12 Step Rehab
The study of addiction and treatment has produced some general principles that give the most hope for recovery. One of these is that “longer rehabilitation periods give better results.” Three to six-months of rehab are becoming more common — as opposed to just a week or two of withdrawal treatment and then release.
A 12 step rehab incorporates the longer stay with a structured program designed to augment professional treatment. Participants are expected to attend 12 step meetings and make progress during their stay. Rarely does a quality program consist of 12 steps alone, rather, it is an additional therapy/service, except in those situations where no other option is available. A prison environment might be one example where 12 step rehab is the only offering.
There are several advantages to a 12 step rehab over waiting until someone is out in the “world” before they begin. One is the ability to focus on their recovery while being protected to some extent from outside influences which, in many cases, led them to addiction in the first place. Lessening distractions makes progress more likely and avoids temptations. Another advantage is enough time to start healing physically and mentally – making a 12 step program more effective.
One disadvantage is that some 12 step rehabs continually have new members showing up and those with the most time leaving. This can be overcome by allowing members who are not currently in treatment to attend. Those with long term sobriety can then add their experience and knowledge to the mix. Unfortunately, this is sometimes prevented because of patient confidentiality concerns or liability worries.
Another problem that can arise with a 12 step rehab program is a kind of “cliquish” nature. Meetings might devolve into a gab-fest with nothing being accomplished, simply because they are often not supervised by professional staff. The lack of oversight actually makes 12 step programs attractive – it’s a low cost add-on to what would otherwise be more expensive group counseling.
Some treatment facilities allow their patients to attend outside meetings, and while that entails a certain level of trust (and risk) the benefits of having this connection to the larger addiction community may override concerns.