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Effective Treatment Programs at Non 12 Step Rehabs

When we speak about addiction, and alcoholism in particular, people around the world associate treatment with the 12-Step Program. The 12-Step Fellowship, established in the 1930s, has become the most widespread purveyor of addiction treatment. Millions of people have overcome their addictions with the help of a 12-Step program.

However, the popularity of the 12-Step Program, along with some of its more dogmatic proponents, can sometimes overshadow the fact that there are a number of successful non-12-Step programs. The 12-Step Program itself does not work for everyone, and some people are unable to get on board with its spiritual approach.

It is a common misconception that only atheists have a hard time with 12-Step principles. In fact, even people who are otherwise religiously oriented can struggle to connect with the 12-Step program.

The good news is that there are non-12-Step programs that have helped many people overcome their addictions. Alternative forms of treatment can be very successful. With addiction, what any one person responds to may differ on a case-by-case basis, but various forms of treatment have generated consistent success stories.

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This Non 12 Step Treatment Program is essential in some cases for long-term recovery. Like a 12 step drug rehab program, both treatment philosophies have their pros and cons. In cases where a patient has yet to benefit from a non 12 step rehab addiction recovery program, a different approach can be taken.

Essentially, the 12-step model is a disease-based model that centers on the concept of alcoholism and drug addiction being an illness. For some in recovery, this can be very empowering because it allows them to let go of the notion of control, and take the guidance set out in these programs.  For others, conceptualizing their issues as an illness or disease is not helpful at all and a different, more secular view can be taken and huge progress can be made in very little time.

This holistic program incorporates the idea that the body and mind are connected and that addiction can stem from past issues that have not been dealt with. This type of program focuses on these issues instead of just on the idea of “not drinking” or “not using” alone.

How Non 12 step rehab program works?

This program uses research-based alternatives to help people fight addiction. These programs are generally based on behavioral principles, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in particular.

It works by combining a number of different methods in order to achieve the greatest possible results. This type of treatment is considered to be self-empowering and can be customized to fit the need of each individual and can include psychotherapy, holistic techniques, evidence-based treatment models, and in some cases group therapy.  Non 12 step rehabs offer group therapy that can be very useful for people who are more competitive, need social support, or like to see their progress in a group with other people.

Personal Approach To Everyone

By showing people the causes and conditions behind their drug use or drinking, a non-12-step method for treatment gives some a greater chance for sustained recovery. Instead of “just not picking up the first drink/drug” they can begin to understand their own unique triggers that caused them to want to drink or use in the first place and work forward from there.

According to research done by Dr Ronald Kadden, CBT principles useful in treating addiction include:

Coping skills training

People in non-12-Step rehabs are taught skills which help them deal with triggers, such as anxiety-provoking situations, or circumstances in which they would generally use substances to cope.

Managing cravings

Even if a chemical dependence no longer exists, people who struggle with addiction are likely to have to battle cravings. Non-12-Step programs train individuals to manage cravings, with a range of skills, from thinking of the negative consequences, to mindfulness techniques.

Managing emotional responses

Often, triggers that cause people to seek substances are associated with strong emotional responses. When someone gets very angry, they might want to drink so that the feeling does not overwhelm them. CBT and mindfulness techniques are very useful in managing strong emotions.

Changing negative thought patterns

People struggling with addiction experience repetitive thoughts that motivate them to seek substances. CBT trains them to find constructive ways to challenge these thoughts and not be consumed by them.

Characteristics Of Non-12-Step Programs

These programs have some essential characteristics which differentiate them from 12-Step programs. The following are the most pertinent.

Non-spiritual approaches:

The 12-Step Program posits that addiction is a physical and spiritual affliction. Non-12-Step programs agree that addiction is a physical affliction. But they are more likely to call it a mental illness than a spiritual one. Spiritual has religious connotations from which even the most secular 12-Step groups struggle to disassociate.

Objection to the disease model:

One of the fundamental 12-Step principles is that addiction is a disease that can never be cured. Many people struggling with addiction have a hard time accepting that. And not all mental health professionals agree with this principle. Many mental health experts posit that addiction can be cured with a range of alternative interventions, including medication, CBT, hypnosis, and other forms of therapy.


Non-12-Step programs emphasise the importance of recognizing that addiction often co-occurs with other mental illnesses. Programs that can manage dual-diagnoses are therefore prioritized.


Some 12-Step facilities or groups are dogmatic about aspects of the program. They see the 12-Step Program as the only option, and claim that with non-12-Step programs, one is bound to relapse. This dogmatism drives certain people away, and can lead some people to focus too much on undermining the recovery of others, rather than on implementing the program themselves.

Popular Non-12-Step Programs

There are a number of rehab centers that offer non-twelve-step programs, ranging from luxury rehabs to rehabs with a holistic approach. If you prefer a secular approach when it comes to your recovery and wants to feel like you’re in control of your life, these may be the best kinds of rehabs for you.

You can expect to find some of the following treatment approaches at a non-12-step rehabs:

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery programs take a non-spiritual, evidence-based approach to addiction treatment. These programs are used by some rehab centers. They are also offered through meetings and online support systems. SMART Recovery programs use CBT, as well as Motivational Enhancement Therapy, to treat addiction.

The SMART Recovery four-point program focuses on:
Generating and maintaining motivation to change
Learning to manage and cope with cravings
Training thought and emotional regulation skills
Constructing a balanced life

The SMART Recovery program acknowledges that its methods should be implemented in the context of holistic lifestyle changes. It accepts that medications can help people recover and remain sober. It is also open to evolving as new research brings more effective treatments to life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT may also be used in this program. Some strategies that this type of therapy can teach an individual in recovery include learning to identify and deal with triggers, handling cravings for drugs or alcohol, managing strong emotions that could lead to a relapse, and changing negative thought patterns that damage their self esteem. CBT is a powerful tool in that it lowers the chances of a relapse and encourages individuals to make positive changes in the way they think, feel, and behave. There is also a focus on strengthening relationships and social bonds with people that support their recovery.


LifeRing Secular Recovery is based on the conception that each individual holds the key to their own recovery and does not need to put his or her life in the hands of a higher power. It emphasises the idea that every person has an internal “sober self.” In therapy and groups, individuals learn to enhance their sober self and weaken their “addict self.”

LifeRing allows individuals to find the methods that help them enhance their sober self, rather than demanding adherence to particular steps. It focuses, however, on living in the present and not dwelling on the mistakes of one’s addict self.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a collection of non-12-Step programs rather than one specific program. SOS hosts online and face-to-face meetings open to people struggling with forms of addiction.

Moderation Management

Moderation Management differs from many other non-12-Step programs in that it does not require complete abstinence from alcohol or substances such as marijuana. It asserts that sobriety can be reached and maintained without cutting off these substances entirely.

Why Choose A Non 12 Step Rehab Program?

Many of those choose this program because they want to feel a sense of empowerment when it comes to their recovery. For others, the notion of having a higher power that is a central idea of 12 step programs really turns them off.

AA non 12 step rehabs offer programs that will utilize many of the same tools as other rehabs but will not have a spiritual emphasis on recovery. Some aspects of these drug rehabs include:

Starting off with a medically supervised detox
Availability of drug therapy to help ease withdrawal symptoms, or to help with other symptoms.
Availability of treatment for any co-occurring disorders (these could be either psychological or medical conditions).
Various types of therapy, including group, individual, or even couples’ counseling.
The option to choose treatment options that are highly effective in treating addiction or alcoholism.

Types Of Non 12 Step Program

There are a number of rehab centers that offer non-twelve-step programs, ranging from luxury rehabs to rehabs with a holistic approach. If you prefer a secular approach when it comes to your recovery and wants to feel like you’re in control of your life, these may be the best kinds of rehabs for you.

You can expect to find some of the following treatment approaches at a non 12 step rehabs:

SMART Recovery – This type of approach helps individuals feel empowered by recovery by creating a more healthy, balanced life for themselves. SMART recovery relies heavily on CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, to undo unhealthy and destructive patterns of thinking. As a result, an individual can also change the underlying behaviors that contribute to their addiction or alcoholism. This type of therapy puts the individual in full control of their healing and the progress they make. Instead of relying on a higher power, you learn to have the tools and coping strategies to conquer addiction on your own.

Why 12 Step Rehab Continues To Be Widely Utilized

Despite all the benefits of a non 12 step rehab, the 12 step approach continues to be the most widely used, classic model for recovery. Many individuals enjoy the program’s emphasis on giving up control to a higher power and on providing service to others.

The 12 steps themselves are the foundation of recovery in this program. An individual starts off by admitting their powerlessness over their alcoholism or addiction. They learn that their addiction or alcoholism is a spiritual as well as physical disease. With the help of a sponsor and regular attendance at AA meetings, they continue to work each step. In the end, they commit to providing service to others in the program by becoming a sponsor themselves and helping in other ways. This sense of service and commitment helps build a sense of self respect and empowerment while taking the focus off of the person themself.

Benefits of Non 12 Step Rehabs are:

Being surrounded by other people in the program who can provide support and address any concerns.
Meeting other people who struggle with the same issues, hearing their stories, and connecting with them regularly.
Opportunities to inspire and lead others during the course of your own recovery.
Meetings that are for specific members of the population, such as women, men, LGBT, or younger people.
The program is available for various types of addiction, including gambling, sex and romance, overeaters, and narcotics.
There are also programs like Al Anon and ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) that support spouses, children, other family members, and even friends of alcoholics and addicts whose lives may also be affected.

drug rehab

Some of the basic tenets of a non 12 step rehab program will be introduced during your stay. Attendance at meetings is also encouraged in the program. After completing treatment, the rehab will help you transition back into your regular life by continuing to attend meetings, getting a sponsor, and working the steps, as well as continuing other forms of therapy.

Knowing Which Type Of Drug Rehab Is Best For You

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to choosing a rehab. It’s important to do a little research before choosing the program that feels like the best fit for you. The treatment program offered by non 12 step rehabs welcomes people from all backgrounds, including atheists and agnostics.

But in case you don’t find any kind of spiritual approach satisfying your needs, there are numerous other equally effective treatment plans available. What’s important is finding the program that’s best fits your unique needs and background. Entering a rehab may be one of the biggest decisions you make and one that may have a long lasting impact on your life.

There is no “right” answer when it comes to choosing a rehab. Individuals should decide for themselves which program or programs best suit them. 12-Step Programs provide good options, but they are far from the only successful programs available.

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