described above, there are other organizations that offer paths to recovery. Some of these include:
- Rational Recovery offers practical skills for thought training and a self-directed approach, rather than meetings or support groups.
- Celebrate Recovery, based on the Christian faith and a biblical approach, is a program that objects to the freedom to choose a higher power of your understanding found in 12-step recovery, and may be more comfortable for you if Christianity is an important part of who you are.
- Refuge Recovery uses mindfulness and Buddhist principles as the core part of recovery.
What’s most important is making the decision to get help and finding a path to recovery and a support network that works for you. Recovery is possible, with or without the 12 steps.
Since 2004, Lori has worked with the behavioral health treatment community to bring awareness about mental health disorders and evidence-based treatments. Lori strives to help people better understand mental illness and provide support to those needing help and their families. As a mental health advocate, Lori works to be a voice for those suffering from substance abuse, dual diagnosis, borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other disorder.