What are some different paths to recovery? Is AA the only way?
There is more than one way to get clean and sober.
It also might be the case that certain addicts and alcoholics are at different phases of their addiction, which might necessitate different recovery options. Consider that your path might change over time, and that this might very well be a good thing.
Let’s start with the obvious: there is a tremendous amount of support to be gained from 12 step programs, as they are widespread, free, and readily available to almost anyone. Despite this, many people take issue with these support groups, and refuse to attend them for one reason or another. If you are thinking about quitting drugs and alcohol, don’t be put off if you think there is only one way to get help. Some people have tried 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and decided that it’s not for them. That’s alright–there are other options out there to help you achieve sobriety.
I personally went through a residential treatment program, followed by long term treatment. The philosophy behind these treatment centers was the twelve step programs of AA and NA, but my focus today is more on personal growth through other means. I do credit the twelve step fellowships as having been a large part of my recovery–but I can see today that there are alternatives. Some people are completely terrified of groups, and they could never open themselves up to sharing in a large meeting.
Don’t let that stop you from asking for help and trying to solve your drug problem. Here are some other paths you can take to achieve lasting recovery:
1) Private Counseling – For people who are averse to group therapy, private counseling sessions with a therapist can work wonders. Having a weekly one-on-one session might be enough for some people to stay focused on their recovery. If this proves to be inadequate, however, you might need to supplement your recovery with something more.
2) Join a Church – It’s probably not enough to simply go to church on Sunday–if you want to use Religion as your method for recovery, you need to get fully involved with the entire church community.
3) Start a Career – where you are directly helping other recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. Working with others has proven to be one of the most effective means of maintaining sobriety. You could become a counselor, a therapist, or work at a treatment center. There are also lots of positions for helping troubled teens and children who have substance abuse problems. Giving back in this way is a powerful tool for anyone’s recovery.
4) Use Medication – some would argue that treating a chemical dependency with more chemicals doesn’t make any sense, but there have been some real strides made in the last decade in this area. There are several new medications that are not narcotic, but help people by reducing physical cravings. An example of this is Campral for alcoholics or Chantix for nicotine addicts. There are other medications targeted for other classes of drugs as well.
5) Exercise and Nutrition – There is a fine line here as well; if you become so immersed in physical fitness that you can use it as a method of recovery, then you are probably over doing it a bit. Nevertheless, trading one unhealthy addiction for a much healthier one (exercise and nutrition) has become a method of recovery for some people.
The point is that there are options out there for you. Don’t be discouraged by people who tell you that there is only one way to get clean and sober. Find something that works for you and go with it. If something doesn’t work, then try something else.
Remember to ask for help. People who are living a life of recovery are usually willing to share their experiences with you. Take what knowledge they give you and apply it to your life. You can do it!
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