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Alternative Alcohol And Drug Rehab Centers

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 30, 2019

Alternative rehab facilities see addiction as not only a disease that is treatable, but one that is curable. Treatment methods found in these programs are grounded in science and evidence-based. For those seeking a new approach to overcome addiction, alternative rehab may be the best choice.

Alternative Rehabilitation—What It Is and Isn’t

When most people think of addiction treatment or drug rehab, they first think, understandably, of the decades-old 12-step program. It has been around a long time and has seen some success. But addiction experts are beginning to question the underlying premise of the 12-step approach to addiction treatment.

Rather than seeing addiction as a “disease” that can only be treated and never fully cured, alternative approaches posit that addiction is not only treatable, but entirely curable. In this model, addiction isn’t a disease, but rather the outcome of poor decisions deriving from the inability to deal with life’s problems. After learning how to analyze their reactions to various difficult circumstances in their lives, substance abusers are then able to utilize new skills founded on personal responsibility and self-confidence. It works if there is dedication, persistence, and a firm commitment to success.

Alternative rehab, however, should not be confused with other practices outside mainstream medical care that also adopt the term “alternative.” It is not associated with any fringe science.

Statistical and Practical Support for Alternative Rehabilitation

Alternative treatment has a pretty impressive track record. Traditional 12-step programs have a long-term success rate of around 5%. Alternative programs, on the other hand, have success rates of 50% and higher. These success rates are so impressive because the programs are grounded in science—predictable, workable, and repeatable.

Alternative treatment is also practically sound in its treatment methods. For example:

  • It doesn’t trap people into thinking they are life-long addicts even though they no longer abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Many years of successful outcomes attest to its effectiveness.
  • The long-term success rates are much higher than those for traditional approaches.
  • It is firmly established and enjoys a good reputation with academics and addiction researchers.

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Some Examples of Alternative Rehabilitation

Alternative rehab programs lean heavily on what is known as the social education model. It aims to help people regain control of their lives and jettison the need for drugs and/or alcohol. A lot of the success, it seems, resides in the carefully chosen labels.

Some examples of alternative rehab programs include:

Narconon, for example, calls enrollees not “patients,” but “students,” because they are not being treated for an illness. And the students don’t call themselves “recovering addicts” for the remainder of their lives because they are recovered. The intent of this program is to help people learn to take responsibility, stand on their own, and live ethical, substance-free lives.

Enrollees in another program are called “guests,” and the program itself is never labeled “rehab” or “treatment.” In yet another alternative program, enrollees are also called “guests.” They are not undergoing “treatment,” but behavior-modification and life-skills training, as well as training in modifying cognitive behavior.

Treatment for substance abuse today is no longer limited to traditional or “addiction-as-disease” approaches. Contact us today for free information about alternative rehab and find out if it’s right for you.

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