12 Step

Non 12 Step

One hears a lot these days about rising interest in non 12 step programs for the handling of alcoholism or addiction.  What exactly is meant by “non 12 step”? While we are at it what is meant by 12 step programs?

The original 12 step program as laid out in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is a series of 12 steps that one applies to one’s life in order to reach and/or maintain a clean and sober lifestyle.  It was used generally for a long time in an out-patient, meeting type of setting, and is still in very wide use the world over using this format.  By attending meetings and finding a sponsor one is able to associate with like minded individuals and receive group as well as individual assistance in applying the 12 steps.

There are also many in-patient rehabilitation programs that use the 12 steps as the core of their treatment modalities.  Many of these are the common 28 day type programs.  Some attempt to get you through all 12 steps in the 28 days, while others stress the first few steps, hoping you will continue on with these steps after completion of the program.

Non 12 step is a somewhat generic name give to treatment modalities that use something other that 12 step formats.  These non 12 step programs can and do differ widely.  Some are in-patient, some out-patient, some religious, some not.  The better ones are drug-free and holistic, while others get involved in substitute medications that replace one problem with another.  The lesson to learn here is that all non 12 step programs are not equal and one needs to do their homework.

In my opinion, if one is looking for a non 12 step program, one should look for the following

  • A drug free program.  By this is meant that one is 100% drug free at the end of treatment and not sent home with substitute medication, many of which are just as addictive as or more so than the substances they are meant to replace.
  • A long term (not 28 day) residential program.  The nature of addiction and the fact of more often that not the person has a multiple substance abuse problems dictates a program length long enough to facilitate actual change and not just getting someone clean.
  • A full and comprehensive detox program that actually get the drug residuals out of the body.  Withdrawal and detox are not synonymous.  Withdrawal simply makes it possible to cease use.  Full detox is a major factor in handling possible relapse resulting from physical cravings.
  • Life skill segments that actually isolate and offer solutions to life’s problems that more often than not preceded drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

 Non 12 step treatment options and becoming more and more sought after, especially after failures in finding sobriety from traditional 28 day programs.  If the above points are held to in ones search, then the search for a non 12 step program will be much more fruitful.