One of the most important things we know about treating substance use disorders is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone’s story and situation is different, and treatment strategies and resources that might be quite effective for one person may not be terribly useful to another.
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12-Step Program Alternatives
That is true even after a person’s time in a residential treatment center has come to an end. While many people find the support they need in a 12-Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, these programs are not a perfect fit for everyone in recovery.
Given the prevalence of 12-Step programs, it may well seem as though they are the only available option for a person in recovery. But it turns out that there are quite a number of alternatives. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
A Christian Approach: Celebrate Recovery
Celebrate Recovery may be an excellent option for those for whom Christian faith is an important aspect of life. The program has its own spin on the traditional 12-Steps and directly relates them to different passages of the Bible. Most meetings, perhaps unsurprisingly, take place in churches—but you don’t have to be a member of the church in question in order to attend the meetings.
A Buddhist Approach: Refuge Recovery
Built on Buddhist principles, Refuge Recovery is clearly a good option for practicing Buddhists. But it may also appeal to those who have a more tangential relationship to Buddhism, perhaps via mindfulness or meditation practice. Refuge Recovery centers on four truths:
1. addiction is suffering
2. the cause of addiction is repetitive craving
3. recovery is possible
4. the path to recovery is available
A Secular Approach: Secular Organizations for Sobriety
Maybe a program grounded in spirituality—including Alcoholic Anonymous with its focus on a “higher power”—just is not for you. Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) and its spinoff, LifeRing Secular Recovery, are built on notions of personal responsibility and self-reliance. Issues of spirituality are simply not part of the recovery equation for these organizations—making them a good fit for those who are not adherents to any particular faith or who reject faith in a deity entirely. According to these programs, sobriety must always be a person’s foremost priority.
A Therapeutic Approach: SMART Recovery
Grounded in rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), which is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, SMART Recovery posits that a person’s thoughts lead to their feelings and those feelings, in turn, lead to their actions. Having a better understanding of this process can lead to positive outcomes, including ongoing sobriety. The program encourages participants to make positive changes now that can lead to better outcomes in the future instead of ruminating on past mistakes.
A Woman-Centric Approach: Women for Sobriety
Jean Kirkpatrick struggled with alcohol and realized that the recovery space did not have options specific to the needs of women. In the 1970s, she founded Women for Sobriety, a program that centers on replacing negative self-talk with ongoing self-affirmation. Participants are encouraged to pursue spiritual and emotional growth, commit to their physical well-being and personal responsibility, and to engage in active problem solving.
The Importance of Having—and Giving—Support in Recovery
No matter what recovery program you may choose to participate in, the most important thing is that you find a supportive community that understands what you are going through and is committed to helping all the members of the group stay sober. Finding the right fit for yourself will make it easier for you to be an active participant who not only receives support but provides it for others as well.
So don’t be discouraged if Alcoholics Anonymous (or any of the other programs listed here) turns out not to be the right place for you. Choose a different option, try it out—and keep trying until you find a supportive home that meets your needs.
We Can Help Get You Off and Running on Your Recovery Journey
At French Creek Recovery Center, we provide personalized treatment plans grounded in evidence-based practices and informed by our experience, expertise, and compassion. The group therapy portion of our rehabilitation program provides an excellent primer in the ways in which a supportive shared community can provide an important foundation on which to build your continuing sobriety. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, we are ready and able to help.