Do All Sober Living Use the 12 Step Program?

Addiction is an extremely complex disease. If you have been through treatment, from detox to physical wellness and are ready to get out of treatment but don’t have a healthy community situation to move back to, you may choose to go to a sober living facility. Residents of a sober living facility have responsibilities to themselves and others in the facility. Before you can move in, you may need to sign a behavioral agreement, stay at the facility for at least 5 nights per week, and participate in group therapies and meetings, depending on your treatment plan.

Do all sober living facilities use the 12 Step Program? Not everyone is comfortable with the 12 Step Program. If you are not comfortable with the spiritual component, you may prefer to follow the Secular Organizations for Sobriety network. For those who aren’t comfortable in a group setting, the SMART Recovery Self Management training may be more effective. Women may be more comfortable following the Women for Sobriety training program, which offers both positive affirmations as well as group support.

The Religion Question

There are many churches that host sober living programs. Religious counseling is generally a part of the treatment, and many of these houses rely on the 12 Step Addiction Precepts. It should be noted that the 12 Step program has quite a strong track record. That being said, many people dealing with addiction have “hot stove” reactions to anything that feels like a religious restriction. If you needed emotional support or psychological help and got prayers, the idea of dealing with a church program may leave you feeling both drained and helpless. If you have felt as though your life was completely out of control, the idea of letting go and letting God may not offer any comfort whatsoever. Any moral imposition offered by a counselor, group leader or sponsor may leave you feeling both judged and isolated. Depending on where you live and where your sober living facility is located, your 12 Step Sober Living program may actually force you into a community that you want no part of.

When You Need to Pass on the Higher Power

Admitting that we’ve caused harm is tough. The 5th Step of 12 requires us to share the wrongs we’ve committed. For those who are struggling with underlying diagnoses, the addition of admitting our shortcomings in Step 7 can seem quite unfair. Underlying conditions that responded after a fashion to any drug were managed as best you could handle them. The underlying conditions that may have been harming you include

  • depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • personality disorder

While there are some highly addictive drugs out there, most people who become addicted have layers of conditions that need to be addressed once detox is done. Guilt is commonly applied but never helpful in allowing an addict to work through the trauma of their past.

Not Everyone is Good in Group

Group therapy is a great way to remind you that you’re not alone. However, the 12 Steps may feel like self-flagellation for a particularly private person. The struggle of detox can also lead to feelings of paranoia on top of guilt. In these cases, the idea of standing up and admitting our shortcomings could be so uncomfortable as to cause a sense of panic. Finally, there are a lot of addicts who have been through personal experiences in their early life that could have been soul-shattering. If you grew up with an addicted parent who harmed you, standing up and announcing that you’re powerless to anything is not an effective method of gaining support from your peers. Trauma and abuse survivors should be able to join in a group meeting knowing that they will not need to admit any type of weakness

. Often, the only way to cling successfully to your personal strength is to only discuss trauma in one on one counseling. Everyone has their own response to the trauma of life and the challenges of addiction. As noted above, many addicts have gained great comfort and support from 12 Step Programs. However, if you have no desire to open up in such a setting or don’t need the religious pressure which may feel like judgment from your viewpoint, there are other programs out there. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 732-392-7311.

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