What are the Best Treatments for Supplementing 12 Step Programs?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “In the United States, many public and private substance use disorder treatment programs… subscribe to the 12-step-based approach organized around the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).” As this approach has been studied many times over, it has been proven to be a viable treatment option for individuals attempting to recover from substance abuse and to start their lives over again.

However, often the best way to utilize a 12-step program for addiction treatment is to supplement it with other treatment options in order to build a well-rounded program for each recovering individual. Below are some of the best treatment options you can use in addition to the 12-step method.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse states, “Medications can be used to help with different aspects of the treatment process.” In many cases, they can benefit individuals struggling with severe withdrawal symptoms by minimizing these issues so their focus can return to recovery and therapy. Pharmacological treatments can also reduce cravings, “reestablish normal brain function,” help to prevent relapse, and treat other problems. Currently, medications exist for the treatment of opioid, tobacco, and alcohol addiction while those for stimulant and marijuana addiction are still being developed.

Medications can help minimize the number of issues a person is experiencing as a result of their choice to stop abusing drugs, whether these problems are related to their withdrawal symptoms or to their general recovery. This can help individuals focus more easily on their 12-step program and its benefits, as they will not be constantly fighting with their easily treatable symptoms. Some individuals do not want medications to be a part of their treatment program, but when the option is available, it can often make the entire treatment and recovery period much safer and less traumatic.

Behavioral Therapies

12-step programs help teach recovering addicts how to interact with and rely on others as well as how to take responsibility for their actions and identify their addictions. Behavioral therapies help individuals identify their harmful behavior from the past, understand why they engaged in the behavior, and learn coping skills to help them avoid this same behavior in the future.

Many programs exist that utilize behavioral therapies and 12-step programs together, helping to prepare individuals for both types of treatment. For example, 12-step facilitation therapy is a type of behavioral therapy that is meant to increase the likelihood that an individual will eventually attend a 12-step program. These treatments often work in tandem to help addicted individuals open up about their drug abuse and the ways in which it harmed them. Both treatments help recovering addicts make changes for the better and become stronger.

Traditional behavioral therapy, where an individual speaks one-on-one to a counselor, can be a very beneficial in addition to a 12-step-based treatment program because it allows the patient to receive the benefits both of individualized and group discussions. And, according to the NIDA, “Behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment,” making them an ideal part of a well-rounded rehabilitation program.


The NIDA states, “Most drug addiction treatment programs encourage patients to participate in group therapy during and after formal treatment” because it helps recovering individuals engage with others. However, there are some instances where it can be hard to share certain thoughts and feelings with other members of a group, especially when you haven’t admitted them to yourself.

Journaling can be a wonderful supplemental treatment that can help you organize your feelings to the point where you can share them more easily with others. Writing down how you feel every day can make you bolder and more ready to talk to counselors, as well as other members of your support group. It can also show you how far you’ve come in your recovery. In addition, there may be some feelings you may not want to share with those in your support group, or anyone, but writing them down allows you to acknowledge them, which can still be an enormous benefit.


It is important, as stated, to have healthy lifestyle goals as a recovering addict. Sleeping and eating regularly are vital, as well as having an exercise routine. Exercise has been found to minimize the likelihood of substance abuse in many populations, and it also promotes the kind of health and wellness needed most by those who are attempting to help their body and mind recover from drug abuse (NIDA).

It can even be beneficial to attend a class like yoga, Tai Chi, or a general exercise class in a gym while you are also attending regular 12-step meetings. If you feel comfortable, you could even invite others from your group to the exercise class and support one another in your decision to create a healthy goal for yourselves. This can help you engage more readily in both the exercise itself and celebrate the benefits you are receiving for your overall recovery.

You Have Many Options to Choose From!

dance therapy

Dance therapy can be used to treat addiction.

The bottom line is that addiction treatment often works best if the program is tailored to the needs of the recovering addict. If you decide to become a member of a 12-step group and want to utilize other treatment options during your recovery, find those that best benefit you. Some other treatment options for addiction, both traditional and nontraditional, include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Homeopathy
  • Dance or movement therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Hypnosis
  • Religious-based treatment
  • Mobile apps
  • Pet therapy
  • Gardening therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Herbalism
  • Other types of support groups (online, secular, etc.)

Many of these treatments can be used together to help build a well-rounded treatment program for you, and attending 12-step meetings and abiding by the program’s philosophies can be an important part of your journey. But when you use multiple treatments, you are likely to create a rehabilitation program that supports you during your recovery and helps you return to the person you want to be.

Want to Learn More About 12-Step Programs?

Call 888-905-9004 today to discuss the benefits of these programs and how and where you can begin attending meetings in your area.

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