14 Common Misperceptions About Non 12 Step Rehab

As one of the first rehabs that began offering non 12 step treatment, we’ve been around long enough to hear just about every misperception out there regarding this non-traditional approach to treatment. If you’ve been searching for addiction treatment, or have gone to a non 12 step rehab program, you’ve likely come across some of these misperceptions yourself. Below, we give you the top 14 misunderstandings and, hopefully, set the record straight.

image of swan as a symbol for non 12 step misperceptions1. Non 12 step rehabs are anti-AA/NA.

Not true!  Non 12 step is in favor of options, and powerlessness based approaches are an important and helpful option for some.

2. Non 12 step rehabs tell “alcoholics” to drink.

Nonsense!  Self-empowering approaches, as a general rule, don’t tell anyone what to do.

3. Non 12 step rehabs are moderation programs.

Negative.  Non 12 step programs are often abstinence-based, just not abstinence-only.

4. Non 12 step rehabs are led and attended by a bunch of God-hating atheists.

It is true that many non 12 step groups do not emphasize a higher power, but they are also open to and supportive of people who choose to incorporate a higher power into their recovery.

5. Non 12 step rehabs are all the same.

Most rehabs that claim to offer non 12 step programs end up being a let-down.  The “programs” often end up being one SMART meeting a week and the rest is much like any other run of the mill rehab.

6. Non 12 step rehabs don’t really understand addiction.

On the contrary, non 12 step practitioners are frequently masters and doctoral level therapists who understand that addiction is an adaptive effort to cope with underlying issues.  Highly trained professionals possess the clinical skill set to treat the underlying issues that often fuel addictive behaviors (e.g. depression, anxiety, trauma).

7. Non 12 step rehabs don’t work.

The treatment modalities often implemented in non 12 step rehabs (e.g. CBT, SMART Recovery, DBT, Motivational Interviewing), have a strong evidence-base.

8. Non 12 step rehabs believe addiction is a choice, not a disease.

The perspective on this controversial issue varies greatly from person to person, and rehab to rehab, regardless of the steps.  Non 12 step, self-empowering approaches emphasize choice as the area of focus for change, but nobody I know believes people make a conscious choice to ruin their lives on drugs.  The 12 steps also acknowledge the role of choice in the third step (“Made a decision”), and in the frequent use of the serenity prayer.

9. Insurance won’t cover non 12 step rehabs.

It is true that most non 12 step rehabs are out of network and will cost more, but good insurance plans will cover treatment at non 12 step rehabs.

10. There are no non 12 step peer support groups like AA.

While AA/NA are definitely the most accessible, non 12 step groups like SMART Recovery, LifeRing, and Women for Sobriety are becoming increasingly well-known and available for those seeking options in their efforts to change.

11. Non 12 step rehabs coddle addicts.

Well, wounds do tend to heal better with attentive care rather than cold harshness.  Non 12 step rehabs often strive to achieve a balance in helping people to acknowledge strengths and feel good about themselves while also identifying areas for improvement and growth.

12. Non 12 step rehabs push drugs on people.

Non 12 step rehabs do tend to be more open to maintenance medications like suboxone and methadone than abstinence-only approaches, but these options are explored in a collaborative way with each individual client to determine the best course of treatment for each person.

13. Non 12 step rehab is where people go when they’re in denial.

Most people I’ve worked with have no hesitation in acknowledging problems related to substance use.  People who go to non 12 step rehabs are frequently highly motivated to change but disheartened from multiple attempts to work a program that doesn’t fit them.

14. Non 12 step rehab is a scam.

The surgeon general’s report specifically advocated for individualized treatment over standardized programs.  All treatment approaches work for some people, the key is finding the right fit for each individual.

If you are interested in learning more about non 12 step addiction treatment, give us a call. We are here to help.