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Is There More to Recovery than the 12 Steps?


Addiction recovery and rehabilitation is a complex process. There are many moving parts and no two clients are the same. Researchers are continually learning more about addiction treatment and prevention as well as how it impacts the body and brain. At the same time, addiction treatment centers in California and across the United States are also adjusting their approaches and services accordingly.

For decades the 12-step approach has been a pillar in drug addiction treatment. Millions of people have been implementing the 12 steps in their recovery and turning their lives around. It is very effective for some people and helps them to stay on track and prevent relapse while promoting healing and growth. There are 12-step support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) throughout the world.

However, not everyone finds the same inspiration and motivation in the 12 steps. They have a harder time connecting with a higher power and saying that they are powerless to their addiction. Forcing them to conform to an approach that they don’t believe in can impede their progress in recovery. Therefore, some treatment facilities like Chapters Capistrano also offer non-12-step approaches to addiction rehab.

Finding Your Way Outside of the 12 Steps

The 12-step approach can be very beneficial in addiction recovery, but it is not for everyone. Having the opportunity to also engage in alternative approaches to treatment can help clients to feel more empowered and equip them with other tools for recovery and relapse prevention. Whereas the 12-step approach focuses on a higher power, alternatives often do not have the same spiritual undertones. They view addiction and recovery from other perspectives. Some alternatives include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is an evidence-based practice that has been widely studied. It focuses on the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Clients work on changing their thought patterns into healthier, more positive expectations. They restructure their beliefs to combat negative thoughts and take a more constructive approach to their life.
  • SMART Recovery: SMART (Self-Management And Recovery Training) Recovery is also based in science and takes a four-pronged approach to recovery. Clients work on motivation, coping with urges, managing their thoughts and behaviors, and achieving a more balanced lifestyle. It is a self-empowering technique and uses self-directed change. There are support group meetings, but unlike AA, there are no sponsors.
  • Dual Diagnosis: Dual diagnosis treatment addresses both substance use disorders and mental health disorders simultaneously. It is a more comprehensive approach that focuses not only on addiction, but also the mental health component. There are often diverse therapies and modalities used in dual diagnosis treatment that are tailored to clients’ individual needs and diagnoses.

These are not the only non 12-step approaches. There are also programs such as Stages of Changes, Women for Sobriety, LifeRing, and Moderation Management. An addiction rehabilitation facility may incorporate one or more alternative approaches into their treatment plans.

Discovering What Works Best for Your Recovery

Being exposed to both 12-step and non-12-step models can be beneficial in your recovery. This can allow you to explore the concepts and practices of each and determine what works best for you and your situation. You may find that you really relate to the 12-steps and want to follow this approach. Or, you may decide on an alternative. Still other people use a hybrid approach and combine elements of each in their recovery. They customize it to fit with their needs and goals.

There is no blanket solution for drug addiction or alcoholism. Everyone faces their own challenges and is impacted differently. It is important to find an Orange County rehab center that is flexible and creates a personalized treatment plan with your needs in mind. When you have more connection and buy-in to the program, it can be more conducive to your recovery.

At Chapters Capistrano, clients are invited to participate in AA and NA support groups, but are not required to do so. Throughout treatment they engage in a variety of individual and group therapies and counseling sessions and build a support system and strategies that meet their individual needs. Clients may want to attend a few meetings to get a feel for things before making a choice, or they may decide it is or isn’t for them. What’s important is that they have a strong system of support and people to connect with who understand what they are going through.

Whether you are looking for a 12-step or non-12-step approach to addiction recovery, Chapters Capistrano is here to support you along each step of the way. Our comprehensive addiction treatment programs incorporate an array of therapies and activities to promote recovery and prevent relapse. To learn more about how you can benefit from this personalized approach, contact Chapters Capistrano at 888-973-0230. It’s not too late to start a new chapter in your life.