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Non-12-Step Rehab Programs for Addiction

What Is Non-12-Step Drug or Alcohol Rehab?

Like 12-step rehabilitation programs, non-12-step rehab promotes abstinence from drugs and alcohol. However, many secular programs place less emphasis on relying on a higher power than 12-step programs. There also tends to be a stronger sense of self-empowerment in non-12-step programs, as many of these programs avoid labelling addiction as a “disease.”

Difference Between 12-Step and Non-12-Step Rehab Programs

There are various treatment programs available for people who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. While many people might pursue substance use treatment through inpatient or outpatient programs, there are also many who look for help and guidance on their path toward recovery through support groups. The 12-step recovery program, most often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is typically seen as the form that support groups take for those dealing with alcohol use disorder (AUD).

However, this is not the only framework available. There are non-12-step drug rehab and non-12-step alcohol rehab programs that provide alternative options to those for whom the 12-step process might not be the right fit.

Why Choose Non-12-Step Drug and Alcohol Recovery Program?

The AA 12-step process is a mutual support group that offers people the opportunity to use peer bond, sponsor relationships, and self-expression to work toward sobriety. One key component of 12-step rehab programs is the fundamental role of spirituality and faith—which might be problematic for some people.

Non-12-step drug and alcohol rehab centers provide an alternative to those programs. Like 12-step rehabilitation programs, non-12-step rehab promotes abstinence from drugs and alcohol. They also typically place less of an emphasis on faith and spirituality. Additionally, there is often a stronger sense of self-empowerment in these programs.

Checking Your Insurance Coverage

If you are looking for addiction treatment and think your rehab may need to go beyond just support groups, you have various options. In many treatment facilities, rehab includes support groups that can help you find the community support you need. As you consider your options, knowing exactly what your insurance plan covers can give you peace of mind while you or your loved one is in rehab. You can do the work of getting and staying sober without worrying about unexpected costs or financial struggles. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call AAC at or fill out the form below.

What are Some Non-12-Step Rehab Programs?

One of the biggest issues that non-12-step rehab programs face is that they do not have high profiles the way that AA, Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and other 12-step programs have. But they are out there.

There are non-12-step support groups, and to help raise awareness of alternatives to 12-step support groups for those who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, here is some information on additional options you have.1-4

  • SMART Recovery: A non-profit, abstinence-focused organization, SMART Recovery offers free mutual support meetings to people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. It uses scientifically based methods to help members learn short- and long-term coping skills as well as empowering them to alter their behaviors. Instead of 12-steps, the program focuses on 4 core ideals: building and maintaining motivation; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; leading a balanced life.
  • LifeRing Secular Recovery: A network of support groups, LifeRing provides help to individuals who want to live a drug- or alcohol-free life. There is no reliance on a higher power and participants keep their spiritual/religious beliefs private. LifeRing focuses on positive social reinforcement and works to match the right treatment to each individual.
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS): Dedicated to helping people work for and maintain alcohol and drug sobriety, SOS is a nonprofit network of independent, non-professional local groups. It does not focus on a higher power or its function of faith as sobriety.
  • Women for Sobriety: Providing support for women only, this nonprofit organization focuses on 13 acceptance statements. These statements encourage spiritual and emotional growth. WFS focuses on responsibility, positivity, and emotional growth and works to help women alter their negative behavior and thought patterns.
  • Evidence-based treatments
  • Holistic treatments

Are There Treatment Methods That Don’t Use the 12-Steps?

With 12-step groups getting most of the attention, those who are looking for an alternative support system may struggle to find another option and also may worry that the alternatives may not be as effective as 12-step programs are. However, a recent study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment looked at how effective non-12-step programs are compared to the AA framework and found that people who went to support group alternatives expressed a higher level of satisfaction and cohesion while displaying the same level of participation as those who attended 12-step groups.5

For those who are looking for the best non-12-step rehab options, there are alternative strategies for managing or coping with your substance abuse. In addition to non-12-step support groups, there are other options that may help you, including the following:

  • Mindfulness practices
  • CrossFit classes
  • Breathing exercises and meditation
  • Nutritional programming
  • Native American spiritual classes
  • Art therapy and music therapy
  • Yoga classes
  • Adventure therapy
  • Personal development education
  • Experiential therapy

 Are There Benefits to Non-12-Step Drug Rehab Centers?

There are definitely benefits to non-12-step drug rehab and alcohol rehab centers. For many individuals who are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, treatment using the 12 steps may not be the right fit. Non-12-step programs may be a better solution for you for various reasons, including:6

  • You do not want religion and spirituality included in your treatment.
  • You do not believe that addiction is a disease that you cannot control.
  • You believe in scientific approaches to treatment.
  • You want to be viewed as having power and control over your addiction and take responsibility.
  • You want to focus on family and your support systems.
  • You want to treat the roots of your problem.

You will also have the flexibility to choose between non 12 step outpatient rehab or non 12 step inpatient rehab for drug or alcohol addiction. The length of treatment can also be discussed and arranged based on your needs.

How to Find Non-12-Step Rehab Facilities Near Me

Whether you’re looking to go into rehab treatment near you or want to travel, there are various non-12-step programs throughout the country. While they might not be as obvious as some of the 12-step programs, they do exist and can provide you with treatment and support that will help you work toward your recovery—on your own terms.

If you are unsure about where to start, check online for non-12-step rehab programs. Or contact one of our admission navigators , and they will help you find the type of program that will best meet your needs. You can also look at some of the facilities listed below to see if they provide the program you are looking for:

Recommended Rehab Treatment Articles


  1. SMART Recovery. (2019). Fast Facts.
  2. Women for Sobriety. (2017). WFS New Life Program Acceptance Statements.
  3. LifeRing. (n.d.). FAQs.
  4. Secular Organizations for Sobriety. (n.d.). About Us.
  5. Zemore, Sarah E., Kaskutas, Lee Ann., Mericle, Amy., Hemberg, Jordana., (2017). Comparison of 12-step groups to mutual help alternatives for AUD in a large, national study: Differences in membership characteristics and group participation, cohesion, and satisfaction. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 73, 16-26.
  6. Alcoholics Anonymous (2018). Frequently Asked Questions About A.A.

More resources about Non-12-Step Rehab Programs for Addiction: