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One of the first considerations when seeking addiction recovery support is choosing between the traditional 12 step approach and a more modern alternative. It is important to bear in mind that 12 step is not an addiction treatment program but a component of recovery support. One component of treatment that generally requires medical supervision is detox, which should be completed in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center.

12-Step Treatment Programs: An Overview of Differences

The reason many people consider 12 step recovery to be a traditional approach is because it is well established, having been first devised in 1935. In the decades following its foundation, 12 step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have proven themselves to be highly effective in helping people achieve long-term sobriety.

In fact, 12 step recovery support is a common component in most types of addiction rehab particularly as a form of aftercare or outpatient alcohol treatment. Clients in alcohol rehabilitation centers sometimes have the opportunity of working through the first 3 steps while in non-12 step rehab, with the remainder of the steps being completed in recovery.

Although there are distinct differences between traditional and non 12 step rehab, all these recovery paths share the goal of achieving long-term sobriety. With substance abuse a rising problem in the US it is fortunate that there are now thousands of rehab centers offering different approaches to meet this increasing need.

Many people are cautious of the 12 step program on the basis that they imagine members are “guilted” into remaining sober. This is not true although it can be said that the traditional approach is more direct, pushing people into a disciplined recovery. There is an undertone of laying down the law and issuing ultimatums that don’t exist in non-12 step alcohol rehabilitation centers.

The principles of 12-step are such that it is a much more forceful approach to recovering from substance abuse. There are several conditions to continued attendance of which the most important is to remain sober which is something that is shared with non-12 step rehab. Although 12 step does have a very strict recovery model with the same level of expectation for every single member, it has a lot of merit for those who are aligned with its religious foundations.

Non-12-Step Rehab Programs: An Overview of Differences

Non-12 step differs fundamentally from the traditional approach to addiction treatment in that it views substance abuse as a mental health condition. Whereas 12 step members are required to submit themselves to a higher power in view of their failure to help themselves, the alternative approach does not.

Non-12 step treatment programs are more fluid and generally personalized for the needs of the individual. Whereas there are 12 steps to work through to the letter and in the exact same order in the traditional approach, the alternative caters much more for each individual in rehab.

This is not to say that support groups such as faith-based 12 step are not considered by non 12 step centers to be effective. Quite the opposite is true in fact which is why many non 12 step recovery programs provide clients with access to local AA and NA groups once they’ve completed treatment at the center.

Because of the more flexible approach of non 12 step treatment, there are several types of therapies available to treat addiction. At Elevate, we have a strong holistic focus which provides overall healing of physical, mental and emotional health. One of the holistic therapies we offer is meditation which is a mindfulness practice that is essentially a form of non-religious prayer. Because many of the therapies offered in non-12 step centers overlap with the traditional approach, it provides effective healing for people with or without religious beliefs.

Because non 12 step offers personalized programs, they often work more effectively to achieve the recovery goals clients have set themselves. Addiction is an intensely personal issue that requires sensitive treatment that clients are fully on board with. The best form of motivation to achieve personal goals can only come from the individual themselves which is why it is important for clients to be aligned with the principles of the type of help they’re receiving.

In many respects, a good option for people who are undecided between the two approaches is to combine the two. Ultimately, the detox and rehab phase of a standard rehab program is better- addressed by a non 12 step recovery program in terms of the treatment needs of the individual. Despite that, traditional 12 step as a form of aftercare or outpatient alcohol treatment for those who feel it resonates with them is highly recommended.

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