Are You Searching for an Alternative Addiction Treatment?

Are You Searching for an Alternative Addiction Treatment?


What is alternative addiction treatment when it comes to substance abuse and alcoholism?  Pretty much anything that deviates from what is popular and widespread, which is the 12 step model of recovery.

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with the 12 step model of recovery and this analysis is not intended to attack it in any way really.  But the fact of the matter is that many, many people do not do well with the 12 step program.  AA World Services reports that almost 80 percent of people who come to their first AA meeting will leave the program of AA within less than year and never come back. That is a pretty startling figure for what is currently our best solution in the fight against alcoholism and addiction.  Is it possible we can do better than this?  Is it possible that there are other addiction treatment methods available out there for people?

Maybe.  There are alternatives of course, but they are spread so few and far in between as to almost not even show up on the radar.  For example, there are 12 step alternatives such as “rational recovery,” or there are also dozens of religious based programs that offer to help people get clean and sober.  None of these are very popular compared to the 12 step program, however.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Javier Moreno!

Are these alternatives more effective than 12 step recovery?  Probably not, though that information is hard to come by. It is difficult enough to get accurate statistics on the success rates of 12 step recovery.  It is even harder to get decent data on smaller, alternative programs that do not have many people participating in them.  But suffice it to say that success rates are not very encouraging in any recovery programs, whether they are mainstream recovery or otherwise.

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If you are in early recovery and you need support in order to stay clean, then 12 step recovery makes a lot of sense.  There are meetings everywhere and they are free. You cannot beat that in terms of support and convenience.  Whether or not you agree with their treatment philosophy is irrelevant in most cases, as just about anyone at a 12 step meeting is willing to talk to a fellow addict and try to help them in a general sort of way.  This is valuable and to turn your back on this level of support, especially when it is free and widespread, might be a mistake.

On the other hand, the longer you stay clean and sober, the less you probably need 12 step support. Long term recovery is about holistic growth and avoiding complacency, not about following specific programs of recovery.  In other words, alternative addiction treatments make good long term strategies for recovery.

My advice to anyone who is struggling to get clean and sober is to just go with a mainstream solution to start with.  Call up any old rehab, or just wander into any old 12 step meeting.  These are the typical solutions that are widespread, even though they may not work very well.  The fact is that you will not find a magic solution with an alternative either.  The only secret to success is hard work, and this is true regardless of what recovery program you choose to follow.

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