One question asked commonly in the recovery world is: Are there other ways to get clean and commit to long-term sobriety than involving yourself in and working a 12-Step-based program like Alcoholics Anonymous?
There is much scrutiny in the eyes of many alcoholics and addicts who are trying to get sober who feel that A.A. or any other 12-Step-based program just doesn’t work for them and are told that if they want to become and stay sober, they must commit to it because nothing else will work.
Although it has been proven time and time again that A.A. and working the 12-Steps does work and is preferable for almost all alcoholics and addicts, some people—though the number may be small—find that other forms of treatment and long-term recovery might be more beneficial to them. Thomas McLellan, PhD, CEO of the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia, said, “A more consumer-oriented approach would be to offer different options. This would get more people into treatment and keep them longer.”
When first getting sober in a residential treatment facility, most of the time spent there is sitting in group sessions and doing group activities. The main word there is “group,” and many have said that they would prefer more individual therapy rather than being part of a collection of individuals participating in therapy together. Rehabs often hold 12-Step meetings at night and are mandatory for all patients. Some people find that, when being forced to go to something that they don’t find helpful, it makes them more defiant about the recovery process.
Carrie G. said of an exclusive celebrity rehab, “I let them know that I hated AA meetings and told the tech that it wasn’t working for me. I felt punished, and was told that if I wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t succeed. I was made to feel like there wasn’t a lot of hope.”
There are other approaches to getting clean and staying sober without using A.A. In a 2009 review of psychological studies published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, researchers found that, when clients were able to carry out their preferred form of treatment, about 60 percent showed greater improvement when compared with clients not given a choice.
As prominent addiction psychologist William Miller, PhD, said, “Those who choose from among options tend to ‘own’ what they’ve chosen and stay with it. So why would you not let clients choose? If one thing isn’t working, you can try something else.”
- Fletcher, Anne M. “When Addiction Treatment is One-Size-Fits-All.” Psychology Today. Sussex Directories, Inc., 15 Feb. 2013. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.