Traditional 12-step recovery programs are possibly the best-known form of substance abuse rehab although it is not an approach that works for everyone. Known largely as a faith-based system of recovery support, 12 step programs are, in part, based on the belief that a person’s religious or spiritual conviction holds the key to overcoming addiction.
The 12 step recovery program that is used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) was founded in the 1930s by two men who were devout Christians struggling with alcoholism. They discovered that their mutual belief in a Higher Power enabled them to support and motivate each other to use their spiritual connection to promote sobriety.
The 12 step recovery program requires individuals to accept the moral consequences of substance abuse and apologize for their behavior while addicted. The non 12 step view now taken by the majority of rehab centers is that addiction is not a moral weakness, but a chronic illness that can be treated.
How Holistic Rehab Differs from 12-Step Recovery Programs
The most significant difference between the holistic approach to rehab and that of a traditional 12-step rehab program is that there is no religious or spiritual component. Not everyone subscribes to a particular religion or aligns themselves with a given philosophy and if they require treatment for substance abuse, the program must resonate with their personal beliefs.
Secular rehab takes many forms and one of those is holistic or complementary therapy. Holistic rehab takes an entirely different of addiction, believing that a person is not defined by their drug or alcohol use. Holistic medicine has been used for around 5,000 years and many of the principles have been refined and adjusted to suit a modern-day context.
In holistic rehab, the individual is placed in central focus so that their unique needs are met in therapy. 12 step rehab centers, on the other hand, encourages people to join a group of others to work through the process systematically and to a specific format. Non 12 step rehab centers recognize that everyone is different and has their own reasons for becoming dependent or addicted to substances. Holistic rehab seeks to heal the mind, body, and spirit individually so that a person’s overall well-being is significantly improved.
Holistic Therapies Used in Non 12 Step Treatment Centers
People looking for a secular treatment program find the therapies available in holistic rehab extremely effective. This is because there is no need to have any particular spiritual belief system to get the benefits of holistic therapies. What holistic non 12 step rehab program focuses on is healing the damage done to a person’s physical, mental and emotional health as a consequence of substance abuse. The only similarity between this approach and that of 12 step rehab program is that patients are required to stay sober while receiving treatment.
The kind of holistic therapies that are beneficial in substance abuse rehab include:
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is an ancient practice that encourages people to live in the moment. Due to the complex nature of addiction and the mind-altering properties of most substances and alcohol, an individual’s mind becomes clouded. Mindfulness restores mental clarity by focusing on deep breathing and relaxing individual body parts in order to silence inner dialogue. Mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga help to restore calm in an individual’s mind and are very effective tools for relapse prevention in recovery.
Physical Fitness and Nutrition
The majority of good non 12 step treatment centers offer a physical fitness program to counter the effects of substance abuse on the body. Exercising releases endorphins which flood the individual with pleasurable sensations in the same way drugs and alcohol do. Improving fitness levels also strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of illness and disease.
Nutrition is an important aspect of physical health and a holistic treatment program will generally provide some form of nutritional education. When the human body is deprived of essential vitamins and minerals for a period of time it can have serious consequences for their health. A good and balanced diet that’s boosted where necessary with vitamin supplements combined with a regular exercise program has been shown to boost recovery outcomes.
Many non 12 step treatment centers offer patients therapy that is delivered through experiences such as outdoor activities, excursions, animal-assisted or adventure-based therapy. Experiential therapy is a relatively new approach to addressing the root causes of substance abuse and any underlying mental illness.
Experiential therapy places people in very different environments than they are used to and presents them with varied situations, circumstances, problems, and challenges they have to work through as part of a team or on their own. This encourages them to discover their strengths and weaknesses and also improves social skills as they communicate with others during the activity.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Kind of Rehab for You
Addiction is a very personal illness and one that not only affects the individual but those close to them. It is also a complex and often chronic condition that will continue to carry a high risk of relapse for the rest of the person’s life. This does not mean that they are doomed to be unhappy and unable to enjoy themselves socially again. However, it does mean that individuals have to accept that if they want to be healthy, they have to turn their backs on substances forever. This makes it incredibly important for individuals to find a rehab that’s the right fit. For an increasing number of people, this is not the traditional 12 step approach.
When choosing a rehab program it is worth taking a look at life before substance abuse and finding a treatment path that is aligned with how you would like to live in the future. If perhaps you are a religious person and wish to return to a particular lifestyle that encompasses your faith, 12 step is the best choice. If however you place less emphasis on religion and spirituality but want to find other routes to sobriety, there are plenty of non 12 step rehab centers to choose from.