Although there are various models that can treat an addiction, the twelve-step model has longevity and high recovery rates on its side. Other therapeutic methods such as Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have also been successful in treating addiction. However, while the 12-step model includes a culture, a community, and conversations with a higher being that might make it the right type of treatment for an individual beginning their recovery process. Despite, this, let’s explore the differences between some of these treatment forms.
The characteristic quality of Motivational Interviewing is its focus on eliciting an adult’s intrinsic desire to change. Because recovering from an addiction is a path that only you can walk, the desire to change must come from within. All the therapeutic tools and medication might be available for you, but if you are not ready to let go of your addiction, then it will most likely remain a significant disturbance in your life.
For this reason, Motivational Interviewing seeks to evoke your intrinsic desire to change. It does this by exploring your ambivalence to changing behavior, given the pros and cons of using drugs. Exploring and resolving this ambivalence is the goal of this type of therapy. It is a gentle, empathic, yet goal-oriented that requires a skillful therapist to have productive conversations that are sensitive to emotions, inner struggles, and symptoms of any co-occurring mental illnesses. It does not use any coercive methods to change behavior or pressure that might induce feelings of guilt or shame.
One of the ways that the 12-step model attempts to address this ambivalence is through the first step, which is to admit one’s addiction. Essentially, when an individual can admit their powerlessness over alcohol, they might be more likely to make the changes they need in order to get sober, and thus, reducing their ambivalence towards sober living.
Another form of treatment is behavioral therapy, which examines the attitudes, beliefs, and thought patterns you have that contribute to a dysfunctional lifestyle. For instance, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically, is a form of psychotherapy that addresses unhealthy patterns of thought that lead to making poor choices. CBT also provides healthier coping mechanisms to help manage challenging emotions, triggering life circumstances, and stress, replacing any old methods of coping that may have furthered dysfunction and stress. CBT can also enhance the effectiveness of any treatment medication that you might be taking.
Returning to the 12-step model, step four, which is to make a fearless moral inventory of oneself, also invites the exploration of one’s inner thoughts and beliefs that might inhibit recovery.
Of course, CBT and Motivational Interviewing can be used in addition to participating in an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) program. In fact, employing all three of these models could certainly enhance the journey towards sobriety. The added benefit of the 12-step model is the inclusion of a higher being.
Although some individuals who suffer from an addiction might be opposed to spirituality as a part of a recovery program, it’s what makes the model so effective. More than half of the 12 steps invite communication or relationship with a higher being, and there’s a reason for that. A relationship with a higher being facilitates a greater sense of power within oneself versus the powerlessness that leads to addiction in the first place.
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