Twelve-Step Programs Used in Drug Rehabs: Good or Bad?

When it comes to treatment, twelve-step programs take domain as the basics of maintaining recovery. Many have experienced much success in recovery by joining twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous; however, researchers often assert that evidence-based addiction treatment programs offered by quality rehabilitation facilities are the optimal route toward a lasting recovery.

Most addiction treatment programs put a major emphasis on counseling and psychotherapy, which is intended to help individuals identify and overcome the underlying factors that caused or contributed to the development of their addictions.

Additionally, many programs offer a variety of optional therapies and services with which clients can personalize their recovery experiences, which is meant to ensure that each individual’s needs are addressed and met. With twelve-step programs being such a valuable, effective resource for many people, it follows that a number of recovery facilities would incorporate the twelve-step method into their programming.

On the other hand, some have suggested that twelve-step-based programs impede on one’s religious freedom, which includes the right to not be religious or spiritual.

The Spirituality of Twelve-Step Programs

There’s a common misconception that twelve-step programs are religious in nature and, therefore, require all members to ascribe to a certain religion. However, that’s not actually the case. Although belief can be a major part of the twelve-step recovery method, twelve-step programs are not actually religious.

Instead, twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are spiritual rather than religious. As part of the inherent spirituality, individuals in twelve-step programs are encouraged to incorporate their own personal beliefs into the process rather than any particular belief or body of beliefs.

In other words, while being a spiritually-oriented form of recovery, twelve-step programs offer a mere template into which individuals can insert components of whichever systems of belief to which they might ascribe.

Do Faith-based Rehabs Violate Religious Liberties?

With there being a number of addiction treatment programs that incorporate elements of the twelve-step method, many have suggested that spiritual or religious programming impedes on one’s religious freedom and the choice to not be religious by forcing those of other beliefs or no beliefs to participate in a religious program.

In effect, these individuals assert that spiritual and religious programming like those at twelve step-based rehabs impose spirituality and religion onto clients rather than allowing them to choose whether they want a spiritual recovery curriculum. The fact that “God” is mentioned throughout the Twelve Steps and in the ever-popular Serenity Prayer are usually cited as evidence that twelve step-based rehabs force specific sets of beliefs onto non-religious clients.

Atheist Sues Rehab for Forcing Him to Submit to a Higher Power

In California, a man who suffered from addiction to crystal methamphetamine received a court order to enroll in an addiction treatment program at a facility called Empire Recovery Center in the city of Redding. Having been serving a prison sentence, the order stated that the defendant could enter the treatment program in lieu of completing his prison sentence.

After arriving at the treatment center, he was informed that the facility—which offers programming that’s heavily influenced by the twelve-step method—requires clients to submit to a higher power over the course of treatment. The defendant happened to be an atheist and, accordingly, refused to submit himself to any higher power as part of his treatment despite other clients telling him to simply fake the submission.

In response, the facility turned the man in as having violated the program’s requirements, which sent the man back to prison and inspired him to sue the facility. In a court settlement with the state of California and the rehab, the defendant was awarded a $2 million judgment for having his religious liberties so blatantly violated.

Understanding Twelve Step-based Rehabs

While there many be outliers or cases that are more extreme than one would normally find, twelve-step-based rehabs don’t typically force clients to submit to a higher power or commit themselves to any specific beliefs. The purpose of incorporating the twelve-step method into a rehabilitation program is to ensure that clients who would prefer a spiritual component to recovery feel that they’re receiving comprehensive care and treatment. This type of programming isn’t supposed to be forced onto every client.

Instead, it’s supposed to be an elective emphasis. Additionally, although some Twelve Step literature might mention “God”, the spiritual nature of the twelve-step method is intended to be very adaptable and flexible, allowing individuals to incorporate their own beliefs or systems of belief into the twelve-step recovery process. In effect, it’s intended to allow spiritual personalization rather than be a violation of one’s religious liberties.

Find Peace in Recovery with Drug Treatment Center Finder

Those who find themselves in need of an addiction treatment program will find a wide variety of services and offerings, which are to accommodate a wide breadth of needs and preferences. At Drug Treatment Center Finder, our goal is to match any addict to the programming that best addresses their needs, allowing him or her to achieve long-lasting sobriety.

For a free consultation and assessment, call us at 855-619-8070. Our specialists are available anytime to help you or even a loved one begin the recovery process. With one phone call, begin the journey to a life of happiness and health today.

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