How Good Are Non 12 Step Rehabs ?

Very few treatment centers will actually declare themselves as non-12-step based, but many will offer alternative programs that are designed to help people deal with alcoholism and addiction, but which use no part of a 12 step program in their recovery.

Sometimes this is because these rehabs believe the 12 step model is in some way flawed, and other times because they know there is a market for people who are apprehensive about what is perceived as a religious/spiritual approach to recovery.

The majority of treatment centers and rehabs base their addiction treatment programs around some elements of the AA 12 step model of recovery.

Historically, what most of them have done is to take the principles of the first five steps, and modify or change them to their own requirements, yet still present them as being part of the AA recovery approach.

This approach does inevitably lead to some confusion, especially for the individuals undergoing treatment, who believe they have gone through the AA approach to recovery, when in fact they have gone through a different version of it.

Traditional 12 Step Rehabs

A number of people believe that the real value of most treatment centers and rehabs is twofold.

Firstly they provide a physically safe environment for people to begin to deal with their alcoholism and addiction, that is out of their normal life, and as such away from pressures that they associate with their drinking.

In this environment, it is believed that it is easier for people to begin to comprehend the enormity of what they are dealing with, and lay the foundations for their recovery.

The second value that people associate with treatment centers is that most of them will introduce people to the actual reality of Alcoholics Anonymous, both in terms of the treatment centers approach to 12 step recovery, and an introduction to actual meetings of AA, either on site or in the local community.

It is believed that if individuals in recovery are exposed to AA early on, then it is more likely they will make AA a part of their recovery process, both whilst in treatment and once they have left.

The above is a slightly simplistic approach to the effect that rehabs and  treatment centers can have on people, but is probably a fairly good basic guide to the 12 step model that is often used in this type of recovery.

12 Step Programs

12 step programs inevitably apply to the principles used in Alcoholics Anonymous, and a wide range of other fellowships/organisations that have borrowed this approach, and applied it to their own recovery needs around different addictions.

Whilst there is a significant amount of experience, both current and historical, that this 12 step approach can be hugely beneficial for a lot of people, there are also a significant number of critics of this approach, for different reasons.

Without going into the debate itself, it is fair to say that a number of people on both sides tend to get quite fundamentalist about it, and inevitably distort many of the actual issues themselves.

When someone is looking for help to deal with an alcohol or drug problem, it is probably not that helpful to get involved in this debate itself.

There are however a significant number of people who have already decided that they don’t want anything to do with a 12 step program, and such seek some type of recovery that does not include it.

Non 12 Step Recovery

Any type of recovery that begins with the premise that it is not something else is perhaps slightly suspect, but is perfectly valid  in the sense of trying to help people who are heading in a particular direction.

There are a number of treatment centers whose programs tend to be focused around a more holistic approach, the word holistic implying a rounded approach to recovery.

This approach will often include a number of different areas of help, including diet, yoga, meditation, therapy, exercise etc.

All these areas of recovery  can be extremely helpful, if practiced professionally and correctly, and which in theory can benefit anyone, whether they are in recovery or not.

Whilst this type of recovery can be beneficial to anyone, it is more debatable whether it can genuinely help shift the nature of someone’s  alcoholism and addiction.

Effective Treatment

Often in all types of medicine and approaches to illness and recovery, the phrase clinical evidence or evidence-based research is used to verify a particular type of treatment or not.

The intent is to make sure that any treatment for any illness is based on actual evidence and proof that the treatment works, and that such proof can be validated in clinical terms.

With regard to alcoholism and addiction this is very difficult, if not impossible to do.

AA itself keeps no records of membership, or any type of records about so-called success rate in terms of sobriety.

As such we can simply do not know how effective it is, in terms of short-term and long-term success rates

The same applies to virtually all treatment centres and non-step approaches to recovery.

Some rehabs will talk about a success rate in terms of percentages, but they are normally meaning how many people have actually physically stayed and completed their recovery program.

As such, assessing the most suitable approach to treatment can be quite a difficult thing.

Many people will simply go with the accepted wisdom of our age that Alcoholics Anonymous, and rehabs and treatment centers based program around it, offer the best hope of recovery.

There are others who are for whatever reason are ideologically opposed to the  whole idea of 12-step recovery, and will look for any type of alternative recovery available.

Spirit of Recovery

The spirit of the early members of AA was very open in that they believed they did not have a monopoly on recovery, and genuinly encouraged people to try alternatives if they were not able to adhere to the principles of the AA program itself for any reason.

This was an authentic approach to recovery. These people knew that they had something that worked, but were also humble enough to know that there may well be other ways for people to heal their alcoholism and addiction as well.

The spirit of openness and looking for help whenever it may be has probably become much more marginalised in the recovery world today, where the different approaches to recovery have become more driven by ideology, rather than simply being driven by  need.

Buddhism and the Smart Recovery Program are two good examples of this.


What Are Treatment Options For Alcoholism?

Anyone looking for help to get sober or stop drinking has a number of options, which can make the process both a bit more confusing and a bit more difficult knowing which way to go.

Some people will get sober on their own without any intervention or help to all, but the majority will need some assistance, short-term and long-term.

Alcoholics Anonymous is the oldest and perhaps best known source for helping people to get sober, and there are a number of other 12 step fellowships that relate to different addictions, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous etc.

A number of people will go into residential treatment centers, or rehabs, and some will seek a variety of outpatient type sources of help, commonly referred to as partial hospital treatment.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Historically, Alcoholics Anonymous has been thought of as the go to place for anyone who has a drink problem, or wants to get help getting sober. For many this is still the case. People sometimes debate the effectiveness of AA, but for many people this is an academic exercise when trying to get sober.

If someone has a serious drink problem, then going to AA is inevitably a good first place to start. It is certainly fair to say that people have problems with some aspects of the AA program, normally centring around the God question, and these are not always easy to address.

On the other side, once someone gets sober and stays sober, they have a much greater freedom in their life to address any of the issues they feel uncomfortable with, either in AA or in other areas of their life.

One of the real aspects of AA at its best, is the freedom people have to simply turn up at a meeting, to stay or to leave at their own will –  there should normally be no pressure within any meeting on any individual to disclose information about themselves or their situation.

The anonymity aspect of AA is a crucial part of giving someone who is newly sober a degree of protection, both within AA and outside it. This level of protection gives people some time and space to come to terms with what it means to be sober for themselves.

It is also fair to say that the reality of AA in terms of this level of freedom does not always add up or match the theoretical sense of how it should be.

People in Alcoholics Anonymous may often seem over keen or sometimes a bit overbearing in terms of trying to convince people that AA is the right solution. There are also groups in AA  that very definitely have what could be called a cult dynamic, and anyone experiencing any group of this type would do well to run a proverbial mile.

Being aware of the failings of AA is not a criticism of such, simply an acknowledgement of its reality. Anyone newly sober or getting sober may not be immediately aware of these issues, but will probably come to acknowledge and understand some of them in due course.

Rehabs / Treatment Centers

The enormous growth of treatment centers over the last few years has led to a belief that anyone needing help for a drink or drug problem needs to go to a rehab in order to get sober.

Whilst this is not the case, as anyone can go directly to a meeting of AA or NA, many people find the idea of a rehab attractive in so far as it provides something of a bubble out of their normal life, away from family, friends and work.

In many ways a rehab or treatment center is intended to be something of a bubble,  providing a safe space where people can address issues away from day-to-day distractions.

There are obviously benefits to this, as well as potential problems.

The main benefits are that it gives people time and space away from day-to-day life to begin to look at and address problems that may have been long seated and serious for their entire life.

People also have problems with the fact that  a number of rehabs can seem quite institutional, and many have fairly strict rules and guidelines that cover every aspect of an individual’s life, from what clothes they can wear, to what music they can listen to, to what perfume they can use etc.

Many rehabs make a virtue of these types of rules and conditions, insisting they provide a structured framework that allow people to address more fundamental issues uncluttered.

On the other hand, many people find the rigidity of these rules and regulations incredibly oppressive, and as such it can have the opposite effect to that intended.

Having said all that, there are numerous different types of treatment centers around, although different from each other in many ways, and if time permits is normally possible to find one that seems to be in keeping with what the individual who is seeking treatment is looking for.

Treatment Cost and Programs

The other issue around rehabs and treatment centers is cost. Whilst most rehabs are fairly reluctant to give any idea of costs, Hazelden estimate that a 28 day stay in one of their treatment centres is likely to cost around US$30,000.

This is only a very rough estimate, and some of the high end luxury rehabs can charge three or four times this amount. It does however give some indication of cost, a cost that can often be covered by a health insurance plan

It should also be mentioned that most rehabs base their treatment programs on the 12 step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. Whilst they don’t actually use the AA program itself, they take some elements of it and adapt them to their own type of recovery ideas.

In addition, most treatment centers will actively encourage residents to attend meetings of AA/NA etc whilst they are in treatment, and once they have left as well as a form of after-care.

Some AA meetings will take place on site at the rehab itself, although the meeting will be independent and have no connection to the center.


How to Manage Withdrawal from Alcohol

Anyone getting sober is likely to have to do with the issue of withdrawals from alcohol, whether or not a detox is necessary, and possibly the effects of withdrawal from  narcotics as well.

If someone has been drinking heavily for a while, or to a point where it has become a problem for them, then suddenly stopping is likely to have an impact on them.

Not only their physical body, but on the emotional issues it is likely to start bringing up as well.

The reality is, that withdrawal effects from alcohol can vary significantly from individual to individual, irrespective of the amount they have been drinking beforehand.

What is important is to be aware of the potential dangers of  withdrawal, how they can be managed and how best to prepare for the need for a proper detox.

Rehab

A lot of people will get sober through a rehab or treatment center, and one issue about which rehab to choose is its approach to how to detox someone.

Any rehab should have clinical facilities and staff, or access to such locally, who can assess whether there is a need for a detox, and if so overseas and manage it in a safe and effective manner.

Clinical facilities in terms of staff, location and appropriate medication are a key element of ensuring the safety of an individual once they get sober, and beginning the process of rebuilding their life.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol or alcoholism are the body experiencing the withdrawal of something it is used to, which it has become heavily addicted to.

It is almost worth thinking of these symptoms as the body fighting back in the way.

Symptoms can range from nausea, headaches, shakes, sweats etc through to full-blown hallucinations, DT’s etc.

Many medical websites offer a full range of the potential symptoms of withdrawal, as well as a timeline of how this can affect people.

While this can be helpful it is worth remembering that individuals do differ significantly as to how they withdraw from alcoholism, and what is important is to be aware of the potential dangers, and have strategies in place in order to cope with them.

Home Detox

When a person does not go into rehab, and sobers up on their own in any way, the process of managing withdrawal is normally referred to as a home detox.

This does not normally mean that they actually do do any type of formal detox, it normally refers to the process of simply getting through it, albeit in a fairly unpleasant manner.

What is crucially important that someone is getting sober, is at they have access to medical help, and a medical assessment of what they are doing.

This is best done through a primary care physician, but if this is not possible and maybe other help available.

There are a number of websites available that give practical advice about the possible effects of withdrawal from  alcoholism and how to manage it.

Dual Addiction

This is a phrase that is used to describe anyone who is addicted to alcohol and any other drug or narcotic.

A significant number of alcoholics also use drugs and pills, prescribed and non-prescribed, and this can also be a significant issue in stopping using them.

There are significant potential dangers when stopping using any type of narcotic, and these potential dangers can be multiplied significantly when the person has been using alcohol as well.

If someone is entering rehab, it is essential that completely honest about what drugs they have been using, how much and or how long.

This can be very tricky, as someone who is an active alcoholic will almost invariably  minimise the amount they have been drinking and using.

If someone is getting sober on their own, even if they are using some type of therapy or 12 step based program to help them, it is essential to get some type of medical help as well.

This medical help can be in terms of assessing the need for a detox, and how that can best be managed. It is really important that this process is looked at as soon as a decision is made to stop drinking or using.


Emotional Sobriety – What Does It Really Mean ?

Everyone’s journey from active alcoholism into sobriety is both unique and complex.

One thing that is fairly common however, is that when people do sober up, they have to start living with themselves without alcohol.

This means beginning to live with the reality of what they were trying to escape from when drinking, both internally and externally.

For many people, this can be a pretty daunting process, can take a long time and is a lot of work to really heal. It is probably fair to describe this process as emotional sobriety.

The phrase emotional sobriety was first used by Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, in an article he wrote for the AA Grapevine in January 1958.

The article was entitled The Next Frontier : Emotional Sobriety.

In the article, Bill Wilson outlined his thoughts on the emotional struggles he had had, largely during the time of his depression, and how he had come through them with a much stronger sense of his inner world and what it meant to him.

Many people seek to interpret this phrase, and how Bill Wilson wrote about it, in a number of different ways.

The reality is, as with everything that he wrote, and all AA literature, that people have an absolute freedom to interpret in anyway they find helpful or not.

Trying to interpret his writings in ways that mean people have to fit their own experience into the context of what he was saying, is in many ways an emotional death wish, and something he most likely would never have intended or wanted.

It is clear from pretty much all of his writings that he intended to share his experience, both at a personal and an AA level, in the hope that it could be helpful to people, and that they could use his experience as part of the process of rebuilding their own life once they got sober.

Getting Sober

It is probably a fair assumption to say that the emotional drives that fuel people’s alcoholism are for most people fairly deep-rooted, and quite often go back to childhood.

When someone gets sober, they start to live with the legacy of these emotional drives as they affect them on a day-to-day basis. The depth of this emotional trauma can often seem too overwhelming to go near for many people.

Most people soon begin to realise that their emotional lives are out of control at some level, and that in some way this either contributed to their drinking, or was the cause of the dread/terror inside them that alcohol seemed to be the solution to.

People’s understanding of their own alcoholism comes in time, and this sense that alcohol was the solution, not the problem, is pretty common and pretty core to this understanding.

It is also completely at odds with the understanding that someone who is not an alcoholic is likely to have of alcoholism generally.

Emotional Turmoil

There is a saying in AA, that when you get sober you begin to realise why you drank.

This is not normally intended to be taken literally, as in finding the reasons people drink alcoholically.

It is meant to refer to the fact that when people get sober, they begin to live with themselves without alcohol, and as such soon begin to realise at some level this emotional turmoil that fuelled their drinking.

At some point in their recovery, people are likely to realise that they need to in some way process this emotional turmoil or they are likely to start drinking again.

This is normally around the fact that most alcoholics see / saw alcohol as the solution to their problems, not the problem itself.

Once sober, the alcohol is gone, and people have to start living with themselves without it.

This can be a fairly tough thing to accept, and people’s ways of dealing with it differ significantly.

It is very likely however that it will take a significant degree of emotional pain before people become willing to really own and address their underlying emotional issues, although there are obviously many different reasons for this.

The phrase emotional sobriety really covers this entire process, pretty much from day one through till whenever it stops !

It is probably a mistake to think that the phrase only deals with issues of later recovery, or with issues of depression.

The nature of staying sober for many people is around finding ways of healing the internal emotional turmoil that alcohol helped to give some relief from, and this is normally a lifelong process.

Alcoholic Homes

Although anecdotal, it is fairly clear that a significant number of alcoholics in recovery grew up in what are normally referred to as alcoholic homes.

This normally refers to homes where either one or both parents were active alcoholics, or where there was a significant number of alcoholics in the extended family.

The effects of growing up in an alcoholic home can be varied, but there are a number of common traits.

The most common one is an absence of safety.

This can either be an emotional absence, or an actual absence or both.

People growing up in alcoholic homes describe a total lack of stability or safety, the lack of feeling anyone is in control, and the need to take responsibility for their own lives at an early age.

Growing up in an alcoholic home has a significant impact on someone’s development and sense of self.

It can distort ancestry damage how someone  relates to themselves and other people.

Someone who is also an alcoholic themselves and grows up in an alcoholic home will find that the emotional chaos of their childhood is likely to have played a significant part in their own emotional development, and how they tried to force their life to work in some way.

Emotional sobriety is about finding ways of healing this emotional turmoil, and getting a real sense of peace and stability internally that can enable someone to really live at peace with themselves, possibly for the first time ever.


emotional sobriety

emotional sobriety

emotional sobriety

emotional sobriety

emotional sobriety

What Does it Mean to Respect Boundaries?

Quite a simple question in many ways, but one that many people struggle with, both in terms of trying to set boundaries of their own, and dealing with other people who don’t respect, or don’t seem able  to respect anyone else’s boundaries at all.

The issue of boundaries is not unique to people in 12-step recovery, but is perhaps more acute because so many  of them have grown up either in alcoholic homes or enmeshed  homes of one type or another.

Anyone who has grown up in such a home would to some degree have felt that they did not have their own sense of space,  or their own sense of privacy, or simply their own right to be themselves.

It is sometimes described as not knowing where your life ends and the other person begins.

This is really about someone having the space to be themselves.

Personal Space

This sense of not having your own personal space becomes more apparent as you get older, and becomes more important as you try to reconcile the responsibilities of your own life, with the responsibilities of other people’s lives around you.

Trying to define boundaries is quite difficult in one sense, but is normally much more obvious when there are really being blurred. When people do not respect other people’s boundaries, they do not respect the person themselves.

Respecting someone as an individual, is in large part about giving them the freedom to be themselves, and giving them the space to process their own needs, and also to have the space where they come to the realisation of what their own needs are themselves first.

Respecting the Individual

Respecting boundaries is about respecting an individual.

Where someone does not respect boundaries, they do not respect the individual’s right to be themselves and make decisions for themselves.

Inevitably they try and manipulate the other person into doing what they want them to do, whilst trying to make them think that it is their decision in the first place.

Boundaries are often talked about in terms of childhood development, because they are about setting a safe place for a child to learn what is and is not acceptable. Boundaries are about creating a real sense of freedom within the confines and context of your life.

In adulthood this is a very different process to how a child will learn how boundaries affect a sense of space.

Enmeshed Homes

The problem in many ways for people in 12 step recovery is that they are playing catch up. Many who have grown up in alcoholic or enmeshed homes will have experienced acute levels of a lack of boundaries.

This will have manifested itself in a lot of complications and problems in the individual, often leading to a real sense of emotional limbo, feeling they have no responsibility or power over their own life, but feeling responsible for the lives of other people that they have no control over.

This is normally a direct reflection of the home they grew up in, and becomes a pattern of behaviour and thought throughout the life.

Learning to set boundaries as an adult is not an easy thing, Especially if other people in your life used to getting their own way and being able to use you as they want to.

Learning to say no, and to own your own right to make your own decisions is really what setting boundaries is about.

At first it may feel a bit awkward, or even a bit controlling. As time goes on learning to set boundaries will become a very real and natural part of your life, and ultimately will give you the safety of being able to own your own emotional space, and really feel you have your life back.


Why People Struggle with Being Vulnerable

People quite often like to categorise emotions as being good or bad, with emotions such as anger and self-pity been thought of as bad or weak .

Emotions such as gratitude and a positive outlook are thought of as good healthy emotional states.

Truth is that judgement of any emotional state is of itself counter productive.

Emotions are neither good nor bad of themselves, neither strong no weak, they simply are.

This may sound a bit trite, but is really important because of what ones emotional state can tell us about ourselves.

Many people in 12 step recovery struggle with emotional drives once they get sober.

Often the alcohol has been used as a way of quite simply blotting out the emotional pain someone has lived in, and has been used to simply avoid reality.

Getting Sober

When someone gets sober, one of the first lessons that they learn is that this is, how do they live with themselves sober.

This may not be immediately obvious at a conscious level, but they soon into realise that the emotional unmanageability of their lives is often as strong as the practical unmanageability of their drinking which caused them to seek help.

One of the important part of the process of 12 step is recovery is to be able to consciously look at and evaluate how our emotions work at a normal instinctive level, simply because on a daily basis people just act or react to what goes on around them.

This can be particularly true when someone has a high level of anger or resentment that determines their attitudes and their reactions to much of what happens in their life.

The book Alcoholics Anonymous describes resentment as the number one offender, and says it destroys more alcoholics than anything else.

Anyone who has lived with their own anger, or with an angry alcoholic, drunk or sober, knows the power of resentment, and how overwhelming it can be.

Information

Perhaps the most important thing to realise about our emotional states is that they give us information about ourselves.

The process of the 12 step program allows us to consciously evaluate this information at both a head and a heart level.

Being able to develop a degree of self awareness is a huge freedom, even if it does not seem so at the beginning throughout the process.

Knowing what one’s own emotional baggage and drives are, does give you the freedom to be able to process them, even if it is painful or takes you to dark places.

Thinking of people as being emotionally weak or emotionally strong is a fundamental misconception.

The real problem behind this attitude is one of judgement. If someone is judging themselves or other people for how they are feeling, they will be completely unable to accept it as a real state.

If they cannot accept that, in reality they will never be able to change it.

The term emotional  sobriety is often used to describe the process of people coming to terms with their more complex and serious emotional drives that may only begin to become apparent after someone has been sober for a while.

This journey can be a tough one, but ultimately is the only real root to any lasting happiness or internal sense of stability and peace.


Why Tough Love isn’t Really About Love

Tough love is one of those expressions that has crept into the vocabulary of mental health and 12 step recovery in recent years.

It sort of implies that an action or directive is being given or taken which may on the surface seem a bit tough, but is being done from a place of love, for the benefit of the individual concerned even if they are unable to see it.

A couple of examples.

Intervention

A family intervention to get someone into rehab is often talked about as being an act of tough love. In recovery, a sponsor will  sack a sponsor  and tell them it is for their own benefit.

In truth it is normally because they are not doing something the sponsor explained to get them to do.

Both the above examples have actually very little to do with love.

In many ways they are simply about an act of bullying, using the guise  of people’s vulnerability as a way of exploiting that in ability to fight back.

Trying to define what love is  obviously a very difficult if not impossible thing to do.

It is easier in a way to show what love is not. Any type of loving and individual must at its core have a sense of respect for the integrity and life of the other person. When people are in any way exploited, such respect is non-existent.

Last Resort

Looking at the case of an intervention in more detail, an intervention is often talked about as being something that is used as a last resort and is often done because people say ” that things simply cannot go on the way they are”.

Looking at it logically,  an intervention is a getting together of people who care about the individual, who try to shut that individual into agreeing to go into rehab seeking treatment in order to deal with  their alcoholism or addiction.

The mindset behind an intervention is often that the sense of pressure from the family will make the individual see sense and do what he should have done some time ago.

What it fails to take into account is the mindset of the person who is the alcoholic or addict.

Although there is a slight risk of generalising, it is probably fair to say that an alcoholic will turn to alcohol at some point in their drinking as being one and only thing that is holding them together.

Pressure

What an intervention does is  pressure them into a situation that they possibly cannot handle, it presents them with a false choice about their future.

Whilst many will go into rehab following an intervention,  some may get sober, some may not.

What people never really see is the emotional damage that may be done to an alcoholic by way of the intervention making them feel trapped, and forced to do something against their will.

The reason this matter so much is because an alcoholic will see his relationship with alcohol differently to people who are not an alcoholic.

The external chaos is real for everyone to see. But other people cannot see inside the mind of the alcoholic.

An alcoholic needs to drink until they get to a place where they are willing to let go of it. That willingness has to come from within, and is a fairly complicated process.

Tough but not Love

In the context of tough love, an intervention as understood in 12 step recovery is not really an act of love at all.

Normally a much better act of love would be to advise the family to go to  Al-Anon and begin their own recovery in the context of the other person’s drinking.

Tough love is a phrase that seems quite active because it can provide a degree of certainty and harshness, under the  impression that it is actually the  loving thing that has been done.

Great care should be taken when anyone talks about tough love, as it normally relates to an action that actually is not particularly loving, even if the motives of the person doing it are coming from the right place.


Why It’s Important to Question Gratitude

Quite often in an AA meeting or similar, you will hear someone announce themselves as my name is so-and-so and I’m grateful alcoholic/ addict, or I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic/addict.

Equally, you are quite likely to hear someone say at a meeting something along the lines of a grateful alcoholic will never drink.

There is a sense that being grateful is not only a good and worthwhile things, it is an important part of recovery, and to some people it is a vital part of staying sober.

It is also often thought of as a way of preventing the build up of anger. The word gratitude can mean different things to different people, and it is worth being aware there are a couple of areas to it that are both really important.

There is no doubt that having some type of perspective about either what you have in life, or what is going for you in life can be helpful in terms of giving you a more balanced outlook on who you are and where your life is going.

Dark Thoughts

This can be especially true for people who are alcoholics, especially those who are recently sober or trying to get sober.

There is a general sense that people in recovery to have a high degree of negativity about their thought and feelings, and as such being grateful or doing a crescent list hopes to counterbalance that sense of negativity.

This can certainly be true. The depressive effects of alcohol can induce a wide range of dark thoughts and feelings within an individual, often compounding an already distorted outlook on themselves and their life, and deepening a sense of dread about their future.

The process of  12-step recovery involves many stages, one of which is laying the foundations for a stable period of  sobriety. Part of the process of laying the foundations is to give the individual hope, and let them discover for themselves the reality of their inner world, and what it means to them.

Developing a perspective that looks at their reality is hugely important to most people.

Often writing out a gratitude list helps people focus on the good in the life, and move away from an underlying sense of dread about the past and their alcoholism generally. Here comes the but – there are two other important things that need to be considered.

Gratitude is often touted as a good emotion or good feeling, as opposed to various other not so good feelings, and therefore one that should be encouraged. The danger with this idiot sometimes people will feel that they should be feeling a particular way when they aren’t.

Authenticity

This feeds into the whole issue of authenticity, and the need for people to have a genuine sense of being able to be they are.

It may be that in early recovery people are not able to face that in reality because of the dread attached to it. A focus on what is going well for them can help move them forward.

There does come a point however when that person needs to have space to own their own feelings, whatever those feelings are, and use those feelings as a guide to what is going on in there in their inner world.

This does not mean that they have to let go of looking for the good in their life, but it does mean that they need to be aware of what the so-called negative feelings are and where they are coming from.

There is a sense in recovery that there are two ongoing parts to it. One is dealing with the day-to-day stuff which most people should get better until sober, and dealing with the underlying stuff which for many people can be fairly traumatic, especially if there is a history of abuse or trauma, especially in childhood.

For many sober alcoholics, the process of dealing with the underlying issues becomes more important as time goes on, and also leads to a more healthy resolution of the effects of trauma and abuse which give rise to much of the so-called negativity or dread that helped fuel their drinking.


Accepting the Unacceptable

It has become almost something of a cliche in society nowadays to use the adage that you cannot cope with a problem unless you first admit it.

Not that this is a new or a novel idea, but it is probably true that this sentiment has become much more powerful and widespread owing to the nature of the growth of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 step recovery movement generally.

The first step of the AA 12 step program refers to an admission of being powerless over alcohol, and is generally taken to mean that the person has to accept or acknowledge their reality of powerlessness in order to move forward.

This can often involve fairly mixed emotions, ranging from a deep sense of anger to a feeling of being in complete limbo.

There is often much debate about the intricacies of what various words and phrases mean in all of the 12 step programs, and unfortunately this often misses the real point.

12 Step Programs

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the book itself Alcoholics Anonymous, were written as a statement of experience. This means simply that the words and phrases were designed to reflect the broad understanding and experience of the original members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

This experience was codified and written down in order that anyone who was interested, either for themselves or for other people, would be able to access this experience, and use it in whatever way they found helpful.

It is worth realising that the word acceptance, and the more broad notion of accepting one’s own alcoholism, has a particular slant in Alcoholics Anonymous that differs from other 12 step fellowships.

It is probably fair to say that Alcoholics Anonymous has in some ways a slightly more to do or die approach, a more black-and-white perhaps rigid sense of  12 step recovery, and this is reflected in its attitude to getting and staying sober.

Acceptance in AA has quite an all or nothing feel about it.

The term surrender is quite often used in the same context as acceptance, and there is what is often a general sense that someone needs to surrender to the program, surrender to God, surrender to the 12 step fellowship, and sometimes even surrender to a sponsor in order to get sober and stay sober.

Dangers of Surrender

The package of surrender and acceptance in this approach to recovery is very much the do or die attitude mentioned previously.

It is a sense of  almost having to accept the entire premise of what alcoholism and recovery are about, almost without any sense of the understanding of process. It is a very black-and-white attitude, and can come over as being quite fundamentalist, quite rigid.

The very word surrender implies some level of defeat, often worded as the defeat of the individuals own ego, or the defeat of their self-will run riot life and their journey with alcohol.

For some people this probably works, but equally it is probably fair to say that a significant number of people get put off by such a hard line point of view.

Interestingly, in other 12 step fellowships, the notion of acceptance is a much more gentle one. It is really about an acknowledgement of one’s own reality, not such a strong sense of fundamentalism, more such a strong sense of the implications of what it means.

Reality

At any level, step one in the AA program is about an individual who is an alcoholic accepting that this is their reality. Whilst that is very easy to say, for many alcoholics it is an extraordinary difficult concept to grasp, be they drinking or newly sober.

One of the main reasons for this, is that acceptance of the fact that an alcoholics cannot drink any more is often a pretty terrifying experience.

To really understand this, it is necessary to understand the mind of an alcoholic, which is hard at the best of times, but to understand that for many the idea of losing alcohol is a prospect too  scary to countenance.

This may be completely at odds with the reality of alcohol has taken them, and often the need to drink, and the illusion of safety that it gives them is too strong for this reality to be allowed a place in their lives.

This is why an understanding of the term acceptance matters.

It is about giving people who are looking at AA a sense that the 12 step program is actually a very gentle one, albeit one that is quite demanding in many ways.

It is also one that is about helping people to acknowledge that in reality and move forward with it in a way that is non-threatening and healing.


Resources 3

USA AA Meeting Directory – GSO

 

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Resources 2

List of AA meetings worldwide ( growing !!)

 

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USA

Resources Directory – 12 Step Meetings

This is a directory of 12 step meetings of different fellowships, throughout the world.

Please note that it is continually being updated, and if you have any links you would like to be included please email me db(at)arehab.org ( replacing at with at sign )

It is always a good idea to to check details with a local contact if available

Click on the name below, which will take you through to country and area specific listings

Alcoholics Anonymous

Al-Anon

CODA

Gamblers Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

Overeaters Anonymous

What is a Christian Rehab ?

Anyone looking for a Christian rehab will generally be doing so for one of two reasons.

The first reason is that they want a rehab that is purely faith-based or Bible based, the second reason is that they want a more traditional rehab, but one that is focused on spirituality and/or a Christian based approach to addiction recovery.

The issue of spirituality and belief in God has been at the core of recovery from alcoholism since the early experiences of Alcoholics Anonymous members. It has also been one of the defining issues in terms of both helping people and alienating people from the process of recovery.

As with any approach to recovery, it is important that the person looking for help has some clear understanding of what to look for. Any rehab offering help must comply with certain local and national requirements and regulations. A rehab should also employ a significant number of qualified clinical staff who can help assess the individual entering rehab to see if there is a need for a medical detox.

The rehab should also be able to either oversee such a medical detox if needed, or have other arrangements with a local clinical facility who can oversee the detox on their behalf. This is crucially important for any rehab as many people entering rehab will be withdrawing from the effects of alcohol and/or drugs, and this needs to be managed in a safe and secure clinical environment.

Once any detox has been done, the work of the rehab is to help the individual to understand the nature of alcoholism and other types of addiction, and to give individuals some grounding in the various approaches to recovery that the rehab advocates to help the individual rebuild their lives in the context of staying clean and sober both in rehab and once they have left.

The majority of rehabs will take a therapeutic approach that is based on the 12th program of Alcoholics Anonymous. A number of rehabs will also offer a wide range of other addiction treatment programs that should be clinically based, that should be evidence-based and should be based on extensive experience of what works.

A Christian-based rehab is normally a rehab that very specifically refers to itself as being Christian-based or faith-based. It very clearly sets out its addiction treatment program as being based on a belief that Jesus Christ, and belief in Jesus Christ is the only real source of salvation, and that this belief will be central to all the therapeutic work that is done in this type of rehab.

A Christian rehab can vary quite widely as to its structure and type of environment where this work will be done. Some Christian rehabs will opt for the traditional thirty-day model that most normal rehabs offer, with varying degrees of structure and rigidity in terms of living environment, personal possessions, access to phones and Internet etc.

Christian Rehab

Other Christian rehabs will offer a much more controlled and rigid environment, and although they are open and upfront about this, this model should be considered carefully before entry into it. Often this type of Christian rehab will offer an extensive and free recovery process with a enrolment period of up to 9 months.

There is likely to be a very strict regime where there is no personal contact with the outside world, no direct contact with anyone at all.

This type of Christian rehab very tightly controls the behaviour, the information and the environment that the individual will live in for these nine months. After the nine months is finished the individual will be expected to continue as part of the broader church that will be associated with the rehab and contribute to it in various ways.

This type of environment can at times be quite cult like, and should be guarded against. Any rehab should be freely entered into, and the client should also have the option or freedom to leave if they don’t like it. A rehab is not a prison, and whilst leaving early can have serious complications and consequences, it is nevertheless a freedom that the client should retain.

A Christian rehab that is faith-based and focuses exclusively on a biblical approach to recovery is a perfectly legitimate option for anyone seeking this. This type of rehab may or may not incorporate some of the approaches of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step organisations.

Most Christian rehabs will offer fairly intensive levels of Christian counselling, as well as a fairly intensive structured programme of daily Bible study groups and prayer groups.

A number of Christian rehabs will also be linked to various churches, and these churches should offer additional support through prayer and pastoral work to the individual once they are in rehab, and once they have left.

What Staff Does a Rehab Have ?

A rehab or treatment center should employ a wide range of different health care professionals, who have extensive clinical experience in dealing with alcoholism and addiction.

If the rehab is basing some of its therapeutic treatments on the twelve step progarm of Alcoholics Anonymous, then it is usually helpful if some of the staff are in recovery themselves, often having been in rehab themselves at some point.

This assessment of clinical staffing levels should relate to number of staff, different disciplines, qualifications and experience.

This information should be available on the rehab’s website, along with inforemation about availability of medical staff (should be 24/7) and regularity of therapy / conselling sessions etc.

Below is a list of the main types of clinical and therapeutic staff normally employed in a rehab. In addition a rehab should employ a number of well trained admin staff who can help the client through the often complicated admissions and insurance verification process.

Medical Doctor
Nurses
Psychiatrist
Psychologist
Therapists / Counsellors
Yoga Teachers
Chi Kung / Tai Chi Teachers
Reflexology Practitioners
Acupuncture Practitioners
Art Therapy Practitioners
Meditation / Mindfulness Practitioners
Dietitions
Nutritionists
Shiatsu Practitioners
Social Worker
Transitional Living Worker
Spiritual Guides
Fitness Instructors

What Programs does a Drug and Alcohol Rehab offer?

Traditionally, a rehab program or treatment center would help treat people through two specific routes.The first would be a medical detox if needed, followed by a fairly intensive therapeutic process based around the first five steps of the twelve step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

This would mainly be done in a mix of group discussion, group therapy and personal one to one therapy, with some life skills work done as well, under the supervision of qualified clinical staff.This has evolved into an environment where rehabs can offer a bewildering display of what they refer to as rehab programs.A selection of these programs is listed below !

This can be extremely confusing to people researching a rehab, both in terms of what the program is, and how effective it is.Part of the way through this is to have a general undertsnading of how rehabs work, visit the website of any rehab that interests you and see what programs they offer by way of treatment.These programs are sometimes referred to as therapeutic modalities.

If it is not clear what a particular program means, ring or email them and ask them. Also ask them whether the program is evidenced based, in terms of its effectiveness. This really means, is it based on current or ongoing clinical research.

Bear in mind also that the rehab industry is highly competitive and very lucrative, and some rehabs will offer exotic sounding therapies in order to attract business, ie you!Whilst these therapies might be fun, it is often questionable how effective they are in helping deal with alcoholism and drug addiction.

Acupuncture

Adventure Therapy

After Care Programs

Alpha-Stim& Hemi-Sync

Alumni Program

Art Therapy

Assessment

Behaviour Modification Therapy

Body Image Therapy

Chiropractic

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Co-occurring Disorders

Craniosacral Therapy

Creative Art Therapies

DBT – The Stages of Change

Detoxification Process

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Drug Primary Treatment

Drumming Therapy

EMDR (Trauma)

Eastern Modalities

EcoPsychology (Environmental)

Educational & Experiential Group

Emotional Freedom Technique

Equine Assisted Therapy

Extended Care

Family Therapy

Food Shopping

Group & Individual Therapy

Herbal / Homeopathic / Naturopathic medicine

HellerworkStructual Integration

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Individual Consultations with Registered Dietitian

Individualized Programs

Intensive Continuing Care Planning

Interpersonal/Group Therapy

Light Therapy

Life & Career Skills Planning

Life Coaching

Massage

Meal Planning & Preparation

Mindfulness Training

Mindsight and Interpersonal Neurobiology

Narrative Therapy

Neuro Feedback (Bio Feedback)

Nutritional Planning

Orthomolecular Therapy

P-Roshi

Physical Fitness Therapy

Qigong

Reiki

Relapse Prevention

Relapse Prevention Therapy

Relationship Building Activities

Ropes Course

Sand Play

Shiatsu

Spiritual Counseling

Sober Coaching

Somatic Experiencing (Trauma)

Somato-Emotional-Release Massage

Spirituality & Yoga Therapy

Systemic or Strategic Addiction Family Therapy

Thai Massage

Therapeutic Restaurant Outings

Thought Field Therapy

Trauma Resolution

Vivitrol Treatment for Opiate Addiction

Wilderness survival programs

Wolf Thearpy

Yoga

Zero Balancing

12 Step Groups

Long Stay Programs

Early Recovery Skills

Relapse Prevention Skills

Social Support in Recovery