12-Step or Non-12-Step Recovery Programs: Which is Right for You?

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Various strategies are used in programs that assist individuals in overcoming their drug addiction. Some treatment programs follow the 12-step therapy model that organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous have established, while others look for recovery facilities that do not. Interestingly, some addiction recovery groups offer 12-step and non-12-step recovery programs.

What Are 12-Step and Non-12-Step Programs?

Addiction therapy is often delivered in the style of a 12-step program, in which recovering addicts are urged to seek counsel and support from outside sources. Because it is primarily founded on the belief that to recover, we must recognize a power higher than ourselves, and because it regards spirituality as an essential component of the healing process, these approaches are effective.

Non-12-step programs are an alternative to the typical 12-step method of recovery. The major purpose of these programs is to convince people to stop blaming external causes for their difficulties and start accepting responsibility for their actions.

12-Step Treatment Programs

Addiction treatment programs based on the 12 Steps may be seen as a kind of mutual aid society for those suffering from drug abuse and behavioral addictions. These programs use a systematic approach with 12 stages to help addicts recover.

Who Uses the 12-Step Recovery Model?

Several organizations utilize a 12 Step method to assist their members in overcoming drug dependency. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are popular groups that use the 12-step program. These groups have two offshoots: Gamblers Anonymous and Co-Dependents Anonymous, which help individuals recover from gambling and codependency, respectively, and Heroin Anonymous and Marijuana Anonymous, which focus on substance addiction.

How Do 12-Step Recovery Programs Work?

12-step programs are more akin to peer support groups and self-help organizations than to established forms of drug addiction treatment. Meetings of AA and NA are open to the public, and there is no charge for this service. 12-step programs may be joined on one’s initiative or at the advice of a friend. Others are introduced to the 12-step addiction treatment method via 12-step facilitation therapy.

This approach to addiction therapy is founded on the ideas and practices of 12-Step organizations. The following three concepts are given the greatest thought:


To do so, one must acknowledge that addiction is a chronic illness over which the afflicted person has little control and that overcoming drug usage requires more than willpower.


This entails surrendering one’s will to a greater power, whether or not that power is religious, and being open to instruction and support from treatment experts and other people working on their recovery.


This emphasizes that regular attendance at 12-Step meetings and activities and devotion to the program’s principles are required for success.

The primary purpose of 12-Step facilitation is to urge individuals to retain their current level of participation in the program and to consider enrolling in a 12-Step recovery program. Participating in a peer-to-peer support group during recovery is meant to boost the chances of long-term sobriety.

Is Recovery Possible Through the 12-Step Program?

Although the 12-Step method is not for everyone, it is widely agreed that involvement in peer support groups and aftercare programs, such as 12-Step meetings, may benefit long-term recovery.

Researchers observed that AA meeting participants had double the probability of abstinence as non-attendees and that frequent meeting attendance enhanced the likelihood of long-term sobriety. Regular meeting attendance has also been demonstrated to boost the chances of long-term sobriety by giving the recovering person structure and a feeling of belonging.

Non-12-Step Treatment Programs

Non-12-step groups provide addiction counseling and peer support to people who do not choose to engage in or disagree with the concepts of specific 12-step programs.

For example, the spiritual component of 12-Step sessions may induce anxiety and discomfort in certain individuals. Although 12-Step programs accept belief in any “higher power,” not only the conventional Christian view of God, they are also often seen as having religious overtones.

Who Uses Non-12-Step Recovery Programs?

Although 12-Step programs are popular, more addiction rehabilitation methods do not follow the same format. Many groups that do not adhere to the 12-Step paradigm recognize the need for peer support but do not strive to rely on a higher power.

How Do Non-12-Step Recovery Programs Work?

Non-12-step programs follow a different set of standards. These principles, which may be represented differently by various groups, are generalized as follows:


Consider the negative consequences of drug misuse and use them as motivation to make good changes. This is an essential element of getting well.

Personal Responsibility

At this time, the person must assume all responsibility for sobriety and recovery. Responsibility for one’s sobriety must be assumed deliberately rather than delegated to others.


Finding a good balance in one’s life necessitates prioritizing one’s physical well-being and actively participating in social situations where one may get emotional and social support from others.

Many programs exist outside the 12-step structure; their philosophies may differ greatly, but they always emphasize individual responsibility and community reinforcement.

Is Recovery Possible Through the Non-12-Step Program?

Success rates for non-Twelve-Step programs vary depending on the program’s characteristics and the clientele’s particular requirements. The peer support dynamic is the strength of these programs, as it is in 12-Step programs.

Many people in recovery mistakenly believe that 12-Step-based programs like AA and NA are their only alternatives for easily accessible and continuous peer support because of their broad diffusion. The 12-Step paradigm’s popularity leads to this misperception. The effectiveness of these programs, like any other kind of therapy or aftercare, depends on consistency.

What’s the Difference Between 12-Step and Non-12-Step Recovery Programs?

The focus on self-sufficiency distinguishes 12-Step from other types of addiction treatment programs. The 12-step program highlights that addiction is a sickness that people cannot overcome independently and that addicts must submit to a larger power to recover. Non-12-Step programs, on the other hand, emphasize individual action, with the solid belief that addicts can overcome their behaviors with the proper counseling and support.

Another significant difference between 12-step and non-12-step programs is their treatment approaches. Traditional 12-step programs often emphasize drug misuse as the fundamental issue. For anyone battling with drug misuse, the 12 steps provide a roadmap to recovery and spiritual enlightenment. The 12-step method’s central concept is that addiction is the source of all evil. Addicts may be able to change their addictions, according to this view, provided rehabilitation clinics address both the addictive behaviors and the underlying spiritual “hole in the soul.”

However, non-12-step programs adopt a somewhat different approach. It continues to believe that addiction and abuse are the issue’s root causes. However, it emphasizes the need to investigate the underlying issues scientifically. Individual addiction therapy, evidence-based treatments, and addressing the underlying issues that drive people to use drugs are often emphasized when treating clients in a non-12-step rehabilitation facility.

Get The Care & Support You Need

The motivation and circumstances of a particular person largely determine whether a 12-Step or non-12-Step treatment program is appropriate for them. Regardless of the program used, the most crucial aspect of addiction recovery is selecting a treatment plan tailored to the individual’s way of life and specific requirements.

At New Hope Healthcare, we offer comprehensive addiction therapy customized to each person’s requirements. Remember that recovering from addiction is possible, and there is hope, whatever the program you pick. Contact us today to get started at 865-800-0947

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