Patient Blogs | Substance Abuse
I’ve Tried the 12-Step Program, But What About Other Alternative/Unconventional Treatment Options?

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

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Brian Brewington

Brian Brewington

Diagnosed since 2014

Brian Brewington has been on the journey of addiction recovery since 2014 and was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder in 2019. A 34-year-old writer and freelancer from Philadelphia, his work has been featured in KEF Audio Magazine, and he runs the Journal of Journeys publication on, where his writing first became popular. Brewington still sees a therapist and attends 12-step program meetings regularly. You can read more from him here.

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