Alcohol Treatment Programs: Different Paths to the Same Goal
Nearly everyone in recovery is familiar with the 12-step program concept. Alcoholics Anonymous was the first such program, beginning in 1935. Since then, many other alcohol treatment programs have followed in its footsteps.
While 12-step fellowships have helped millions of people recover, they are not the right fit for everyone. Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) himself said, “In no circumstances should members feel that Alcoholics Anonymous is the know-all and do-all of alcoholism.”
The reasons why someone might not like the 12-step approach vary. Some hold a belief system other than Christianity and do not feel comfortable with AA’s Christian roots. Others may prefer not to continue to identify themselves as an alcoholic for life, even with many years of successful recovery. Some people contend that a more targeted approach, such as behavioral therapy or medication, is simply more effective. Obviously, there are many opinions on the subject.
Is the 12-Step Program Right For Everyone?
While there are certainly benefits to following a 12-step program, many people are able to recover successfully from addiction without it. Ultimately, choosing the right recovery program is a highly personal decision that should be made with the guidance of a trained professional.
Non-12-step alcohol rehab may well be a better fit for certain people. Whatever the reasons may be, it is helpful to be informed about the options. So, what are the alternatives to AA’s 12-step program?
There are many other addiction recovery programs available, and people may choose one that’s not based on the 12 steps. A key example would be SMART Recovery, which uses science-based methods such as mindfulness and motivational interviewing to help people recover from addiction. Other programs focus on behavioral changes only, or combine a spiritual approach with scientific techniques.
Let’s take a look at three of the major alternative options:
The SMART Recovery program focuses on self-empowerment and scientifically validated methods to promote lifestyle changes. Addictive behaviors like alcoholism are viewed as coping mechanisms that cause problems. The program concentrates on teaching new, healthy coping skills and does offer group meetings. The SMART Recovery approach is built around their 4-Point Program®.
The four points are:
- Building and maintaining the motivation for change.
- Coping with urges to use.
- Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors in an effective way without addictive behaviors.
- Living a balanced, positive and healthy life.
Refuge Recovery is a program based upon Buddhist principles. In Buddhism, desire is seen as the root of suffering. As alcoholism is an example of suffering caused by desire, Buddhist concepts are compatible with a recovery lifestyle.
Refuge Recovery embraces a nontheistic approach to spirituality. It does not ask anyone to believe in anything, just to trust the process. Refuge Recovery has online and in-person meetings. The Refuge Recovery philosophy is framed by what they call The Four Truths.
The Four Truths of Refuge Recovery are:
- Addiction creates suffering.
- The cause of addiction is repetitive craving.
- Recovery is possible.
- The path to recovery is available.
Moderation Management deviates from the other non-12-step programs in one fundamental way. It focuses on moderating drinking rather than abstaining from it completely. They have in-person meetings as well as phone and online meetings.
The Moderation Management program is outlined by what they call The MM Step-by-Step Approach. It suggests beginning with a period of abstinence of 30 days or more. During that time, participants learn skills for avoiding drinking, identifying triggers and alternatives to alcohol and moderating consumption when choosing to drink. As this approach does not require abstinence, it is less commonly found in alcohol treatment programs.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment Programs are the Answer
Choosing the right path to recovery from alcoholism is a personal decision. What worked for a friend may not be what’s just right for you. It’s a good idea to explore your alcohol rehab options to gain a broader view of what is available.
There are various kinds of alcohol addiction treatment programs available today, including inpatient rehab centers, outpatient clinics, and holistic programs. Each program offers different benefits and has its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to research your options so that you can find the program that best meets your needs. Maybe that includes a 12-step program and maybe it doesn’t.
Research has shown that 12-step alternatives can be as beneficial as the 12-step approach. Whether you choose a 12-step oriented alcohol treatment program or a non-12-step alcohol rehab, what matters most is that you choose to get help.
At Washburn House, we believe in meeting people where they are in their journey towards sobriety. If you or your loved one is looking for support, call us today at 855.298.3104 to find out more about our alcohol treatment programs.