non 12-step rehab

What is a non 12-step rehab?

What is a non 12-step rehab? 

Roughly 18 million adults in the United States have a substance abuse disorder and close to 15 million struggle with an alcohol abuse disorder. For those who are willing to seek help, finding the right recovery program can be a daunting task. Most programs offer the traditional twelve step model of AA, but for those who have tried a traditional model and were unsuccessful, or for those who find the traditional model doesn’t fit their needs, there are other options. Non 12-step rehab programs are quickly gaining ground in 

Non 12-step rehab programs have the same purpose as traditional models: to help addicted individuals stop compulsive drug or alcohol seeking and abuse. However, many of these programs are science-based rather than based on a spiritual foundation, like Alcoholics Anonymous. Treatment includes residential and outpatient options, and some common alternative programs include SMART Recovery, Centered Recovery, and LifeRing. While the actual treatment program may differ, most include helping clients find the motivation to make a change in their life, identifying the factors in their life which may be contributing to their addiction issues, taking personal responsibility for their ongoing sobriety and health, and finding balance in their overall life to help support continued health. 

Is a non-12 step rehab effective? 

It can be incredibly difficult to gauge the effectiveness of a treatment program. Success rates are often based on personal reporting, and the definition of success can vary widely depending on the stated goals of the treatment program. For instance, the American Society of Addiction Medicine cites a 10% long term success rate with 12 step programs, but about 40% of AA clients drop out during their first year.

However, there are more and more studies coming about which test the efficacy of non 12 step recovery programs against the traditional 12 step model, such as the one published by Sarah Bowen, Katie Witkiewitz, and others in the National Institutes of Health. This study concluded that participants who participated in a non 12 step treatment, in this case a mindfulness based program, reported that they were much less likely to relapse to substances or alcohol than those who received traditional treatment, and among those who did relapse, the mindfulness based group relapsed for a shorter duration and intensity than those who received traditional treatment. This may be linked to the fact that one of the goals of mindfulness-based treatment is to help clients learn to monitor their own feelings, cravings, and behaviors, which has been shown to strengthen the ability to take action to stop a relapse before it might begin. 

This is not the only study that shows highly promising results, and results like this are part of why the treatment industry, doctors, and other experts are turning more and more to nontraditional recovery approaches to recommend to clients. So the short answer is, yes! A non-12 step recovery program delivered by a qualified team of professionals can be just as effective, if not more effective, than a 12 step program. 

What is a mindfulness-based recovery program? 

Mindfulness-based treatment programs, popularized by the MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, are on the rise. Clinicians have been using MBSR or forms of MBSR for their clients for anything from stress, anxiety, depression, marital issues, and more for a number of decades. For a long time, drug and alcohol treatment was just about getting clean and sober. Programs focused on drug abuse education and how to avoid triggers, how to stay clean, and how to move through life keeping substances or alcohol at arm’s length. It has been only in the past few decades that the industry as a whole has finally been able to accept that addiction rarely happens in a bubble—where the rest of a person’s life are healthy and balanced and the addiction is the only issue to work on. As the substance and alcohol treatment industry began to adopt a more holistic point of view in treatment, the link between stress and addiction was glaringly obvious. Thus, a need for programs like MBRP (mindfulness-based relapse prevention) and the Centered Recovery approach were born. 

Mindfulness-based recovery aims to help clients become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In this way, clients can have a sort of “advance warning system” when storms are brewing internally. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness in this way: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” These three elements combine to help clients not only see for themselves the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which may arise within them that may lead them to relapse, but to also stay grounded and not experience guilt or shame from them which may be, in many ways, just as harmful as acting on them. Mindfulness-based recovery views addiction itself non-judgmentally, and puts the focus on moving forward from addiction, understanding how the mind and thought process plays a role in creating or adding to stress it perceives, and using mindfulness to help clients attain at least a measure of balance—all of which helps clients notice when they are feeling “off balance”. Having this advance warning system then allows them the ability to choose how to act in a healthy, positive way, rather than having to react in the moment to stress, anxiety, anger, or depression—all of which can lead to relapse. 

If you’re interested in more information about how the Centered Recovery mindfulness-based program can help you or a loved one, call 800.556.2966 today to speak to one of our team!