Since 1939, the 12-step program has been a favored means of treating not only drug abuse and alcoholism but compulsion and addiction as well. This program posits that recovery is linear, with no room to veer off the beaten path. That’s completely unlike the pillars that form the foundation for sobriety at a holistic recovery center.
Holistic detox and treatment centers treat enrollees like the human beings they are. As a human being, each enrollee has their own complex background and set of problems that landed them where they are today. Whether these problems contributed to their addiction or not, no two people are alike.
Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is a personal journey. It requires more than the cookie cutter mentality of the 12-step program for success and lasting sobriety. Those who have tried and failed at the 12-step program are one of many. By taking a holistic approach to sobriety instead, it’s possible to create lasting change without feelings of guilt, blame, or religious indoctrination.
The Path of the 12-Step Program
At the time it was conceived, back in the late 1930s, the 12-step program was seen as revolutionary. It still is used today in all forms of rehabilitation.
The 12-step program can induce feelings of lack of control, guilt, and a sense of having to atone for one’s addiction. The first step involves the person admitting they have no control over their compulsion or addiction. Additionally, the 12-step program requires submission to a higher power, adding a religious element to the treatment program.
The next phase of the program is all about doing some soul searching to uncover the mistakes they have made while in the grips of their addiction. It’s then their responsibility to atone, correcting their behavior with others they have hurt. They also have a responsibility to act as a mentor or sponsor for future AA members who become part of the program.
While undoubtedly the 12-step program worked for many people since its beginnings, it surely wasn’t successful for everyone. That continues to this very day.
The Psychological Effects of Veering Off-Course
In previous years, holistic drug and alcohol treatment was much more of a well-kept secret than it is today. If someone became addicted to drugs or alcohol, they’d feel like the 12-step program was their only option to get sober.
What if they didn’t believe in all the elements, especially the religious ones?
With so few rehabilitation options available at the time, addicts likely had very little choice but to follow along. They’d have to ignore their discomfort with the religious aspects, even though they are a major part of the first few steps of the 12-step program.
The guilt often associated with 12-step programs is a feeling that many people struggling with addiction want to avoid. When the unsettling feeling of guilt comes up during rehabilitation, the patient may be further discouraged to continue treatment. If the very thing that is supposed to get them sober induces further negative feelings, it can lead to a very complicated set of circumstances, all of which might continue the substance abuse.
Failing the traditional 12-step program isn’t exactly unheard of. In a 2014 article in The Atlantic, retired Harvard Medical School psychology professor Dr. Lance Dodes said that, according to research he has gathered, that only about five to 10 percent of those who enroll in a 12-step program like those offered at AA will stay clean and sober. Dodes mentions that that stat translates to roughly one out of 15 enrollees successfully graduating the program. That’s a suprisingly low rate of success.
Despite that, 12-step programs continue to be touted as a useful means of treating addiction to drugs and alcohol in the 21st century. Dodes mentioned that there were about 60,000 12-step groups in the United States as of 2013 and that more than a million people went to the meetings. This is even with such a low success rate.
The Rise of Holistic Drug Treatment and Alcohol Treatment
Today, those who want to attend a drug detox center, or an alcohol detox center can go the holistic route. More and more, today’s society is seeking out natural means of treating their ailments. That’s why holistic treatments like nutritional therapy, meditation and yoga, and acupuncture have risen in popularity.
A holistic recovery center may use many of the same modalities, such as nutritional therapy, meditation, yoga, and more. According to 2009 research from Pastoral Psychology, when detox and treatment centers and other drug treatment centers were contacted for a survey, it was discovered that more than half (58 percent) offered holistic care.
It should be noted that not all these treatment centers specialized solely in holistic care. Many of them still featured parts or the entirety of the 12-step program as part of their recovery methods. While holistic care is about focusing on all parts of a person, including their spiritual, mental, and physical health, if the guilt and negativity associated with 12-step programs are still present, holistic care cannot be as effective.
Understanding That Recovery Is a Personal Journey
Just to reiterate what we said in the intro, recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is not a linear path. No two people will have identical experiences when at a recovery center.
That’s because there are so many factors that can influence the way a person reacts to drug/alcohol treatment, such as:
- What their upbringing was like
- Their social status
- The state of their relationship with their family, friends, spouse, and children
- Their job or state of employment
- Their history with mental and/or physical illness
- How long they’ve been using
- If they’ve tried rehab in the past and failed at it
- If they abuse more than one substance
The list goes on and on. Twelve-step programs very rarely take most of the above factors into account. That gives people suffering from addiction little if any responsibility over their own lives and addictions. If the enrollee fails, it must be because they didn’t work hard enough at the program.
That’s likely one major reason why these programs have such a low rate of success. When someone enrolls in a drug or alcohol treatment program, they’re seeking help for their individual problems. When they’re not treated as an individual, the chances for success shrink.
Think of it this way. Imagine 10 sick people go to see a doctor. Some of them have a cold while others have strep throat. If the doctor gives everyone a cold medicine, will it treat some of the patients? Yes, but not all.
That’s what a 12-step program is like. It’s an assigned set of rules to follow that are applied to everyone regardless of fit.
A holistic recovery center is much more individualistic. The staff will get to know the patient not only as an enrollee but as a person, too. The modalities of the program include therapy, often one-on-one but sometimes in a group setting. It is important to connect with others who are recovering or have recovered from substance abuse issues. In that regard, 12-step programs do get it right.
Besides therapy and psychological care, an enrollee will also learn to rebuild their lives from the ground up. They’ll incorporate better nutrition and exercise into their daily routines, practice meditation, and mindfulness, and learn relaxation techniques through aromatherapy.
Holistic centers often offer an aftercare program as well. Rather than forcing graduated AA members to stay in touch with future graduates through a mentor/mentoree program, aftercare is different. The enrollee keeps in touch with the local recovered community.
Addiction is not something that can be controlled and tamed after X amount of days or meetings. That’s why some holistic recovery programs don’t restrict the amount of time an enrollee might stay. If they can graduate the program in 60 or 90 days, then that’s all the better. If they need longer inpatient care, this is also available.
Ditch the 12-Step Programs. Try Elevate Addiction Services Today
Those who are looking for detox and treatment centers for themselves or a loved one have come to the right place. At Elevate Addiction Services in North California, our holistic drug treatment and alcohol treatment is unmatched.
We’re a trusted drug detox center and alcohol detox center that has medically-trained staff available around the clock as enrollees manage their withdrawals. Instead of plying enrollees with more addictive drugs to deal with the withdrawal pain, we prefer holistic care for detox.
With two facilities, one in the gorgeous Lake Tahoe Basin and the other in the breathtaking Santa Cruz Mountains, Elevate Addiction Services encourages enrollees to explore the beauty of the natural world with our experiential therapy.
That’s just the start of what our enrollees participate in. We have a variety of activities available at either of our facilities, such as swimming, hiking, boating, yoga, CrossFit, volleyball, and basketball.
In the midst of this, we will also have a trained nutritionist guide our enrollees in healthier, more fulfilling eating decisions. With activities like music and art therapy, mindfulness, meditation, and aromatherapy, the spirit is fulfilled.
We do more than simply keep enrollees busy. Between our cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and other therapy modalities, we will discover the factors that have influenced an enrollee’s way of life and path to addiction.
With both inpatient and outpatient programs available, our main goal is the enrollee’s sobriety. We understand that the path to sobriety is a personal one and that some enrollees need more time than others.
Then there’s our aftercare program. We touched on this before, but we must reiterate the importance of aftercare. This gives the enrollee the tools they need to stay sober even once they return to their home life away from the facility. They’ll have their very own post-treatment plan that’s tailored to them and their unique needs.
Those who are tired of 12-step programs don’t have to enter another one fruitlessly. At Elevate Addiction Services, we favor a non-12-step approach. Instead, we follow the SMART Recovery program, which includes six steps: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and graduation. There are no notions of failure and no mandatory religious implications, either.
To learn more about our drug or alcohol detox center as well as our non-12-step program modalities, contact us at Elevate Addiction Services today.