As a member of a 12-step program, as well as one who spent time at a treatment facility for alcohol and drug use, I've too often heard it suggested or even explicitly stated that these are the only ways to truly treat substance abuse.
While I am by no means knocking treatment facilities or 12-step programs (I'm actually an advocate of and a believer in both), I find it irresponsible for people to claim there’s only one narrow path to sobriety.
It is my opinion that these people are speaking from their personal experience and what they'd be better served to say is rehabilitation centers and 12-step programs are what worked for them. However, this doesn't mean they’re the ONLY ways to successfully treat addiction and substance abuse.
Personally, I've found one-on-one talk therapy to be far more helpful for me, not just in staying clean and sober, but also just better altogether than 12-step meetings.
I've heard it implied that only addicts can help other addicts. I don't find that to be true either, as one of the most helpful people to me personally, in the facility I was at, was a counselor who never did drugs a day in her life.
It was in her office, as well as in those of therapists outside the facility, where I have benefited and gained tools to use in my sobriety that tend to serve me better than those that I've learned anywhere else, meetings included.
As far as opiate addiction and alcoholism go, I have seen people I'm close to successfully better their lives with medication-assisted treatment. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle I've seen many of them face was being judged by people in programs who don't agree with their means of treatment, and needlessly question their sobriety altogether. I've seen the stigma of medication-assisted treatment be enough for people to leave a 12-step group and never return.
A loved one I'm very close to overcame a physical addiction to heroin by micro-dosing psilocybin mushrooms, a thought that many addicts would find laughable as they've been convinced that putting any drug into your body will undoubtedly lead them back to rock bottom.
Another close friend of mine has found medical marijuana – which a doctor in Pennsylvania prescribed to him and he buys legally at a legitimate business – has been the most effective form of treatment he’s ever tried to beat his opiate addiction. This is someone who has tried close to every other kind of conventional treatment I'm familiar with, and none of them worked for him.
I write this in hopes of bringing awareness to alternative forms of treatment when it comes to substance abuse, as well as trying to convince people as a whole to keep an open mind on the subject. No two people are the same. So the same treatments won't work for everyone.
It is my opinion that if your chosen form of treatment is working for you and helping you better your quality of life and health, then you should continue it, while allowing others to do the same.
Photo Credit: andrei_r / iStock via Getty Images Plus
Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.
Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.