Traditional rehab centers have long used the 12 step model as their standard, but many people seeking treatment have grown tired of sitting in circles, reciting the same old phrases week after week and praying to a “Higher Power” for their problems to go away. Fortunately, there are alternatives to the 12 step method that many drug rehab programs have subscribed to. These alternative programs employ a variety of techniques to help treat the addicted person without any of the religious or spiritual overtones of 12 step programs.
The effectiveness of 12 step programs is debatable depending upon who is doing the research. Many drug addictions require medical supervision before a 12 step program is initiated so the statistics often relate to alcohol addiction. Since both alcohol and drug addiction fall under the banner of mental health, the statistics remain relevant for any addictive behavior.
- In a study by George E. Valliant, professor of psychiatry at Harvard, he compared a group of 12 step attendees with a group that had never undergone 12 step treatments for alcohol addiction. The results showed that those who had never used the 12 step treatment were just as likely to stop drinking as those that had undergone treatment.
- The Brandsma Study, in 1980, concluded that there are no significant differences between 12 step treatment, Rational Behavior Therapy treatment or Psychoanalytic Insight therapy. It also found that 50% of untreated patients vs. 80% of those treated had an overall reduction in their drinking. The study also found that the 12 step program had a higher rate of drop outs than any other program.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse finds that in severe or particular drug addictions, combining available treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the most effective way to ensure successful treatment for most patients.
Since it is known that recovery is possible regardless of the type of treatment a patient seeks, these alternatives should be explored. No medicine is a cure-all without the aid of some sort of behavioral therapy and support program in place for the patient.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT): This approach works to help patients become aware of the situations in which they would be most likely to use drugs. By recognizing and avoiding these situations, patients are more likely to learn to cope with their behavior.
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: an off shoot of CBT, it seeks to motivate patients to self-fulfillment without the use of substances and teaches patients how to manage their substance-free lives.
- Multidimensional family therapy: designed primarily to help families with addicted teens, seeks to improve family cohesiveness as a deterrent to substance abuse.
- Motivational Incentives and Motivational Interviewing: uses a patient’s desire and willingness to change as basis for treatment.
- Opioids: Methadone is the most recognizable treatment for opiate addiction. Buprenorphine also works the same way as methadone, by suppressing withdrawal symptoms and reducing the craving for the drug.
- Alcohol: Naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram are all drugs FDA approved from treating alcohol dependence. Naltrexone works to block pleasure sensations in the brain and reduce the rewards of drinking, thus lessening the users craving. Acamprosate reduces serious effects of alcohol withdrawal such as restlessness, depression, and anxiety. Disulfiram literally works to makes patients sick with nausea and palpitations if alcohol is consumed.
When it comes to treating drug and alcohol addiction, the addict’s recovery is of prime importance. What works for one person might not work for another but it is up to that one person to figure out what does work and make the choice to follow through.
META: Since it is known that recovery is possible regardless of the type of treatment a patient seeks, these alternatives should be explored.