One of the things that traditional recovery programs tend to get right is fellowship and support. Obviously the AA program is widespread and available to many people and they have established a huge network of support. If you are in or near a city then you probably have access to 12 step meetings, and the people in those meetings are almost always willing to help in any way that they can.
That said, I personally do not rely on 12 step meetings for my recovery anymore. During my first two years of recovery, I was going to regular meetings, but I was also living in long term treatment. Living in rehab was actually a bigger source of support than the meetings were, in my opinion. I was also seeing a therapist on a regular basis while living in treatment.
That was the first 20 months of my recovery. After that, however, I moved out of rehab, stopped going to meetings, and since then I have relied on a program of personal growth and positive action. My last 8+ years of recovery have not involved meetings or therapy.
If I had to do it all over again, I still believe that I would need some form of support in early recovery. There is value in the idea of fellowship. There is value in being able to identify with others in early recovery. There is value in not having to go it alone.
I do not know for sure that long term rehab and 12 step meetings are the only valid form of support. I believe there are other forms of support that you can get in early recovery. I just happen to have lived in long term rehab and so that was what was required of me.
For example, you might do well to get support from:
* A church that you are involved with.
* An informal group of people who are trying to get clean and sober with you.
* An online recovery forum where people are trying to recover.
* A group of people that you exercise with or work out with.
* A supportive friend or family member who is also in recovery.
And so on.
If you have never been in recovery before, there is huge value in the idea of identification. What is this and why is it important?
We need identification in early recovery so that we know that we are not crazy. Seriously, it is actually very important to get this reassurance.
The problem in early recovery is that the recovering addict or alcoholic will believe that they are unique. They are so wrapped up in their own drama and in their own little world that they do not believe anyone else could ever understand or possibly relate to them.
This is the main point of 12 step meetings. People tell stories and talk about their recovery process, and the newcomer can listen and start to understand that they are not crazy, they are not unique, that there are other people out there who are trying to stop drinking who have been through the same issues that they have.
This validation and identification process seems to be very important in early recovery, and you can not get this from someone unless they have “been where you are at.” That is why people in recovery can help each other so effectively…..because they can relate to each other.
And this process is going to prove to be important for most people in early recovery. So if you choose not to go the 12 step route, you probably need to find someone in recovery who can talk to you and help assure you that you are not crazy. Identification is important. Validation is important.
If you are in early recovery, then you probably need some form of support from someone who is in recovery. If you cannot find that anywhere else, I would suggest that you try 12 step meetings.
If you are dead set against 12 step programs, I would suggest that you seek help and support in an online recovery forum, and then start taking positive action in your life while abstaining entirely from drugs and alcohol.