Non-12-Step Rehab Vs 12-Step Program


Non 12 Step Rehab & 12-Step Program: Overview Comparison

To begin, it is important to set the stage between what I consider to be non 12 step rehab treatment and 12-Step recovery. image222As the name implies, “Treatment”, in a rehabilitation setting, may consist of a clinical addiction treatment team including licensed therapists, medical doctors, various types of community support groups, and more. We can typically think of addiction treatment as focused services the client is receiving from the outside concentrating on their inward perceptions, sobriety, well-being, and more. However, recovery must come from within the seeking individual and work its way outward. Recovery from drugs and alcohol is an important personal journey. When someone is personally motivated for their recovery, another common path aside from attending a non-12-step treatment program is through the 12 step model and community.

12-Step Rehab Treatment Programs: Overview of Differences

Some people consider 12-step recovery programs to be more of a traditional or, for some, even an older model of addiction treatment. Commonly, rehabilitation centers with a 12-step program may have their clients work alcoholics anonymous steps 1 through 3 while actively engaged at the rehab facility. 12-step focused rehab centers will typically make it mandatory to attend 12-step support group as well as obtain a sponsor through their alcoholics anonymous support community. In addition, there is a common perception around 12-step focused programs that they tend to be more confrontational, such as taking a more stern stance. An example of this kind of communication might be similar to:

“You have a problem, you must do this”


“You have to do this or you’ll relapse”

Many people find that 12 step treatment programs are more direct and push people into a similar, strict model of recovery and treatment. I have personally heard stories of some staff at 12-step focused rehab centers say things like:

“If you don’t do 90 meetings in 90 days we will see you back here.


“If you don’t work the steps then nothing will change.”

imgGenerally, 12-step focused rehabilitation facilities can be blunter and more forceful towards the client’s recovery, such as requiring and ensuring a person attend their self-help support groups. At times, forcing someone to attend self-help focused services and groups may actually be seen by some as being counter-productive for their recovery. There is an important aspect of an individual’s journey in recovery possessing a pure sense of surrender and acceptance taking place in identifying with being an alcoholic or addict. This is not to diminish what these types of programs do for people because they do very important, life-saving work with people. Some people do better in the 12-step recovery model and environment.

Non-12-Step Rehab Programs: Overview of Differences

Non-12-step rehab addiction programs tend to have a more fluid, client-centered approach to recovery. Generally, non-12-step programs will not make your substance abuse treatment a requirement to attend a certain amount of support groups or obtain a sponsor in a certain number of days within the client’s recovery journey. This is not to say that they do not strongly encourage various forms of outside self-help support groups in order to build a strong support system outside of their immediate treatment environment. However, non-12-step programs understand that when a client is forced to do something resentment can build up and patterns of negative emotions may become associated with support groups and the individual’s overall recovery. Non-12-step treatment can be more open to and be more accepting of the client’s personal treatment goals they set for themselves. Treatment requirements are not forced upon the individual, there are no requirements to attend meetings, and clients are not accustomed to identifying themselves as an addict or an alcoholic. Non 12 step rehab will work to meet the client eye to eye; where the client is currently expressing themselves to be perceptually, spiritually, and mentally, and start from there. Non 12 step treatment is not a “cookie cutter” model or structure, but rather a unique journey leading many people to the same result of long-lasting recovery. As non-12-step treatment is at times very open-ended, many people may think of the client-centered approach when thinking about a non-12-step rehab program.

Non-12-Step Rehab Programs and 12-Step Recovery Model: The Similarities

The principles that are taught at non-12-step rehab programs and 12-step focused recovery models is the SAME. Within 12-step treatment, they will talk about various principles that create behavior change such as, Honesty, Hope, Faith, Courage, and so on… Within non12step programs, the same principles are being taught to clients, but different approaches and methods are utilized to do so. Living a life free of substance abuse requires a shift in your mental, emotional, and spiritual perception. This perceptual shift takes place at both non 12 step and 12 step focused rehabilitation centers, and the goal of these centers are ultimately the same. Both types of treatment centers discuss the importance of the ongoing recovery process. For individuals who find themselves to be 12-step resistant, it is important for them to still find a community and long-term forms of support toward their recovery. The 12-step model implements these aspects through the 12-step fellowship. In the end, the goals of non-12-step programs and the 12-step model are ultimately the same but vary in their approach. Being exposed to a combination of the two approaches to recovery can be extremely beneficial for people. Every person is unique and finding a balance of what works for you in recovery is really the only approach to take.