Nov 13

Non-12 Step Programs for Recovery in Canada

There’s no doubt that participating in a support group while in recovery helps Canadians remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol. According to an article published in the Journal of Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, several studies show that engagement in a peer support group can contribute to successful long-term recovery in Canadians. Peer support groups have been shown to significantly reduce relapse rates and help to strengthen long-term recovery.

When thinking of group support and meetings many Canadians only know about 12-step fellowships. However not everyone embraces the 12-step philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous in Canada. Luckily for those who are interested in recovery from drugs or alcohol but still want to participate in support groups there are alternative groups that can provide support for long-term recovery from substance abuse in Canada. 

Let’s take a look at just a few of the options available:

The SMART Program

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is a support program for people with addictions and behavioral disorders. It teaches people how to control their addictive behavior by focusing on underlying thoughts and feelings. Participants in SMART learn skills to manage their cravings and urges for the long term. SMART continuously updates its methods based on emerging scientific evidence in addiction recovery.

In contrast to 12-step programs that require participants to admit powerlessness over their habit, SMART considers itself a self-empowering program. Trained volunteers help participants examine specific behaviors to find problems that need the most attention.

Participants are then taught self-reliance to control their addictive behavior. SMART uses techniques from cognitive behavioral and motivational enhancement therapies to teach these skills.

The SMART Recovery Handbook details each point in the 4-point program. It also provides tips and exercises to maintain a sober life but the 4-point program is not a step program. Participants can tackle a specific point in any order based on their needs.

  1. Building and maintaining motivation. Having the proper willingness to stay sober is an important part of reaching long-lasting recovery. Participants may make a list of priorities and weigh the costs and benefits of using versus being sober.
  2. Coping with urges. The second point examines what triggers a craving. Participants learn how to suppress cravings through methods such as distraction techniques. They also identify and overcome irrational beliefs about urges to use.
  3. Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Point three teaches how to prevent relapse by examining thoughts, feelings and behaviors that lead to drug use. Participants learn self-acceptance and how to manage difficult feelings like depression.
  4. Living a balanced life. Deciding to be sober is a drastic lifestyle change. Learning how to live a sober life is important for a successful recovery. In point four, participants take an inventory of what’s important to them. They are also taught realistic goal setting and planning for the future.

LifeRing Secular Recovery:

LifeRing is about providing an abstinence-based, secular, and self-empowered addiction recovery pathway through meetings and a support network

LifeRing Secular Recovery is an organization of people who share practical experiences and sobriety support. The belief is there as many ways to live free of drugs and alcohol as there are stories of successful sober people. Many LifeRing members attend other kinds of meetings or recovery programs as well. LifeRing respectfully embraces what works for each individual.

LifeRing believes you do have the power to overcome your addiction. It’s hard, there are often setbacks, but in every addict there exists the desire to find lasting sobriety. They think of that as the “Sober Self”. With addiction, that part of us has been beaten down and relegated to a corner of our brains, but it’s still there. They also believe we have an “Addict Self” that wants to control our decision-making and lead us to use the substance that is wrecking our lives. LifeRing tries to support your efforts to strengthen the Sober Self and weaken the Addict Self. 

The meetings, whether in person or online, consist of addicts using their Sober Self to connect with the Sober Self of other addicts. They share advice, understanding, and encouragement. They focus primarily on current lives, not on the hurts and damages of the past. Two addicts, talking Sober-Self to Sober-Self, learn from each other and gain strength from each other.

Their approach is that they think you are the best person to design your own program – you know what’s needed in your life and what has to be abandoned. You know what triggers cravings and what provides healthy and strengthening pleasure. You know the path you want to be on and you are the only person who can figure out how best to get there. LifeRing provides safe and supportive contact with others that enables that process to succeed.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS):

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a nonprofit network of autonomous, non-professional local groups, dedicated solely to helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety/abstinence from alcohol and drug addiction, food addiction and more.

The program stresses the need to place the highest priority on sobriety and uses mutual support to assist members in achieving this goal. The Suggested Guidelines for Sobriety emphasize rational decision-making and are not religious or spiritual in nature. SOS represents an alternative to the spiritually based addiction recovery programs like 12-Step Programs. SOS members may also attend 12-step meetings, but SOS does not view spirituality or surrendering to a God or Higher Power as being necessary.

SOS recognizes genetic and environmental factors contributing to addiction, but allows each member to decide whether or not alcoholism is a disease. SOS holds the view that alcoholics can recover (addictive behaviors can be arrested), but that ultimately it is never cured; relapse is always possible. SOS does not endorse sponsor/sponsee relationships.

The SOS program is based on the Suggested Guidelines for Sobriety, that emphasize the “sobriety priority.” In order to change, members must make abstinence their top priority: not drinking despite changing conditions in their lives. SOS suggests members follow a daily, three part, Cycle of Sobriety: acknowledgment of their addiction, acceptance of their addictions and prioritization of maintaining sobriety. Members are also encouraged to develop strategies or aphorisms that strengthen their resolve to maintain sobriety. on what SOS teaches.

Moderation Management (MM):

Moderation Management (MM) is a behavioral change program and national support group network for people concerned about their drinking and who desire to make positive lifestyle changes. MM empowers individuals to accept personal responsibility for choosing and maintaining their own path, whether moderation or abstinence. MM promotes early self-recognition of risky drinking behavior, when moderate drinking is a more easily achievable goal. MM is run by members who came to the organization to resolve personal issues and continue to stay and help others.

MM offers a supportive mutual-help environment that encourages people who are concerned about their drinking to take action to cut back or quit drinking before drinking problems become severe.

A nine-step professionally reviewed program, which provides information about alcohol, moderate drinking guidelines and limits, drink monitoring exercises, goal setting techniques, and self-management strategies. As a major part of the program, members also use the nine steps to find balance and moderation in many other areas of their lives, one small step at a time.

MM believes behaviors can be changed. MM agrees with many professionals and researchers in the field that alcohol abuse, versus dependence, is a learned behavior (habit) for problem drinkers, and not a disease. This approach recognizes that people who drink too much can suffer from varying degrees of alcohol-related problems, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. A reasonable early option for problem drinkers is moderation. Seriously dependent drinkers will probably find a return to moderate drinking a great challenge, but the choice to accept that challenge remains theirs.

Moderation is a reasonable, practical, and attainable recovery goal for many problem drinkers. Outcome studies indicate that brief intervention programs are successful and cost effective.

One-on-One or Non-Group Therapy Approaches in Canada:

Evidence-Based Treatment:

Evidence-based treatment is just as it sounds. The American Psychological Association defines evidence-based practice as “the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture and preferences.” Evidence-based treatment is an effective way of helping those suffering from drug addiction, depression and other issues. 

By conducting evidence-based treatment in the right environment and with experienced clinicians, the road to recovery doesn’t have to feel unachievable. This treatment is an effective way of providing real-world, successful therapies to addiction and mental health issues so that people can witness positive and motivational outcomes.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a common form of therapy widely used in Canada to treat a variety of issues, such as personality disorders, depression, anxiety and dual disorders. CBT is a talk therapy that can help you manage your everyday problems in life by changing the way you think and perceive your problems to be. 

Through a series of sessions with professional therapists, those suffering with dysfunctional and destructive thoughts and behaviors can experience an awakening or get more clarity, in which they begin to see, feel and understand the world in a different way. Their view becomes more positive and receptive to the world around them. Conducted in the safe environment of private detox and rehabilitation in Canada, it’s an effective solution to a more balanced and healthy mind, body and soul.

How Do I Choose the Right Program for Me?

With so many options available in Canada it helps to work with a professional drug and alcohol professional or interventionist to select the right program for you. Our admissions navigators are available to speak with you about treatment options and recovery support systems at any time of day. Call us today for a free consultation to get help for yourself or a loved one at  1-888-963-9116. We are waiting to help you now and can be meeting with you in person anywhere in Canada within 48 hours.

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