Which program is right for me: 12-step or sober living? If you’re asking yourself this question, this article will help you understand more about each alternative, so you can make an informed decision. Although sober living often includes 12-step meetings that may even be mandatory, not all do. There are many alternatives to the 12 steps.
If you’re not comfortable with faith-based programs in general or the 12-steps in particular, you have many other choices. What is Sober Living? Sober living homes are places where people live together and help each other. The only requirement to attend sober living is the desire to remain clean. Although many residents, if not most, attend a drug rehab program first, this is not required. Of course, no drugs or alcohol are allowed at these facilities. Some allow outdoor smoking and vaping; others do not. The nicotine in tobacco is a powerful, addictive, poisonous substance. Many sober living homes do not make an exception for tobacco.
It’s a drug, and it’s gotta go. Sober living is structured, but you can typically come and go as you please. There will be a curfew, you will probably have to do chores, you will have to pay a modest amount of rent and you will probably not have a private room. More than likely, you will have at least one same-sex roommate. Some sober living places are co-ed, but the sexes are always segregated with regard to living quarters. Usually, you will be required to have some sort of meaningful activity to do every day. This could be work, volunteering, school or working around the premises. There will be meetings, such as AA or 12-step, group meetings and other discussions with staff. Some of these will be mandatory. You will be expected to follow the rules whether you agree with them or not.
The 12-Step Program AA’s 12-steps is an escalating tier of steps that you must follow. It’s their path to sobriety. You must first admit that drugs have made your life unmanageable. You must then turn power over your life to your higher power, whatever you conceive that to be. You will then work with a sponsor for the remaining steps, some of which are very complex and emotionally painful. One of the main problems with AA is their attitude about MAT or medication-assisted treatment. If you’re taking any kind of maintenance medication for opioid or alcohol addiction, such as acamprosate, naltrexone or Suboxone, this will not be compatible with the philosophy of AA. It’s not permitted.
Of course, they won’t know unless you tell them, but what is the point of following a program if you’re being deceitful? It’s better to just find another program that doesn’t have such an unreasoning attitude about medications that have been proven to work. All of the above medications are evidence-based, meaning that they have been objectively proven to help former drug abusers stay clean. AA is not evidence-based. Although it’s helped a lot of people to stay clean, its overall failure rate is high. Addiction professionals typically say the AA success rate is no more than 12 percent after five years. For someone on MAT, AA doesn’t make sense. You will not be able to participate in their program and still be honest.
Besides, they’re wrong. If they want to bash MAT, let them remove their approval for tobacco use first. Nicotine is an addictive chemical. Why do they condone this while not allowing members to use MAT? They should be glad MAT is helping so many people instead of criticizing it. AA was founded in the 1930’s. Perhaps they should realize that understanding of brain function and addiction has grown tremendously since then. If you’re not on MAT, then no conflict exists as far as medication goes. However, you should go over the 12 steps in detail before you commit.
Make sure this is something you really want to do and will help you. Some of their steps are emotionally wrenching and can take months and even years to complete. Call us for Help We can provide you with information about 12-step and sober living programs in your area. If you’d rather not attend AA, you don’t have to. We’ll find you a sober living that doesn’t require you to attend a 12-step program if you don’t want to. We’re here to help. Just call us anytime at 833-610-1174. We look forward to speaking with you.