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Are There Alternatives 12-Step Programs?

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD By November 26, 2018

The term ‘12 Step Program’ refers to organizations like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) which center around a literal 12-steps to achieve sobriety. The system is a combination of community help from others who are trying to or have recovered, which helps to gain trust from those new to the program and is combined with spiritual but non-religious elements generally referred to as a ‘higher power’.

The basic idea is that admission to one’s own self that they do not have control over their substance use and that a ‘higher power’, whether it be of a religious nature or not, can help them sustain lifelong sobriety. However, this approach is not always successful or appealing for everyone. Even the idea of spiritual aspects involved with the treatment can be off-putting to someone with deep emotional stress and depression underpinning their addictive behaviors.

 

Alternatives to these kinds of rehabilitation frameworks exist. Here are a few examples:

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is an organization and research group with a network that assists members with becoming and remaining sober. It has some similarities to AA in how it achieves this by introducing a network of peers for personal motivation to maintain sobriety in the face of adversity, but is delivered in a more modern and web-centric manner in some respects. Meetings are free to attend, though donations are encouraged, and typically involve discussions and group sessions involving one of the 4 core points of treatment. Some groups assign homework to keep the thought of sobriety conscious for members to help with minimizing relapse.

 

Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction is an approach to substance abuse that is controversial in that the goal isn’t always full sobriety, but to reduce the risky behaviors that surround substance abuse to manageable level. Some include groups like ‘Moderation Management’ which aims it’s efforts at those who are beginning to exhibit signs of addictive alcohol use but before addiction has fully developed. By intervening before the addiction becomes a problem, the group’s goals of preventing addiction are the goal rather than treating addiction that’s already causing harm to the person. Most harm reduction methods, though, do work in a more addiction-treatment way.

 

Dual Diagnosis

Discovery InstituteDual diagnosis is a way of determining if addiction is caused by another underlying issue or not and allows for both the substance abuse and underlying reasons one might have turned to use in the first place to be treated. It is suggested that relapses tend to occur due to undiagnosed depression and anxiety that lead to drug or alcohol use to begin with. Dual diagnosis goals are to minimize the possibility that an underlying issue with a person will result in relapse after the addiction is treated.

Centers like Discovery New Jersey offer dual diagnosis and tailor treatment to each person as an individual. Contact us today to learn more

 

Article Reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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