You Choose Your Path


Modern day paths to recovery from addiction are varied, a fortunate development from the time when there were few options. There are now myriad approaches to help those who struggle with addiction and their families. The most popular have been 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) with various iterations for other addictions. For families, Al-Anon and Alateen and Nar-Anon and Narateen are popular self-help support programs. There are also some other popular but less known programs like Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) and Secular Organizations for Sobriety or Save Our Selves (SOS). There are more options for special groups such as Wellbriety, an approach that draws on the culture of Native Americans and integrates 12-Step concepts, Women For Sobriety (WFS), a program developed by women for women, Refuge Recovery, which adapts the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and Eight Fold Path, and Celebrate Recovery, a Christian system built on the principles of a 12-Step program. There are even treatments and programs to address addictions by trying to teach moderation like Moderation Management (MM groups). Those programs are typically seen as unsuitable for the truly addicted but of course should not be rejected out of hand without exploration. Mostly, those who are serious about recovery from addiction must ultimately consider abstaining. There just does not appear to be any significant upside to the recreational or even medicinal use of most psychoactive drugs or alcohol for people vulnerable to addiction; however, working with and getting advice from a physician who understands addiction is advisable.

Also, none of the various programs or approaches have enough conclusive research to point to a preferred, better-than-most method for every individual in every circumstance. However, one aspect of success in recovery that is true across the board is that a person must want to recover. Without that there isn’t much hope of recovery. It doesn’t mean that there is not value to family-forced or court-ordered recovery; it just means at one point the person who is predisposed to addiction must have the desire to be sober and free from chemical use for more than family-forced or court ordered reasons. It is true that once the family lets up, gets tired of the oversight or the court is satisfied and releases the person with a substance use disorder from its grip, that person often returns to their drinking or using. However, sometimes recovery-mindedness may take hold even in a forced situation, and weeks, months or even years down the line that forced sobriety may provide just enough of a glimpse into how to abstain for the person who was struggling to return to whatever program they were in only to be successful in recovery this time.