Should Alcohol Drug Treatment Centers Be Based on AA?

Should Alcohol Drug Treatment Centers Be Based on AA?


Most alcohol drug treatment centers are set up based on the 12 step program of recovery.  This means that they draw heavily from programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous in order to help clients recover from drug addiction and alcoholism.  There are both advantages and disadvantages to doing so.

The biggest advantage of using 12 step programs in an alcohol drug treatment center is that you automatically draw on a huge support system of established meetings for after the client leaves treatment.  This is huge.  When a client leaves rehab, the chances of them staying clean and sober if they isolate and do not have any additional help are really very slim.  So what is an addiction treatment center to do?  Send them to AA, of course.  It really is a practical solution in most cases because there are not a ton of alternatives to this, especially for the price.  AA meetings are free, though many people do donate to them in order to keep them running.

Sobriety medallion
Creative Commons License photo credit: annrkiszt

So what is the main disadvantage of using AA to base your recovery center on?  Probably the fact that many people reject the program outright, and this puts up a barrier to helping a lot of people. AA census data over a 30 year study claimed that over half of every person who attended their first AA meeting would leave the program within one year and never return.  In fact the number was closer to 70 percent of all people who tried AA.  And this is coming from internal AA census data!  So there is a real problem with getting everyone to accept the 12 step program as their solution.  The fact is, most don’t.  We can fault the people for this or we can fault the program.  Either way, this is a huge chunk of alcoholics and addicts that are not being treated.

So what are the alternatives?  What is the solution?  That may be difficult to answer, as any solution that can replace such a structure like AA is going to be expensive.  Either it will be expensive in resources or expensive in the time and effort that it takes to put it in place.  It is probably not worth trying to unseat the champ, at this point, but rather to focus on additional recovery strategies that can supplement the 12 step program.  If addicts and alcoholics are failing with traditional recovery (AA), then they should try to do something different in order to get different results.

- Approved Treatment Center -


Rehabs carry part of the responsibility here because they introduce a lot of alcoholics to a new recovery solution.  It is up to them to find strategies that work.

- Approved Treatment Center -call-to-learn-about