The National Institute of Mental Health defines substance use disorder (SUD) as “A mental disorder that affects a person’s brain and behavior, leading to a person’s inability to control their use of substances.” Given that this is an affliction of the mind, it is important to treat it seriously and compassionately, as we would an affliction of the body.
Without proper care and guidance, this disorder can lead to more severe problems regarding your mental and physical health. It can also make you feel isolated and guilt-ridden. Remember you are not alone.
Substance Use Disorder Statistics
In 2020, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimated that around 20% of people aged 12 or older were at risk or suffering from substance use or mental health disorders. That means that almost 1 in 5 people you meet is going through a similar situation. Whatever weight you are carrying, it is imperative to find a way to rid your mind, body, and soul of it. You need to discover the journey that will help you succeed on your road to addiction recovery.
Starting Your Journey to Recovery
Recovering from SUD is a lifelong journey. Each person goes through specific circumstances that have led them to this medical condition. Because of this, one treatment won’t be right for everyone. The good news is that no matter what has brought you here, there are many ways to overcome addiction and become a happier and healthier you. Although it may take some trial and error, you can reach sobriety.
If you’re reading this, you have already taken the most challenging and essential step: looking for help. We will be discussing 12-Step programs as well as non-12-Step alternatives to overcome addiction. Let’s find out what treatment or combination is right for you.
According to Social Work in Public Health, 12-Step programs are associated with better control of how substances are used, abstinence outcomes, and medical expenses. The program was originated by Bill Wilson, a former member of Alcoholics Anonymous. In his book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Wilson describes the tips and tricks that helped him get through his own sobriety journey. These steps have been used throughout the years to help people who are having difficulty controlling their use of substances, thoughts, or behaviors. This program has had a notable success rate. Many support groups and organizations have currently incorporated and adapted the steps as an addiction treatment standard.
What Are the 12-Steps?
At the beginning of the chapter “How It Works” in the fourth edition of the Alcoholics Anonymous book, Wilson declares the steps as follows:
#1 We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
#2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
#3 Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
#4 Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
#5 Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
#6 Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
#7 Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
#8 Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
#9 Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
#10 Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
#11 Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
#12 Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs. (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 2001, pp. 59-60)
The Difference in Non-12-Step Approaches
The main difference between 12-Step and non-12-Step approaches has to do with spirituality. In the 12-Step program, the belief is that the person’s greater spiritual being — whichever it may be — will provide the power and strength needed to restore their health. It is through this force that they will take responsibility for their actions. Seeking out ways to change them for the better through prayer, meditation, and personal reflection. Once on the track to healing, people will use their experiences and knowledge to help others who are still suffering.
How Does Non-12-Step Work?
If a spiritual approach doesn’t resonate with you, there are numerous options. It all comes down to finding the will, strength, and support to never give up on yourself. You don’t need to look toward a higher power for compassion or understanding. Compassion, understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness can be found within yourself. In fact, these are necessary in order to heal. Loving and being kind to yourself through every stage of recovery is key. You must commit to never giving up and never falling back into the same old habits no matter what happens. And if you ever do fail, try again and know you are not alone and you will make it through.
Which One Is the Right Choice for Me?
Whether your approach is spiritual or more personal, these are just guidelines to help you reach your sobriety goals. In the end, the journey is your own and there are many different approaches that you can take. You don’t have to strictly follow a specific lifestyle. Together, we can find the therapies that work best for you and help you live happier and more present than ever before.