When Are the 12 Steps Not Enough?
12-step programs can be a valuable resource for addiction recovery. There are several advantages of attending 12-step meetings as a way of managing addiction. First, meetings are easy to find. Unless you live in a remote area, there are probably several meetings nearby. They are also an easy way to start building a sober network. These are people who understand what addiction is like and want to help you stay sober. 12-step programs have helped millions of people recover from addiction. As helpful as they can be, though, they are sometimes not enough. Here’s why.
You might have a dual diagnosis.
More than half of people who struggle with addiction have another mental health issue too, or a dual diagnosis. Common dual diagnoses include depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, ADHD, OCD, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. While 12-step meetings can provide structure, motivation, and social support, they cannot provide professional help for clinical conditions. These conditions often require psychotherapy and medication. Without treating these underlying conditions, controlling the addictive behavior is much harder and sometimes impossible. 12-step programs can’t supply this professional help and some groups are even opposed to any kind of medication, even if it’s prescribed to treat a mental health issue.
You might have an opioid addiction.
An opioid addiction is hard to manage even with the most comprehensive treatment. It may be possible to control it with 12-step meetings alone, but it’s a long, uphill battle. The current gold standard for opioid treatment includes psychotherapy and medication, typically methadone or buprenorphine. These medications shorten detox and reduce cravings, helping the patient overcome two major obstacles to recovery. Although you are still welcome to attend 12-step meetings while on methadone or buprenorphine, 12-step programs do not endorse the use of medication for opioid recovery and they don’t consider someone on medication to be sober. This sometimes makes people feel excluded or conflicted, with other members often telling them they aren’t really sober despite significant improvement.
The culture might not be a good fit.
Every 12-step group is a little bit different, but they tend to have certain things in common. They all share the disease model of addiction and the abstinence model of recovery. They all emphasize helplessness in the face of addiction and reliance on a higher power. Some groups can be dogmatic about the program and critical of people who deviate from it. This works fine for some people, but it turns others off. It’s just not a good fit for everyone. Some people might do better in other mutual support groups such as SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, or LifeRing, all of which are secular approaches and more open to different methods. However, there’s no reason you can’t do one of these and attend 12-step meetings too.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.
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