If I Attend 12 Step Support Groups Regularly, Do I Really Need a Drug Treatment Program?
Seeing an addiction for what it is can be one of the most difficult steps a person takes in recovery. From there the decision to get needed treatment help can be wrought with much indecision in terms of the type of program to enter. The thought of entering a 30- or 60-day treatment program can seem overwhelming and may seem like a bit too much as far as “needed” treatment goes.
Within the drug treatment process, 12-Step support groups play an essential role in helping recovering addicts overcome the effects of addiction in their day-to-day lives. While highly effective, 12-Step support group attendance may or may not be enough when it comes to maintaining ongoing abstinence for any length of time. For these reasons, it’s important to identify and consider your specific treatment needs to ensure you’re getting the level of care that best equips you to live a drug-free life.
The Role of 12 Step Support Groups in Recovery
Addictive substances interact with the brain on a chemical level, altering neurotransmitter outputs and over time reconfigure chemical pathways throughout the brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these effects change the way the brain works in terms of its ability to manage physical and cognitive processes. In effect, chronic alcohol and drug addiction not only warps the brain on a physical level, but also impairs a person’s overall psychological stability.
Over time, critical brain functions become compromised, most notably the brain reward system. The way this system functions ultimately determines how a person copes with daily life. Once brain chemical imbalances start to affect the brain reward system, it comes to view drug effects as an essential part of a person’s daily life. These changes take shape within the addict’s priorities, motivations, thinking and behaviors.
The role of 12 Step support groups in recovery works to help addicts replace addiction-based coping mechanisms with healthy ways of managing daily life on a drug-free basis. These benefits account for why 12 Step support groups play a role within most every stage of the drug rehab process.
Your Specific Treatment Needs
While 12 Step support groups offer a range of benefits in terms of helping a person overcome addiction, a person’s specific treatment needs at any given time depend on a range of factors. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, factors influencing treatment need include:
- Severity of addiction
- Length of time in treatment
- Stage of recovery a person is in
- Presence or absence of mental health issues
- Presence or absence of chronic medical conditions
- Presence or absence of a healthy support system
- Drug history in terms of relapse episodes and number of past attempts at drug treatment
In general, anyone who’s developed a full-blown addiction problem requires some form of structured treatment, such as residential care, or at the very least, outpatient treatment. Ultimately, without the needed level of structured treatment care, a person faces a high risk of relapse regardless of whether he or she attends 12 Step support group meetings on a regular basis.
If you or someone you know are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction and have more questions about available treatment options, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-653-7143 to speak with one of our addiction specialists.