Complete Guide to Non 12 Step Recovery Georgia

The Complete Guide Non 12-Step Recovery Programs

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Non 12-Step Recovery Programs: What Are They?

Recovery from addiction is like finding your own way through a maze – it’s different for everyone. Some people might get help from therapists, others might find strength in support groups, and some might turn to spiritual practices. There’s no right or wrong path, just what works best for you. It’s all about figuring out what helps you stay on track and keep moving forward toward a healthier, happier life. One of the major decisions to make in your own recovery is the type of program that is right for you! Generally, there are 12-step recovery programs and non-12-step recovery programs such as Centered Recovery, and each serves a purpose! Now, to understand non-12-step recovery programs a bit better, let’s start with the traditional 12-step approach first.

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What is the Traditional 12-Step Recovery Program?

The 12-step recovery model stands as one of the most commonly used approaches to addiction treatment. This traditional pathway offers a structured approach to sobriety and spiritual growth. Developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in the 1930s, it has since become the foundation of countless recovery programs across the nation!

The roots of the traditional 12-step model trace back to the experiences of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. Bill and Bob were two alcoholics who found fellowship and sobriety through mutual support and spiritual principles. In 1935, they founded Alcoholics Anonymous, which would eventually become the 12-step program. The core philosophy involves admitting powerlessness over addiction, surrendering to a higher power, taking moral inventory, making amends, and supporting others in their recovery journey.

The twelve steps provide a structured guide for individuals with addiction to navigate their way toward sobriety and personal transformation. Central to the 12-step approach is the emphasis on fellowship and mutual support! Meetings, typically held in churches or community centers, provide a safe space to share their struggles, experiences, and triumphs with others who understand their journey. Another aspect of the 12-step program is sponsorship. When an experienced member guides a newcomer through the steps it is known as a sponsor/sponsee relationship.

While originally intended for alcoholics, the 12-step model has been adapted to address a wide range of addictions, including drugs and gambling. However, the strongest emphasis is on personal responsibility, spirituality, and community support. The 12-step recovery model has a deep history rooted in the experiences of those who have struggled with addiction. Its legacy lies in providing individuals with a structured path toward sobriety, spiritual growth, and a life free from the grip of addiction.

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What is a Non-12-Step Recovery Program?

On the other hand, there are also non-12-step recovery programs to consider that differ from the traditional approach most people think of. Non-12-step approaches to recovery represent methods to overcome addictions without using the principles of traditional 12-step programs. These approaches are gaining popularity, offering individuals more options for their specific needs and preferences!

Non-12-step recovery methods can be traced back to the mid-20th century when concerns about the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to traditional 12-step programs began to grow. Some people expressed concern about the spiritual and religious components of AA/NA, urging for non-religious alternatives. Sometimes, they found these components to be incompatible with their beliefs or ineffective in addressing their addiction. As a result, non-12-step recovery programs started to emerge, offering different techniques!

A major milestone in the history of non-12-step approaches is the founding of Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS). Instead of relying on a higher power, SOS participants encourage each other to take personal responsibility for their recovery and develop coping strategies grounded in reason and logic. Similar to SOS, another non-12-step approach is SMART Recovery, which was established in 1994. SMART includes using cognitive-behavioral techniques to empower positive change in addictive behaviors. Unlike AA, which views addiction as a lifelong disease, SMART Recovery sees addiction as a behavior that can be modified through education, self-awareness, and practical skills.

Several more non-12-step recovery programs may fit your needs! Women for Sobriety (WFS) provides a supportive environment tailored to women’s recovery needs. LifeRing Secular Recovery focuses on building sober, secular, and self-directed lives. What sets non-12-step approaches apart is their emphasis on individual empowerment. Often, making decisions based on their own values and beliefs is seen as a major difference as they guide their own recovery.

Key differences between 12-Step Recovery and Non 12-Step Recovery

Now, let’s highlight the key differences between 12-step and non-12-step recovery programs in addiction recovery!

Philosophy and Approach

  • 12-Step Recovery: Rooted in spiritual principles and the belief in surrendering to a higher power for recovery.
  • Non-12-Step Recovery: Emphasize self-reliance, personal empowerment, and rational decision-making without focusing on spirituality or a higher power.

Concept of Addiction

  • 12-Step Recovery: View addiction as a lifelong disease or disorder that requires ongoing management and abstinence.
  • Non-12-Step Recovery: Sees addiction as a behavior that can be modified through education, self-awareness, and practical skills, often with the possibility of moderation rather than strict abstinence.

Treatment Methods

  • 12-Step Recovery: Rely heavily on group meetings, adherence to a prescribed set of steps, and sponsorship by more experienced members.
  • Non-12-Step Recovery: Offer a variety of therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and holistic techniques, often tailored to individual needs and preferences.

Self-Responsibility vs. Surrender

  • 12-Step Recovery: Advocate surrendering to a higher power and accepting one’s powerlessness over addiction as a crucial step toward recovery.
  • Non-12-Step Recovery: Promote self-empowerment, personal responsibility, and the development of coping strategies to manage addictive behaviors without reliance on external forces.

Community and Support

  • 12-Step Recovery: Provide a strong sense of community and support through regular meetings, fellowship, and sponsorship.
  • Non-12-Step Recovery: Offer peer support and encouragement but may vary in the degree of community involvement and structure.


  • 12-Step Recovery: Open to individuals of all backgrounds but may pose challenges for those who struggle with the spiritual or religious components.
  • Non-12-Step Recovery: Aim to be more inclusive and adaptable to diverse belief systems, offering options that do not require adherence to specific spiritual or religious doctrines.

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Success Rates with 12-Step Programs vs. Non-12-Step Programs

Comparing the success rates of 12-step recovery programs versus non-12-step recovery programs is complex for many reasons. Various factors will affect these rates including definitions of success, study methods, and the diversity of programs and populations involved. Overall, success rates vary widely among individuals and may depend on factors such as program engagement, motivation for change, social support, and individual differences in response to treatment. However, here are some highlights based on available research on these programs!

  • Research suggests that AA can be effective for some individuals, with studies indicating a wide range of success rates. 
  • The anonymous nature and lack of formal tracking make it challenging to determine precise success rates.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous Key Research Findings suggest that there is a roughly 35% success rate when attending meetings for a minimum of 2-3 years. However, addiction specialists have seen success rates between 5-10% in similar studies.
  • Similar levels of improvement in alcohol use, quality of life, and self-efficacy for both AA and SMART Recovery.
  • In contrast, evidence-based approaches have shown up to a 60% success rate after a minimum of one year, as well as up to 56% success after a decade.

Reasons People May Seek Non-12-Step Recovery Programs

Often, the decision to seek out non-12-step recovery approaches is a personal one. Stemming from personal beliefs, preferences, and past experiences with addiction treatment, there are countless reasons for a new approach. Understanding why some individuals opt for non-12-step programs highlights the diverse needs growing within the addiction recovery community!

Foremost, a major reason is the lack of alignment with the spiritual or religious aspects of 12-step programs. Surrendering to a higher power is a central tenet of 12-step recovery, and some may feel uncomfortable or resistant to this concept for various reasons. Non-12-step programs, such as SMART Recovery, offer alternatives focusing on self-reliance and rational decision-making. Generally, for those looking for a non-spiritual approach, these options are more appealing.

Also, people may be drawn to non-12-step programs because of the individualized treatment and evidence-based therapeutic techniques. Non-12-step recovery programs often offer a range of modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and holistic approaches! This flexibility allows participants to tailor their treatment experience to their preferences.

Non-12-step recovery programs may appeal to those who have not had success with traditional 12-step approaches in the past. While AA and NA have helped countless individuals achieve sobriety, they may not work for everyone – and that’s okay! Non-12-step recovery programs are vital for those who are seeking a fresh perspective on recovery!

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Non-12-Step Recovery Support Groups

Support groups for addiction recovery are important for success. The connections built through recovery are lifelong and valuable, and support groups allow those relationships to blossom. Here are some non-12-step recovery meetings and where to attend them!

SMART Recovery: Self-Management and Recovery Training

  • Emphasizes self-empowerment and evidence-based techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing.
  • Offers both in-person and online meetings.
  • Centered Recovery Programs offer in-person SMART Recovery meetings on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month in our Roswell facility at 6:15 pm.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety: Save Our Selves (SOS)

  • Secular alternative to traditional 12-step programs. 
  • Emphasizes self-reliance, personal responsibility, and peer support, without needing a higher power or spiritual beliefs.
  • Meetings are held in various locations including community centers, libraries, and other public spaces. Meeting locations are found on the SOS website or by contacting local chapters.

Women for Sobriety (WFS)

  • Support group specifically designed for women in recovery. 
  • Focuses on empowering women to develop self-esteem, positive thinking patterns, and coping strategies to overcome addiction.
  • WFS meetings are available in some communities and may be held in community centers, women’s shelters, or other suitable venues. 
  • Additionally, WFS offers online meetings for those unable to attend in person.

LifeRing Secular Recovery

  • Secular and abstinence-based approach to addiction recovery. 
  • Emphasizes peer support, self-help, and personal growth, providing individuals with tools and strategies to maintain sobriety.
  • LifeRing meetings can be found in various locations worldwide, including community centers, churches, and online platforms. 
  • Meeting locations and times are typically listed on the LifeRing website or through local chapters.

Moderation Management (MM)

  • Support groups for individuals seeking to moderate their alcohol consumption rather than abstain completely.
  • Provide education, peer support, and strategies for responsible drinking.
  • MM meetings are available in some communities and may be held in community centers or other public venues. 
  • Additionally, MM offers online meetings for those unable to attend in person.

Recovery Community Recovery is possible Centered Recovery Georgia

What does Centered have in common with 12-step recovery centers?

Centered Recovery Programs is an outpatient, non-12-step, mindfulness-based recovery program for those looking for an alternative path! Although our educational curriculum is not based on the foundations of 12 steps, we offer our clients the structured experience of awareness of thought and intention in our lives through real-time recovery. We offer the same support and individualized care for each of our clients, and we have a deep understanding of addiction, behavior, and thinking. Also, we offer addiction support groups for our clients through SMART Recovery for an extra layer of support! All in all, we are here for our clients, regardless of the path that they take. We encourage all of our clients to have the freedom of choice in their treatment. So, are you ready to take charge of your recovery?

Visit Centered Recovery Programs rehab treatment today and embark on your journey towards sobriety. Call us today at 800-556-2966 to speak with an admissions counselor!

Written by Jennifer Lopes, BS Psy