Alternatives to Twelve Step Recovery

When the Twelve Steps Don’t Work?

For many people, the Twelve Steps can be life saving, but for millions of individuals, the Twelve Steps don’t work.
Unlike years past where the only, or nearly only kind of treatment available was based on the Twelve Steps or the Minnesota Model, there are a number of treatment options available for individuals and their family members who are looking for alternatives and opportunities to reduce their intake, or reduce the of countless consequences that sooner or later befall the individual who “takes too much”. Twelve Steps sometimes just don’t work.

Self-Help is helpful. Get on down to your local library and read all you can about substance abuse treatment. Any time a person seeks help for their substance use intake and educates themselves on what alcoholism and drug use does to the body is a good thing. Educate yourself and your family about the ill effects of substance issues. Go online and search for “alcohol addiction” or “substance abuse” or “legal weed” or “synthetic marijuana” or “mojo” or “crystal meth” or whatever it is you are using, or want to know about. Ask your local crisis  lines if there are free, or reduced costs support groups for people who are seeking help. Ask if there are counseling services that offer educational programs to help people in early, middle or late stage addiction. Sometimes clinics and hospitals have programs for people or know of programs that can be helpful. Often a frank discussion with your healthcare provider will bring insight, clarity and healthy options.

Harm Reduction Methods

Although many people get help for alcohol and other drug treatment–whatever model they choose–the majority of those who use alcohol and drugs excessively go untreated. This is the truth according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism which sites less than 20 percent of those who need treatment do not receive treatment. Those who do attempt to recover without any treatment sometimes find they can do it, however most of the others lapse and relapse over and over where they cycle in and out and never get the help they really need. And there are researchers working right now studying this problem, working to find solutions that people can and want to use. Unfortunately this research is painstakingly slow.  Harm reduction methods seek to reduce the harm an individual will experience while engaging in unhealthy behavior. For example if a person is using IV drugs, the harm reduction methods encourages the use of clean needles. This does not prevent a person from using IV drugs but it does significantly reduce the exposure to other needle related diseases like HIV, hepatitis, staph and other commonly seen infections within the IV drug using populations.

 Degrees of Progress

There are medicines that can help, self-help groups, behavioral therapy interventions and programs that target dysfunctional patterns. For these programs, learning when to drink and when not to drink can provide a network of decisions put into place that facilitate less harm. For example if drinking six drinks after work on your ride home is dangerous and can produce harm, then the goal of a harm reduction method would be to reduce the quantity and place where the drink is consumed. Looking at drinking patterns and behaviors and coming up with real life solutions is the foundation of the harm reduction method. This can work! in addition, the person learns some coping strategies like healthier communication skills, learns to problem solve, learns to manage and cope with stress, develops healthier relationship skills, learns to manage their time more effectively, understands and is able to prioritize and engage in self-care and self-love.  All these tools can help the person work toward self change. Anytime a person is learning how to engage in self care they are less likely to engage in self harm methods.

Many People Many Paths

Some people must choose, for better or for worse, their own path toward getting help. No matter how much family and friends want their loved one to get help, this just may not happen. This can be deeply heart breaking. Practicing healthy self-care is a healthy solution. Learning to set  limits and be healthy is one way to encourage others to do the same. There is no right solution, everyone has the right to walk their own path. Each person has their own sense of right and wrong and living according to personal values is a healthy alternative. This is not always easy to watch. If you are wondering what help is available right now, you can reach out and make an appointment. Screenings are free of charge There is a world of opportunities for growth and relationship. Don’t wait another minute.

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