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Non-12-Step Addiction Recovery Programs: Frequently Asked Questions

Exploring Non-12-Step Recovery

Twelve-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, have helped many recovering addicts. But they don’t work for everyone.

If you’d like to try a different approach, many non-12-Step programs are available to help you achieve and maintain sobriety.

Questions you may have about these programs include:

  • What’s the difference between 12-Step and non-12-Step?
  • What are some of the non-12-Step options?
  • Where can I find a non-12-Step program?
  • Do these programs work?
  • How much do they cost?

What’s the Difference Between 12 Step vs. Non-12-Step Programs?

  • Twelve-Step programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, etc.) tend to have a spiritual outlook on recovery. The 12 Steps list “God” as a higher power to help you achieve and maintain abstinence, and they follow a set of “traditions” that is outlined in the Big Book of AA.
  • Twelve-step programs require you to admit that you are powerless over your addiction. Alcoholics and addicts are seen as having no control over their use and will always be addicts whether they are sober or not.
  • Twelve-step programs operate on the basis that addicts have moral defects. These must be admitted and rectified in the recovery process.
  • Non-12-Step programs tend to revolve around the pursuit of knowledge and self-reliance. These programs foster empowerment through encouragement and education.
  • Non-12-Step programs may change their approach according to scientific research. Unlike 12-Step programs, which follow a consistent approach, non-12-Step programs are also constantly evolving to adapt to new addiction research.

Which Programs Are Non-12-Step?

  • SMART Recovery (Self Management for Addiction Recovery): SMART Recovery is a 4-point program that is focused on empowerment and reliance. The program evolves as addiction knowledge does, and it uses scientific and psychological research. 3
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS): Much like SMART Recovery, this program values ongoing scientific research on addiction and doesn’t subscribe to just one theory of addiction. 2
  • LifeRing Secular Recovery: This program offers support and encouragement for members through empowerment and sharing of experiences. Members discover which strategies work best for them and continue to develop and refine them throughout recovery. 1
  • Women for Sobriety: A nonprofit organization that helps women achieve sobriety through a 13-statement program focused on positivity and growth. 4

How Do I Find a Meeting Near Me?

Whether you live in California, Texas, Florida, New York or another state, a non-12-Step program likely meets in your area.

Visit the sites for the following non-12-Step programs to find a meeting near you:

Are There Non-12-Step Rehabs?

A number of non-12-Step drug and alcohol rehab facilities are available for those who aren’t partial to 12-Step recovery programs. These programs generally use a well-rounded and scientifically proven approach to recovery. They may use evidence-based addiction treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or rational emotive behavioral therapy.

Many work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to your needs. They may also incorporate holistic treatments such as yoga, exercise programs, nutrition plans and massage.

Do Non-12-Step Addiction Recovery Programs Work?

Non-12-Step addiction recovery programs have helped countless people to get sober and live a happy and healthy life. Many of them have a more secular approach compared to the spiritual philosophy of standard 12-Step programs.

People who aren’t religious often find the secular approach to be more consistent with their beliefs.

How Much Do These Programs Cost?

Non-12-Step meetings are free to attend. Much like 12-Step programs, the only requirement is that you have a desire to stop drinking alcohol or using drugs.

The cost of non-12-Step inpatient and outpatient drug recovery programs will vary based on the location, amenities and how long you stay (28 or 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or more).

Are There Non-12-Step Programs for Families of Addicts?

SMART Recovery Family & Friends is designed to help those affected by the substance addiction of loved ones. 5 Just as SMART Recovery uses research and empowerment for recovering addicts, the Family & Friends approach is science-based and uses tools from the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) approach, created by Dr. Robert Meyers.

Family & Friends has both in-person meetings and online support meetings.

Are These Programs Confidential?

Non-12-Step programs are completely confidential just as 12-Step programs are. The meetings are safe and trusting environments in which you can share your experiences and feelings about substance addiction.

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