Support is available for people seeking options beyond the 12 steps, and proponents believe recognition will grow with future generations’ exposure to different approaches.
People trying addiction alcohol recovery have a variety of experiences in treatment. They may receive outpatient, intensive outpatient, or residential treatment. They may access services in luxurious surroundings, community clinics, or prisons. They may encounter cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, or family therapy.
Despite these differences, there is something that many people in recovery will share as they progress through and out of treatment: They will be asked, if not required, to “work the steps.” Indeed, the process of addiction alcohol recovery has been dominated in the United States by the 12-step method established with the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in 1935.
But AA and its various successors are not the only mutual-aid groups available to support people in recovery. For the past few decades, several other groups have tried to offer alternatives to those who want something other than a 12-step approach. These alternative groups historically have struggled to gain a significant following, but with the advent of new technologies and the rise of a new generation of people in treatment who want more control over their recovery, these groups believe the time has come for social workers and other behavioral health professionals to accept them as part of the mainstream continuum of recovery services.
“A big part of what I believe in is choice,” says Robert Stump, executive director of LifeRing, a group based in Oakland, CA. “One shoe does not fit all people. Every day that goes by, there are more and more people who are demanding that choice. [Alternative groups] may not cater to a large section of the American public, but we do appeal to a subset of Americans, and professionals should be aware of that.”
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