People often ask me on this site if there is a good non 12 step approach to drug and alcohol addiction recovery that actually works well. Many people suspect that there has to be a better way to recover than to simply sit in AA meetings every day for the rest of their lives.
My opinion and my stance is that I believe that there is a better way. I do not necessarily push people away from AA but I think I do challenge them to look at their meeting attendance in terms of dependency rather than support. If you have 1 week of sobriety and you are struggling then I suggest that you take action, including going to an AA meeting. But if you have 6 months sober and you are bored in recovery and you want to do more with your life then I highly suggest that you stop spending so much time in meetings and start living life in your recovery instead.
My thought is that AA and NA meetings are based on the “consumption model” of recovery. You go to rehab and they play videos for you to consume. You sit in AA meetings each day and you can pretty much stay sober just by osmosis if you get lucky and put in at least some effort. Of course it is not automatic but in my mind they have taken the parts that work about helping people in recovery–identification and relating to each other–and then concentrated that into a form that is actually the AA meeting. Now if you repeat that every single day then what happens is that you teach people to depend on the meetings. You teach them to rely on their daily “feeding” of AA lingo talk to help get them through their day without drinking. My thought is that this is similar to “consumption.”
The consumption mindset says “I want to be entertained” so it flips on the television and sits and consumes.
The consumption mindset says “I want to recover without having to think much” so it goes to an AA meeting every single day and starts to speak the AA language.
So what is my non 12 step alternative approach, and is it any good?
My approach is to shift from a consumption mindset to a creation mindset. Instead of saying “I want to recover without having to think,” the person would instead ask themselves:
“How can I create something positive in my life that will help me to recover?”
That should become the driving question for you in recovery.
And what makes it work, what truly makes it effective, is that you repeat the question. Do you have a goal in your life? Do you have something positive that you are striving for right now? If not, then your job for that day is to find your next task, find your next big goal, find that next big positive change that you can make.
Once you do that, then you chase it. This becomes your creationist approach to recovery. Once you achieve a goal, you then seek another area of your life to improve upon. Do not sit idle. Do not allow yourself to just be lazy and sit around and basically do nothing. Do not allow yourself to fall back into the “consumption mindset.”
Start creating instead. For example, maybe you are clean and sober and now you want to get into shape and quit smoking cigarettes. Those are creation type goals. You have to find a way to push yourself to exercise. You have to find strategies that can help you overcome nicotine addiction. You can create both of these positive changes in your life, and doing so will be a creative adventure, one that strengthens your recovery in so many ways.
The consumption mindset is only good enough to keep you miserable in your recovery. It might keep you sober (if you consume enough AA meetings), but it won’t make you happy.
The creative mindset will keep you growing in your recovery because you are constantly seeking to create positive changes in your life. You will also be much happier this way because your life will keep getting better and better. If you just sit in meetings every day and consume enough “recovery talk” to barely stay sober, then you will not really be happy in your recovery.
You were meant to do more. You were meant to create; to do great things in your recovery.
Create positive changes every day and your life will get better and better.