People often assume only atheists or agnostics have a problem with the deep religious influence in traditional 12 Step treatment. Interestingly enough, even those with strong religious backgrounds or spiritual beliefs have taken issue with the 12 step model.
The reason is many have recognized that the 12 steps are not targeted towards recovery, but instead focused towards just managing the problem. The twelve-step doctrine promotes its primary objective as ‘enabling you to find a power greater than yourself – which will help solve your problem.’ Notice how it does not mention overcoming the problem through personal growth, but rather blind faith in something other than themselves.
The entire concept of the 12 Steps is ineffective. Sitting around having a discussion does nothing to empower the individual. True substance abuse recovery starts with detoxification of the body to rid oneself of the immediate temptation and then continues with 1-on-1 counseling. What are the triggers that lead to drug use? What are the social or physical triggers that prompt the use of drugs? A non-faith based program applies proven scientific methods to address those and other issues. The result is a tailored program to the individual’s specific needs; recognizing that the person is an individual who has their own unique struggles which require more than just a generic response.
With faith-based treatment, everyone uses the exact same steps. If they don’t work, there are two types of response: “you did not pray hard enough” or “we have to recognize that this may be part of the ‘Plan’.” Both are unacceptable. How many times do they have to pray each day to succeed? And what happens when you tell someone they were likely to fail in the first place, despite their best efforts? In reality, you are telling them that no matter what they do, they are not in control.
It is not possible to ignore the religious tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The values may be difficult for some to accept and they point to the following:
Non faith-rehab is not just for those who identify as agnostic or atheist. One of the reasons that many seek out non-religious or non-faith based rehab facilities is because the 12 step program is not focused on recovery. It only talks about managing the problem, not overcoming it. This is not an issue with any particular religious denomination.
Indeed they are. Non faith-based rehab focuses on dealing with the problem of addiction and the underlying triggers. This is not about needing to revert to a specific religion or renouncing your current religion.
Yes, non faith-based rehab programs focus on being self-empowered rather than relying on a Higher Power. Within the first two of the twelve tenets of the 12 step program, the person struggling with dependence has to admit that only a Power higher than themselves can help restore their sanity, and that they are powerless against the lure of alcohol. Non-faith based rehab programs are about finding the strength from within to stop drinking alcohol or stop abusing drugs.
Enrolling in a non-faith based program means that the recovery professionals that you work with rely on science, evidence and observation. This means making changes and alterations to things that do not work instead of assuming that something works without actual evidence. Instead of forcing the patient to adapt to the program, the program adapts to the patient.