Although the traditional 12-step approach to addiction recovery is probably the best-known worldwide, it is not for everyone. Devised in the late 1930s by two committed Christians seeking ways of overcoming their own alcoholism, the 12-step program is based on the fundamental belief in a higher power. In this day and age where our society has absorbed and integrated practices, philosophies, traditions and beliefs from diverse cultures, faith-based recovery programs like 12-step no longer resonate with the majority.

In the decades following the foundation of 12-step groups much has changed and now non 12 step rehab is becoming a more common treatment approach. Perhaps the most fundamental difference between traditional and modern attitudes towards addiction is that it is now widely accepted that substance abuse is not a moral issue, but rather a mental illness that can be effectively treated. Elevate is one of the increasing number of addiction therapy practitioners that believe a person should not be defined by their substance abuse.

According to the latest statistics, there are around 15,000 rehab centers offering a wide variety of treatment approaches including both traditional and non-12 step rehab. Due to the fact that addiction is an intensely personal illness affecting people in varying ways, finding the right route to recovery is crucial. Much is known about the 12-step approach, particularly as it has been represented in the media through the years since its inception. However, there is probably less awareness of alternative approaches to 12-step and the benefits they have to offer. In this article, we take a closer look at other methods of achieving long-term sobriety that don’t necessarily require any degree of spirituality.

The Merits of Non-12 Step Rehab in Achieving Recovery

Because times have changed beyond recognition in the past 100-years, the traditional approach to treating addiction no longer represents mainstream attitudes. That said, to a person who is committed to a personal belief system who has total faith their higher being’s ability to steer them to recovery, it is very likely to resonate with them.

While non-12 step rehab is very different in terms of how it defines addiction that is not to say faith-based recovery doesn’t work. Ultimately, 12-step is as effective as it always has been albeit for a declining number of individuals. At Elevate, we take considerable time to get to know each person entering our non 12 step treatment centers so as to fully evaluate their needs in treatment. We cater to individuals who want better mental, physical and emotional health that is not dependent on the guidance or authority of a higher being.

One of the most important considerations a person has when seeking primary treatment for substance abuse is whether options available at non 12 step drug rehab are a good fit for them. This is not just in terms of whether they should opt for outpatient or residential treatment but also that they are completely comfortable with the program’s components. For example, holistic non 12 step treatment centers like Elevate offer a range of complementary therapies such as art & music therapy, yoga, meditation, physical fitness, and nutrition.

Non-12 Step Programs Build a More Effective Recovery Community

One of the reasons 12-step has always been considered to be successful is because of its strong support network that acts as a mechanism to keep members sober. The 12-step support community is famous around the world as being easily accessible and free of charge, making it an easy choice for many seeking help to overcome substance abuse.

However, this support community is only effective if all members have a common belief in the same fundamental principles and this is where 12-step falls short today. These days, an increasing number of people are not committed to any particular religion and neither do they subscribe to any belief-system or philosophy. For these people, finding support through a recovery approach not reliant on these factors is more likely to be effective.

Treating addiction is complex and often made more so by the presence of other health conditions as well as substance abuse. One thing 12-step and its alternatives agree on is that there is no overnight cure for addiction. It is a journey that is often littered with obstacles and always lasts a lifetime and so being surrounded by like-minded people for the long-haul is crucial in promoting successful recovery.

Non-12 Step SMART Recovery Programs Available at Elevate Non 12 Step Treatment Centers

As mentioned above, we take a holistic approach to substance abuse treatment that is not based on 12-step principles. Ultimately, we seek to alleviate the physical and emotional symptoms of addiction while strengthening motivation and boosting confidence in the individual’s ability to live their lives substance-free.

Elevate uses the SMART Recovery method (Self-Management and Recovery Training), which is a widely recognized support approach to treatment that is non-12-step. There is no religious or spiritual element in SMART Recovery which makes it accessible to people from all backgrounds, irrespective of their personal beliefs. The four-point program has been shown to assist people in recovering from all types of substance use and abuse.

SMART Recovery has a significant presence, with face-to-face meetings available around the world. For people who are unable to attend meetings for whatever reason, there are daily meetings scheduled online within the SMART Recovery community, with an online message board and 24/7 chat room. These are tremendously beneficial components that ensure recovering addicts always have access to support wherever they are in the world which in turn promotes long-term recovery.

The Elevate and SMART Approach to Addiction Recovery

The objective of both Elevate’s holistic therapy and SMART Recovery is to support individuals who have made the decision to overcome addiction. This is achieved by encouraging clients to change their self-defeating or negative thoughts or behaviors for more positive action toward considerably improved quality of life.

Our approach to addiction recovery focuses on the following:

  • Teaching self-empowerment and self-reliance
  • Encouraging and motivating individuals towards sobriety
  • Using holistic tools and techniques for self-directed change
  • Learning more about addiction issues through group discussion
  • Advocating the safe use of prescription medications and psychological treatments
  • Providing proactive support and care through recovery

There are four key areas of focus with Elevate’s non-12-step program:

  1. Building and maintaining motivation
  2. Coping with cravings
  3. Managing negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  4. Living a balanced and fulfilling life

Elevate has a very open attitude towards spirituality and we foster an environment where people from all backgrounds feel accepted and welcomed. SMART Recovery works well with our approach to addiction treatment because it is aligned with our secular, non-12 step methods for achieving sobriety.

What makes an Elevate rehab center different is that we combine the SMART Recovery support program with holistic techniques and therapies designed to address the root causes of addiction. In order for an individual to overcome their illness and learn to live with it for many years, it is essential to identify the reasons why they became addicted in the first place.

The holistic approach treats the individual as a whole in terms of mind, body, and spirit. Some of the techniques used at Elevate centers are derived from ancient healthcare practices that existed before conventional medicine. One of the benefits of our holistic rehab programs is that there is a wide variety of activities and therapies available which generally appeal to a broad demographic of clients.

Integrated Holistic Addiction Treatment

While SMART Recovery is important for clients when they have completed an Elevate treatment program, time spent in residential non 12 step drug rehab sets a firm foundation for a life without drugs or alcohol. We feel that by integrating our holistic approach with other proven therapies such as SMART, we offer the best chances of achieving long-term recovery. Each of our integrated holistic treatment programs is tailored to the individual client’s needs and generally include some of the following components:

  • Mindfulness
  • Nutritional Awareness
  • Physical Fitness
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Massage and aromatherapy
  • Experiential therapies such as art & music or adventure therapy

Each component works in the following way:


Mindfulness practices include activities such as meditation, yoga and deep-breathing exercises. The idea is to improve an individual’s self-awareness by guiding them to achieve a completely relaxed state. This can be achieved by focusing on individual body parts, either by stretching or moving them as in yoga or by simply concentrating the mind as in meditation or deep-breathing.

Many people struggling with substance abuse are the victims of an intensely negative internal dialogue that doesn’t let up. This influence serves to keep them trapped in a cycle of substance abuse that is difficult, if not impossible, to get out of without specialist help. Mindfulness is about learning to exist in the moment and to clear the mind of any internal dialogue so that a peaceful place can be reached.

The techniques of mindfulness are extremely beneficial in preventing relapse in recovery as it empowers people to respond in healthier ways to negative stimulus. That said, mindfulness is something that should be incorporated into a daily routine in order to get the full benefits and can help people become much calmer and less stressed in recovery.

Nutritional Awareness

It is not uncommon for people who have been abusing substances to have neglected themselves. This can be across all levels but most importantly in terms of what they eat. Maintaining the correct nutritional balance in the body is important to a person’s overall wellbeing. When someone has been eating a poor diet they are more susceptible to cravings for substances and may be more inclined to experience mood swings, apathy and lack of motivation.

Addressing nutritional imbalances is not a common practice in most rehab centers although Elevate places an important emphasis on it as a component of a holistic rehab program. We feel it is important to reintroduce a balanced diet to patients that is rich in the vital vitamins and nutrients they need to help them combat substance abuse. Strengthening the body with sound nutrition reinforces its natural immunity to disease and illness and significantly improves recovery outcomes.

Physical Fitness

Just as what we put into our body as fuel is important to maintain healthy functions, so is physical fitness. When used as part of a holistic non 12 step drug treatment program, physical exercise has many benefits aside from obtaining a healthy weight and muscle tone. When we exercise, the body produces the same endorphins naturally that are artificially triggered by drugs and alcohol. However, achieving this pleasurable sensation through exercise rather than using substances allows individuals in rehab and recovery to find a healthier way of feeling good.

Being physically fit is also a good weapon against illness and infection and serves to boost self-confidence so that individuals are more confident in living a substance-free life. An Elevate physical fitness program is not designed to train medal-winning athletes of the future; rather it provides education on making small changes to a daily routine to promote better overall health. Even a brisk 10-minute walk every day can have significant benefits for individuals learning to adapt to life after rehab.

Individual and Group Therapy

One-on-one and group therapy is a component found in most addiction treatment programs and has been shown to be highly effective as a support mechanism in recovery. When individuals first enter rehab, they are unlikely to have communicated very much about what they are going through to others. This can be for all sorts of reasons from a fear of being misunderstood or judged or because the individual themselves is not prepared to admit they have a problem.

Having the opportunity to communicate innermost thoughts and feelings in an individual or group therapy environment where there is no chance a person will be judged harshly is invaluable. Rehab centers such as Elevate create a community of clients at varying stages of a recovery journey which continues to offer support long after a program has been completed.

The importance of support from like-minded individuals has been shown to be effective by the success of 12-step although as we have examined in this article, it no longer applies to everyone. Non-12 step programs like those offered at Elevate avoid any kind of religious or spiritual component so that our clients feel comfortable in group meetings regardless of their background.

Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapies are generally activities that push individuals beyond their comfort zone to enable better self-exploration and discovery. At Elevate, we offer the following experiential therapies:

Art and Music Therapy

Art and music provide clients with a different method of communication and expression that can teach them a lot about themselves. It is not necessary to have any artistic talent or musical experience in order to gain a great deal from this therapy. Both art and music have been used for centuries as a valuable form of self-expression. Before committing ideas into action, patients are required to be introspective so that they can tap into the deepest recesses of their minds. Art and music are excellent channels for clients to express thoughts and feelings that they are unable to verbalize in any other way.

Adventure Therapy

Many people who have been in the grips of substance abuse for some time become detached from the world around them. One of the main characteristics of addiction is that a person will continue to abuse drugs or alcohol even when their lives are falling apart or they can’t afford to finance their habit. It is not uncommon for people to enter rehab with a feeling of total disconnection from the world around them which is where adventure therapy can be extremely valuable.

Placing individuals in challenging situations that are well beyond their comfort zone allows them to identify and recognize their personal strengths and weaknesses. Many people are unaware of just how much potential they have for survival unless they are pushed to their limits, which adventure therapy offers in an engaging way. Learning how to work as part of a team or making decisions on behalf of others in order to navigate through a task are important lessons for individuals who have to make significant changes in order to achieve sobriety.