Over 70 years ago, a man named Bill met a doctor named Bob and talked about their mutual addiction to alcohol. This was the very first 12-Step meeting of their program that grew to be called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Though touted as non-religious, the designed twelve steps suggested as a treatment program of recovery became their constitution of a kind, and with study of these, a turning over of your entire life to a Higher Power as you understand it, participating in hourly meetings, and helping other alcoholics were promised to keep you sober. It would be rare to talk to any adult in this country about AA and for them to be unaware of the organization. Just as the AA version of treatment exists, there are non-12 step treatment programs available to addicts as well.
While AA worked for the two founders, and for thousands and thousands of others over most of the last century and the beginning of this one, thousands of those who did recover had relapsed back into alcoholic drinking and behaviors. The percentage of those remaining sober for the rest of their lives is touted to be anywhere from 7% to 25%. That does not sound efficient, nor does it promote many to come and take a try. It is a free program which many are forced to accept because of financial restrictions, but fewer people stay sober than those who leave the program and return to drinking.
Why a Different Approach was Needed
Many people in 12-step treatment programs could not follow the suggestions in the Big Book of AA, their text of sorts. They were told to accept a Higher Power, or God that was supposed to help them and guide them in sobriety. They were either atheists, agnostics, or had another religion where there was no named God. They just didn’t seem to fit in. Many people did not like being called sick and alcoholic for life. They didn’t enjoy the meetings where people talked discouragingly about their drinking lives, or their relapse. Many did not agree with their sponsors, a person they work the steps with and allow to guide them through the program. This is where the non-12 step treatment programs began to form. These other clients were finally finding success in addiction recovery.
Non-12 Step Treatment Programs
Professionals in the area of rehabilitation knew something else must be created that could work with more efficiency and clarity that could fill all needs. Rather than integrate what they already knew about addiction and recovery, they based each person’s sobriety on ways that worked just for them. Positive strategies, motivational techniques, and positive reinforcement in a cognitive atmosphere was the result.
Nationwide, there are a select group of non-12 step treatment programs that let you recover at your own pace, whether it takes 30 days or 6 months. They empower their participants to learn to make positive and decisive choices after they stop drinking. Therefore, each individual takes a journey inside themselves and finds her or his own root to the problem. This self-discovery is truly authentic and owned by the sufferer. This cognitive means of rehabilitation is imperative. They also learn positive life skills, physical and emotional aspects of alcoholism in terms of their bodies and their feelings, and hopefully move on to lead successful, positive lives that are fulfilling.
Though conclusive studies on results of non-12 step treatment programs are unavailable as yet, they seem to have fewer clients who relapse.