The traditional 12-step approach to addiction is based on a firm belief in a “Higher Power” and has been proven to be very effective since the 1930s when it was founded. However, today’s society is much more culturally and ethnically blended than in the past and consequently, people have more diverse beliefs. The 12-step program is now more flexible in terms of allowing members to define their own higher power rather than accepting a Christian God. Non 12 step rehab programs, on the other hand, do not normally contain a religious component at all.

If a person is struggling with substance abuse and has taken the momentous step of seeking out help, it is important for them to know that there are alternatives to 12 step available to them. Non-12 step rehab centers take a contrary view to the traditional idea that addiction is a consequence of moral weakness. This is because it is now widely acknowledged that addiction is a chronic mental health condition that requires treatment to allow a person to live a substance-free life.

There are several alternatives to the traditional approach to rehab that may resonate better with people seeking addiction treatment. In this article, we highlight a few of the non-12 step rehab programs for addiction treatment that offer an effective route to recovery for people who are not necessarily religious or spiritual.

SMART Recovery

Self-Management and Recovery Training or SMART Recovery as it is widely known uses many of the same principles as behavioral therapies such as CBT. SMART is a research-based substance abuse recovery program that deals with the negative thoughts driving addictive behaviors and seeks to change them.

The four points of focus for SMART Recovery are:

  • Motivating change, building on it and sustaining it over the long-term
  • Education on managing cravings with coping strategies
  • Finding mechanisms to regulate moods, thoughts, and behaviors
  • Discovering and creating a new and balanced way of life

SMART Recovery has the objective of helping individuals recognize the destruction caused by substance abuse. It also highlights the problems that have been caused physically, emotionally and behaviorally and addresses them by establishing new and more positive mechanisms for dealing with stress and other triggers for substance abuse.

Women for Sobriety (WFS)

Some women with substance abuse issues feel more comfortable in an all-female environment. Indeed, research shows that women initially use substances for much more emotionally-based reasons than their male counterparts. Gender-specific non 12 step drug rehab like Women for Sobriety provides a compassionate and understanding environment where women can share their very personal experiences with each other for mutual benefit.

WFS is very much about acceptance, using 13 affirmative statements to support its program which sets out to achieve a “New Life.” Members are able to learn valuable coping mechanisms that help them protect and maintain their sobriety amongst other women in similar situations. Women on WFS programs are empowered to take control of their lives by accepting that they can choose to be happy and that negative thoughts can destroy their potential to be so.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

SOS is a not one single rehab program but a collection of them that are all separate from each other. Essentially SOS is a nonprofit network of autonomous local groups that are dedicated solely to helping individuals recover from substance use disorder. SOS pulls all these resources together in an online community that provides thousands of individuals seeking alternatives to 12 step rehab.

This organization appeals to people who are looking for a different route to recovery than the traditional method. Whereas 12 step requires members to relinquish control to their higher power for “salvation” from addiction, SOS promotes a completely secular approach. The organizations on the SOS network are all committed to the principles of treating addiction as a chronic illness and do not offer any spiritual or religious components in their programs.

Finding the Best Route to Recovery

Every individual facing the challenges of overcoming addiction needs to find their own treatment path to follow. Due to the fact that addiction is a long-term illness with a high risk of relapse, it is important that recovering addicts are supported by like minded people over the long haul. The 12 step approach is extremely effective for religious people or those with a strong theological faith of any denomination are most likely to get the benefits of the program.

For others who have a different motivation or a stronger belief in science than spirituality, researching non-12 step rehab centers for treatment and reviewing the components offered by various programs is most likely to result in the best choice for their individual needs.

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