Though AA has strong recognition in the addiction treatment community because of its track record and longevity, there are other aftercare support programs that have similar results. This article gives a brief overview of SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety, and LifeRing Secular Recovery. How are these programs and AA alike? How do they differ? Why are multiple options a good thing for the addiction treatment community?
An article in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment compared the efficacy of ongoing addiction treatment programs, including SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety, and LifeRing Secular Recovery as compared to 12-step groups. The study looked at the effectiveness of these programs for those with alcohol use disorder and tentatively concluded that these three programs were just as effective as 12-step recovery programs. That is probably because these programs are actually more similar than different on the whole.
So, what are the differences and similarities between these long-term meeting and recovery programs? Here is a breakout of each.
Each of these programs focuses on self-help techniques and a guiding philosophy for lives that have become out-of-balance. They all seek to help former substance users confront their daily fears and hopes while addressing ways to build daily affirmations in a framework for improvement and recovery.
These programs are strongly peer-to-peer, emphasizing the actionable insight that comes from people who have been through the disease and have successfully transitioned to recovery. They use the power of the personal story as a touchstone of meetings and discussions. These stories have tremendous power to positively influence others.
One difference between these programs is that the traditional AA 12-step programs focus on actual activities including higher-power-focused activities in a behavioral therapeutic approach.
However, each of these programs, including AA, seeks to build back lives that have been torn apart by substance use. How they go about it is very similar; it is the nuance in the messaging that is different. But each program is designed to create positive changes in the lives of former substance users.
These programs emphasize motivation and goal setting while dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of substance abuse recovery. Each is effective at potentially helping patients with the long-term process of continuing care in a recovery setting.
Clinicians and addiction specialists can be glad that studies indicate that these aftercare support programs are all effective in helping recovering addicts maintain long-term sobriety.
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