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Non-12-Step Recovery Programs for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Patient talking to a psychologist for a non-12 step counseling session in a rehab clinic

Published: January 31, 2024

There are many types of non-12-step recovery programs for drug and alcohol addiction. This can be a great relief for those who would like to seek treatment for their substance abuse but do not want a faith-based option for recovery.

If you are ready to begin your recovery journey, there are many programs to choose from that ensure you will find one to fit your individual needs.

If you are curious about a 12-step alternative, or want to know more about what non-12-step programs are, who they could benefit, and what they entail, keep reading below.

About Non-12-Step Rehab

Rehab programs that are not 12-step programs are still very effective. These types of addiction recovery programs are non-faith-based, which is a major departure from traditional 12-step programs.

People battling substance abuse may choose non-12-step treatment options for many reasons, the most common reason being that many people seeking addiction treatment are not religious.

The 12-step approach emphasizes the need to rely on a higher power to gain strength to end addiction.

For many people who are looking for a rehab facility, religion and faith often come with trauma and painful feelings.

There are also those who do not identify with any religious or faith practices, and others may feel more comfortable with a holistic approach or other evidence-based treatments.

Who Can Benefit from Non-12-Step Rehab Programs?

People who are battling alcohol and drug addiction can benefit from non-12-step treatment approaches.

There are many reasons why somebody may choose 12-step alternatives for their recovery journey, but the benefits can be beneficial for many kinds of people.

Twelve-step rehab treatment programs can be beneficial for:

  • People who are dealing with religious trauma
  • People who do not identify as religious
  • People who may prefer evidence-based substance abuse treatment
  • Anyone who is in need of alcohol and drug addiction treatment

If you think you or a loved one may be interested in an alternative to 12-step rehab programs, reach out to our addiction specialists today. They can provide you with more in-depth details.

Non-12-Step Recovery vs. 12-Step Recovery Programs

It is important to keep in mind that both 12-step recovery programs and the 12-step alternatives are valid methods of treating substance use disorders. Many people have found long-lasting and successful sobriety using both types of treatment methods.

The 12-step model is built around faith and a higher power. This can be the ideal treatment for those who want their spirituality to be a major part of their recovery journey.

Twelve-step recovery programs focus on:

  • Acceptance — Accepting that addiction is a disease and cannot be overcome by willpower alone.
  • Surrender — Surrendering control to a higher power and accepting help and treatment from professionals and others who have had experience with addiction.
  • Participation — Participating in 12-step support group meetings and following the tenants of the program you are in.

Non-12-step programs take a different approach to treating substance use disorders. Many people prefer research-based treatment over faith-based.

These types of drug addiction treatment programs are great for people who would prefer to stay away from higher-power-based programs.

For people who prefer research-based approaches, the following are secular treatment organizations:

  • SMART Recovery
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
  • Women for Sobriety
  • LifeRing Secular Recovery

Disclaimer: Most substance abuse treatment organizations stress self-management and self-empowerment. Both secular and 12-step programs are valid options for recovery; it all depends on your individual needs.

What Happens in a Non-12-Step Addiction Treatment Program?

If you or a loved one are considering seeking treatment in a non-12-step treatment center, you may be wondering what you can expect when you enter.

The following is the general progression of treatment in a non-12-step alcohol and drug rehab center:

  1. Most people who enter any rehab program will likely need to go through a medically-assisted detoxification.
  2. If you need more frequent or focused treatment, you will probably be advised to enroll in an inpatient treatment program.
  3. After detoxing or graduating from an inpatient program, the next step in treatment will likely be an outpatient treatment program.
  4. The next step is to attend aftercare programs or sober living for successful sobriety maintenance.

Treatment Services in Non-12-Step Rehab Programs

There are many different types of treatment services available to people seeking addiction treatment in a non-12-step rehab program.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment in non-12-step programs, like many programs, is for people who need more intense and frequent treatment and supervision. Many people who are in inpatient treatment programs have enrolled straight out of a medical detox program.

Inpatient treatment programs are based on a structured schedule designed to assist your treatment plan. This strict schedule includes all individual therapies, group therapies, free time, and extracurricular activities.

Non-12-step programs will help individuals in addiction treatment learn self-management using research-backed and evidence-based treatment methods.

Medical Detox

Medical detox programs are typically the beginning point in any recovery journey. In order to assist your body in getting rid of the addiction, you have to rid your body of alcohol or drugs.

This process is known as detoxification and is medically supervised by doctors and medical staff.

During a medically supervised detox, nurses and other medical staff will frequently assess your physical state by taking your vitals. These vitals include your blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature.

In non-12-step programs, the focus will remain on assisting your body to rid itself of drugs and alcohol in order to prepare you for inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

In non-12-step programs, the emphasis is on science-backed and evidence-based treatments. One of the greatest advances in addiction treatment was the creation of medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Medication-assisted treatment was created to assist in treating opioid addiction and alcohol use disorders. They are designed to alleviate some, if not all, of the painful and often debilitating withdrawal symptoms that come with quitting a drug or alcohol addiction.

MAT can alleviate the painful withdrawal symptoms that often deter people from seeking treatment in the first place. Once the symptoms of withdrawal have passed, the process of treating the root of the addiction can begin.

Behavioral Therapy

Many people who have a drug or alcohol addiction also have underlying mental health disorders; this is known as having a co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis.

Understanding how your mental health can trigger or lead to your addiction can be beneficial.

Behavioral therapy is used as a dual-diagnosis treatment because treating a mental illness can greatly increase the likelihood of reaching and maintaining sobriety.

Non-12-step programs will focus on self-managing by using medicine and therapy to treat a co-occurring diagnosis.

The two most common types of behavioral therapy used in dual diagnosis treatment are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Group Therapy

Another essential tool for those in recovery is attending group therapy. In non-12-step group therapy sessions, people who have been in or are currently in the same position gather to offer peer support.

In non-12-step programs, rather than relying on a higher power to give you strength, you learn that you can gather strength from within yourself but also from those around you. It can be helpful to talk to people who understand the difficulty of quitting an addiction.

Family Therapy

An important part of returning to normal life after being in a rehab program is repairing relationships with family members. These relationships are often strained or broken during a person’s period of addiction.

For programs that are alternative to 12-step programs, the focus will be on talk therapy and other types of therapy that allow healing to begin.

It is important to keep attending every session to improve not only your familial relationships but also to give you a better chance at sobriety.

Alternative Therapy

Many types of alternative therapies are scientifically proven to be beneficial for treating addiction.

Types of alternative therapies available include the following:

  • Adventure therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Neurofeedback
  • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
  • Yoga, mindfulness, meditation
  • Massage therapy
  • Aromatherapy

Relapse Prevention Planning

Relapse prevention planning is helpful for those who are unsure how they will manage their old stressors and triggers when they enter recovery.

A case manager will sit with you and help map out your plan for reentering your life.

They can help you with plans for handling triggers, finding non-12-step support groups in your area, and more. They will help you gather the tools you have learned through your addiction treatment journey.


Aftercare programs are very helpful for those who are just not quite ready to go back to their old lives. One type of aftercare program is sober living.

In sober living programs, people who have graduated from a rehab program can come and live in a sober, safe, structured environment.

If you are curious about the type of non-12-step aftercare programs available to you, contact one of our addiction treatment specialists today. They can walk you through your options and help get you started on your aftercare journey.

Cost of Non-12-Step Rehab Centers

The cost of your non-12-step rehab program will depend on a number of different factors. It is important to note that many alcohol and drug rehab centers offer payment plans or scholarships if they do not accept insurance.

Factors that can affect the cost of your non-12-step rehab program include:

  • Insurance coverage
  • Your health and age
  • How often you will need treatment
  • What type of treatment is it
  • Where your treatment program is located

Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Non-12-Step Programs?

Whether a person’s insurance will cover the cost of a non-12-step program depends on the insurance company, the insurance plan, whether the program is in-network, and more.

However, due to the fact that most non-12-step programs are not faith-based, most private substance abuse treatment centers offer these programs. These private treatment centers generally accept most major insurances.

What Happens After You Finish Non-12-Step Rehab?

Once a person has successfully graduated from a non-12-step inpatient or outpatient rehab program, they may not feel entirely ready to be entirely independent yet. The good news is there are programs that have planned ahead for these situations.

Options for continuing your sobriety journey include:

  • Sober living — Structured, safe living environments with other people learning to live soberly.
  • Halfway housing — A place where people with criminal backgrounds or substance abuse histories can learn the skills needed to operate in society before living on their own.
  • Transitional housing — This is a temporary option for people exiting a rehab program. It helps them get back on their feet and find their own permanent housing.

Where Can You Find Non-12-Step Rehab Centers Near You?

If you or a loved one are searching for a non-12-step rehab center in order to begin your journey to sobriety, you have a variety of options to help you locate a program near you.

Ways to find non-12-step programs near you include:

  • Your insurance card — If you have insurance, you can flip your insurance card to the back and find the helpline phone number. They will be able to assist you in finding a program.
  • Insurance member portal — You can also log onto your insurance provider’s member site and use their treatment locator option.
  • SAMHSA treatment locator — This government database contains a list of mental and behavioral health treatment centers as well as addiction programs across the US.
  • RehabNet’s addiction treatment directory — Our extensive network of drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs and facilities are categorized by state and treatment type.

Find Non-12-Step Drug and Alcohol Rehab Options

Alternatives to the faith-based Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous plans are widely available.

If you or a loved one are searching for non-12-step alcohol and drug abuse treatment facilities, you have many options.

If you are ready to start your journey to a sober life, help and support are ready and waiting for you. Reach out to one of our addiction specialists, who can go over the treatment, financial, and insurance options available to you. Let us help you begin your journey to recovery today.

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