How is the non-12-step program different?
Traditional 12-step programs see the dependence upon drugs or alcohol as the primary issue in an addict’s life. All other problems, according to this viewpoint, are products of the addiction. And once the addiction has been successfully addressed, then the patient should begin recovering.
However, non-traditional approaches view recovery in a much different light. The role that dependence plays in the disorder is recognized, but not necessarily seen as the crux of the matter. They argue that there are also underlying problems that drive addictive behavior, which also must be addressed. At a basic level, this is a completely different interpretation of what the term “treatment” means.
Non-12-step programs also view the motivating factors for recovery in a different way. In the traditional 12-step approach, the concept of submission to a higher power is a centerpiece, and it is stately flatly that recovery is not possible until this happens.
However, many feel this too greatly diminishes personal responsibility on the part of the recovering individual. It is as if the addict has been rendered powerless because it is not his or her efforts that will ultimately lead to success or failure.
Non-12-step rehab facilities seek to empower the patient to be the agent of change and participate at a greater level in the rehabilitation process. There is a greater onus on the patient, but it is argued that this is the only way that genuine change can be accomplished.
Empowerment is a central theme of this non-traditional approach. The idea is that the motivation for successful recovery can only come from some place that lies within. By discovering their own incentives to overcome addiction, patients are turning into the most powerful motivators available to them. But until that process has been accomplished, real recovery is not possible because the underlying issues have yet to be confronted.
Traditional 12-step programs have also been accused of being too rigid in their approach. In a 12-step program, every patient is funneled through the exact same process and improvement is expected from all who follow the steps. However, if one fails to make a successful recovery, even after following the steps, the program itself is never called into question. It is only the patient who is to blame.
In non 12-step rehab centers, the patient is viewed as already being in a state of emotional vulnerability brought on by their addiction struggles. Heaping blame upon them, it is thought, only pushes them away from fully engaging in recovery. The approach taken by non 12-step addiction treatment centers is to develop treatment protocols that are more tailored for an individual patient’s needs. Recovering individuals find a pace that is comfortable to them and the program is adapted to their level of progress. If the desired outcome cannot be achieved through one particular method, then the treatment takes a new direction until the goal has finally been reached.
Finally, in the traditional 12-step method, drug addiction and alcoholism are labeled as “incurable” diseases. Only by a lifelong commitment to attending meetings can the problem be held in check. To some struggling with addiction, however, the thought of constantly fighting a never-ending battle is so disheartening that it actually diminishes their desire to remain sober.
The non-traditional approach does view addiction as a very serious disease that can be potentially fatal. However, they look at this problem as one that does ultimately have an answer to it. Through programs focused on long-term recovery and therapeutic approaches that can teach recovery skills, an addicted person can move on to a life of lasting sobriety.