Home addiction Overcoming Addiction–Why A Non 12 Step May Work Better For You

Overcoming Addiction–Why A Non 12 Step May Work Better For You

written by Guest Blogger February 25, 2014

Are you addicted to food? Video games? Shopping? Baking or cooking? How about reading, writing, surfing the web, work, porn, gambling, cigarettes, pot, alcohol… notice how I started with the more socially-acceptable addictions? We can be addicted to anything, and so I’m pleased to present today’s guest post by Saint Jude Retreats who offer a different kind of addiction cure. 

There is a ton of controversy surrounding one word: addiction, but what is an addiction? Is addiction a genetic disorder, a brain disease, or a choice? For years, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has ruled the addiction world as the leading “cure” for a substance use problems. However, AA has an extremely low success rate of about 5%. While many people choose this option of treatment because it’s free, non-12 steps have been proven to be more effective.

AA is referenced constantly on TV and film, which often focuses on social and economical problems related to drug or alcohol addiction. While AA is often promoted as extremely popular, it is not the only form of help available to a substance user.

Many people can moderately use alcohol or even drugs without becoming addicted, so what makes the difference in those that have a difficult time stopping? The answer is choice. Whether we would like to admit it or not, there is always a choice in regards to alcohol or drug use. While the non-12 step non-treatment model works for many, it is sometimes hard for people to come to terms with the fact that an addict can be empowered rather than victimized.

In fact, an “addict” is in control of their behaviors, actions and choices at all times. However, programs such as AA teach quite the opposite. By digging more deeply into the practices of AA one would have to question if this type of support group is causing more harm than good.

Here are a few reasons why AA can cause harm:

AA has no solution for substance use besides the factor of faith. AA does not have a process in place for a substance user to reevaluate their life, thus leaving them in a constant state of using substance to fix their problems. AA is extremely religious based and every one of the 12 steps includes certain kind of belief in a higher power.

In contrast, a non-12 step program does not base its solution on religious beliefs but rather on their philosophies and science based research of self change and empowerment.

The AA program is focused on powerlessness. A big part of AA is making a substance user essentially admit that they are unable to control themselves around alcohol or drugs. This only instills fear rather than promotes the fact that addiction can be overcome.

Non-12 step programs focus on the fact that change is possible and at any point a person can stop drinking or using drugs. When a substance user is provided with confidence it gives them the ability to make productive choices for their future, rather than resorting to substance use.

Another damaging idea created by AA is that relapse is expected and is considered a normal part of recovery. This is mainly due to the fact that our society believes that addiction is a brain disease. The idea of substance use being caused by an involuntary disease takes full responsibility off of the person using substance. It gives the substance user the ability to blame their disease instead of getting to the root of their drug or alcohol use through a permanent solution.

By reiterating that relapse is expected, this now gives the substance user an excuse to drink or get high again. If a substance user truly believes they are expected to use they will accept this behavior internally and use, regardless of the outcome. Finding a program that offers a permanent solution rather than endless recovery, has been proven to help substance users quit substance long-term.

Every person’s journey to sobriety is different. There is simply no cookie-cutter solution for becoming and remaining sober besides taking responsibility for any and all decisions and behaviors. While AA blames alcohol and drug overuse on the disease of addiction, non-12 steps or alternatives to rehab and treatment, focus on choice, empowerment, and moving beyond self-limiting behavior. Through positive reinforcement and confidence, every person has the power to stop using substance if they desire.

About the Author

The following is a guest post by Saint Jude Retreats, a non-12 step non-treatment educational program that concentrates on self-directed positive neuroplastic change and positive self-change as an alternative to traditional alcohol and drug treatment.

This non-12 step program to controlling addiction sounds right to me. How about you? Please share your opinions in the comment section!

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lovinglife52 March 7, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I thought this was a really good article highlighting many of the things that make AA so inefficient. I was troubled by the disease theory, the relapsing and the religious side and looked for alternatives after spending an unhappy period in AA. It is certainly not suitable for everyone.
I have found CBT methods have really worked for myself and others and I have not been to an AA meeting for over 6 years and certainly have not had a drink. I felt much stronger very soon after having the courage to leave AA and work with a good counsellor.

Head Health Nutter March 14, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Glad you liked the article, lovinglife52! I tried AA a few times myself and their philosophy didn’t sit well with me. I couldn’t put my finger on all the reasons at the time, I just knew I had more power than what it felt like they were telling me. When I read up on this non-12 step program, I requested an article from St Jude’s so we could learn a little more. I agree with you, they did a superb job explaining the differences between the programs!


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