When deciding the proper treatment program and plan in relation to addiction it is important to be aware of the myriad of options available in this day and age.  There are the traditional twelve step programs and there are non twelve step programs. Many individuals will find the that one of these two types of recovery programs resonates more with his or her worldview.

Twelve step programs refer to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). They also encompass groups that are more specifically targeted to one’s drug of choice, such as Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous…etc. The twelve step model started with AA, in 1938, by a man named Bill Wilson. These types of recovery programs most commonly place great emphasis on spirituality. With each of the twelve steps, God is referred to as the higher power, which is heavily relied upon to help an individual remain sober. An integral part of twelve step programs is the notion that individuals must admit that he or she is powerless over his or her addiction. In twelve step recovery programs, it is implied that the addict has a moral defect, and he or she must acknowledge and repair this through his or her recovery process.

The twelve step recovery program is currently used by close to seventy-five percent of substance abuse treatment centers in America. Though there is a plethora of success with individuals who commit to and follow a twelve step recovery plan, this type of recovery does not necessarily suit everyone. Akin to the uniqueness of one’s addiction and nuanced behaviors surrounding his or her addiction, one’s recovery process will also be unique. Shifting away from the traditional twelve step model, there are now non twelve step recovery programs that are available.

Non twelve step recovery, unlike the twelve step model (following an approach which originated eighty years ago) will shift its model and adapt with new and prudent addiction research. There are many different types of non twelve step programs. Some examples can include, Buddhist informed recovery, Self Management for Addiction Recovery (SMART), LifeRing Secular Recovery…etc. Non twelve step recovery models focus on self-reliance, the expansion of knowledge, and self-empowerment.

Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist informed recovery method. It places great emphasis on mindfulness-based addiction recovery achieved through ancient Buddhist philosophy. One fundamental difference from the twelve step method, is that the Refuge Recovery, Buddhist informed recovery, utilizes a nontheistic approach. An integral part of Refuge Recovery, Buddhist informed recovery, is meditation. This method uses eight steps to help an individual through recovery. These steps are as follows: understanding, intention, communication/community, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness/meditation, concentration. Each of these steps are intended to be practiced simultaneously. As a Buddhist based recovery program, the four core principles practiced at Refuge Recovery are mindfulness, compassion, forgiveness and generosity.

Self Management for Addiction Recovery (SMART) is another type of a non twelve step recovery method. Through SMARTs four-point program, individuals are able to create a uniquely tailored recovery program. The four components are as follows: building and maintaining motivation, coping with urges, managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and living a balanced life. SMART regularly integrates new scientific and psychological research into its method as it becomes available.

LifeRing Secular Recovery focuses on the individual and his or her unique needs. The recovery process is explored by people who share their own experiences with other individuals who are also in recovery. The primary focus for the LifeRing Secular Recovey method is one’s current life. Individuals are not required to delve into his or her past. Instead, people are meant to connect to one another as sober individuals, with the intention of gaining strength from each other’s sober life experiences. The LifeRing Secular Recovery method also does not place emphasis on a higher power, like that of a traditional twelve step method. Instead, this non twelve step method of recovery focuses first and foremost on an individual’s ability to overcome his or her addiction, relying heavily on self-empowerment.

Individuals in recovery may find one method to work best immediately, or may have to try out a couple of different methods. There are benefits to both the traditional twelve step model and any of the non twelve step recovery programs. An individual must decide what best suits his or her needs and go with it. Any type of recovery program, be it a non twelve step model or a twelve step model, has the same goal: to help an individual learn to maintain his or her sobriety.

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