12-Step vs Alternatives: Finding the Right California Recovery Group

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Twelve-step programs certainly work, but everyone needs to find their own path to recovery. If you’re looking for a California recovery group that’s an alternative to 12-step programs, read on to learn more.

What Is a Recovery Group?

A recovery group, often referred to as a recovery support group, is a gathering of individuals who share the goal of overcoming addiction or managing a specific issue, such as substance abuse, mental health disorders, or behavioral problems. These groups provide a supportive environment where members can share experiences, offer mutual support, and employ specific strategies to help maintain recovery.

The concept of recovery groups began with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. AA was informed by a spiritual perspective, which can be seen in its 12-step program, also known as the 12 traditions of recovery:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The first AA in California was founded in 1939 in San Diego. That makes it the oldest California recovery group.

AA’s 12-step program was wildly successful. That led to AA groups blooming throughout the country. This success then led to other groups, like Narcotics Anonymous. The spiritual principles of the 12 steps of NA are based on those of AA. Some people are turned off by the spiritual aspect of AA and NA and want 12-step group alternatives. One of the most popular is SMART Recovery, a California recovery group that stresses secular principles over spiritualism.

The name SMART is an acronym that stands for Stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. This group uses a 4-point program that includes building motivation, coping with urges, managing thoughts and behaviors, and living a balanced life. Unlike 12-step programs, SMART Recovery is based on scientific knowledge and is secular. It’s a solid choice for someone looking for an alternative California recovery group.

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How Do Recovery Support Groups Help?

People attend recovery support groups primarily for the community of individuals who understand the challenges of overcoming addiction. These groups offer a safe and non-judgmental space where members can share their experiences and struggles with substance abuse, mental health issues, or other addictive behaviors.

The sense of camaraderie and mutual understanding gained from participating in a California recovery group is vital for many. It alleviates the loneliness and isolation that often accompany addiction. Recovery groups help individuals maintain sobriety by offering ongoing support, practical advice, and proven strategies for dealing with cravings and relapse.

The benefits of participating in recovery support groups include:

  • Mutual Support: Members provide emotional support to each other, which can reduce feelings of isolation and help build a network of peers who understand the journey of recovery.
  • Accountability: Regular meetings and the group’s structure provide a sense of accountability, which can be highly motivating in maintaining sobriety or managing behaviors.
  • Shared Experience: Learning from the experiences of others who have faced similar challenges and have maintained recovery can be incredibly inspiring and educational.
  • Structure and Routine: Attending regular meetings can bring structure and routine into the lives of individuals who may have lived in chaos during active addiction.
  • Anonymity and Safety: Groups often emphasize confidentiality, which can make members feel safe sharing personal experiences and struggles.
  • Access to Resources: Many groups provide resources about treatment options, educational materials, and sometimes professional counseling referrals.
  • Spiritual Growth: Especially in groups that follow the 12-step model, there’s an emphasis on spiritual growth and finding a higher purpose, which can be transformative for many participants.
  • Lifelong Learning: Recovery is a continuous process, and participation in support groups can provide ongoing learning and personal development.

By fostering an environment of growth, acceptance, and support, recovery groups play a vital role in helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety and improve their overall quality of life.

Which California Recovery Group Is Right for Me?

Choosing the right recovery group in California—or anywhere else—depends on your specific needs, beliefs, and the substance or behavior you are trying to manage.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when selecting a recovery group:

  • Substance or Behavior: Choose a group that focuses on your specific issue, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, or a behavioral problem.
  • Philosophical or Spiritual Orientation: Some groups, like those following the 12-step model, involve a spiritual component, while others like SMART Recovery are secular and based on scientific principles.
  • Group Dynamics: Attend a few meetings to see if the group’s style and dynamics fit your comfort level. It’s important that you feel safe and supported.
  • Location and Schedule: Look for a group that meets at a time and place convenient for you, as regular attendance is crucial for effective support.
  • Anonymity and Privacy: Consider how the group handles confidentiality, as this can impact your willingness to share and participate.

Make sure to also check out these other questions to ask an Orange County rehab center.

Here are five notable California recovery groups that focus on addiction to drugs or alcohol:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): Ideal for those struggling with alcoholism, AA offers a supportive community based on the 12-step program which incorporates spiritual principles.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA): Narcotics Anonymous is suitable for individuals looking to recover from drug addiction, including prescription drugs and illicit substances, also based on a 12-step program.
  • SMART Recovery: For those who prefer a non-spiritual, evidence-based approach, SMART Recovery offers tools and techniques derived from cognitive-behavioral therapies to help manage addiction to drugs and alcohol.
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA): Specifically tailored for individuals recovering from cocaine addiction, Cocaine Anonymous utilizes the traditional 12-step program and welcomes anyone with a drug-related issue, not just cocaine.
  • Women for Sobriety: Women for Sobriety is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women overcome alcohol and drug dependencies. It is based on a thirteen-statement program that encourages emotional and spiritual growth.

Exploring different groups and attending several meetings can help determine which environment and methodology resonate best with your recovery journey.

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Other Options for Addiction Aftercare in California

You can take advantage of various things after completing your time at a California recovery group.

Here are some of the key services:

  • Sober Living Homes: These are residential facilities that provide a drug-free environment for individuals recovering from addiction. Residents follow the rules, contribute to the household, and participate in group meetings or therapy sessions. Sober living homes serve as a transitional housing option to help individuals reintegrate into society while maintaining their sobriety.
  • Alumni Support Groups: Many treatment centers offer alumni programs that connect former clients through social events, regular meetings, and support groups. These programs help maintain the sense of community and mutual support often cultivated during treatment.
  • Outpatient Treatment Programs: After completing an inpatient program, many individuals transition to outpatient treatment, allowing them to continue therapy and counseling while living at home and reintegrating into daily life.
  • Therapy and Counseling: Ongoing therapy, whether individual, group, or family, is a cornerstone of addiction aftercare. Therapists can provide continued support in dealing with the underlying issues that contribute to addiction and can help develop coping strategies for dealing with cravings and triggers.
  • Educational and Employment Support: Some aftercare programs offer services to help individuals gain new skills, continue their education, or find employment, which are important aspects of building a stable life free from addiction.
  • Wellness and Lifestyle Programs: Programs that focus on physical health, such as fitness classes, nutritional counseling, and wellness workshops, can also be an important part of aftercare, as physical well-being supports mental health.
  • Monitoring Programs: Certain programs offer regular drug testing and check-ins with a recovery coach or mentor to help keep individuals accountable.

These aftercare options are designed to provide a supportive network and resources to help individuals navigate the challenges of life post-treatment, ensuring a better chance of long-term recovery.

Addiction Treatment in Orange County, CA at SCBH

If you or a loved one are seeking a California recovery group, South Coast Behavioral Health is here to help. We offer a full continuum of evidence-based and holistic care for drug addiction and mental health disorders. Programs include detox, residential, and outpatient treatment along with specialty tracks for veterans and first responders, and members of the Native American community. While in inpatient and outpatient care, you can also take advantage of SMART Recovery meetings.

Our medical detox program in California is staffed by caring and compassionate professionals who can provide you with medications to manage your withdrawal symptoms. You’ll do that as the first step to fully treating your addiction.

After detoxing, proper treatment can begin.

Treatment for substance abuse takes place along an entire spectrum of care. Along that entire spectrum are various behavioral therapies, support groups, and medically-assisted treatment (MAT).

These levels of treatment, in order of level of care, are as follows:

Residential Treatment in California

After completing medical detox, you’ll receive inpatient treatment in Orange County California. While there, you’ll receive MAT and dual diagnosis treatment to deal with any cravings or co-occurring mental health issues you may be battling.

Residential treatment facilities in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Huntington Beach are available for those who desire gender-specific care. There, patients can access round-the-clock medical attention and monitoring.

In addition to individual and group counseling and medication management, you’ll also have access to leisure activities and family support services.

Partial Hospitalization in California

Most clients start in our residential treatment program. Afterward, they may desire something that still provides structure and support, but with extra space and time to themselves. For that, we offer Partial Hospitalization in Newport Beach.

A step down from inpatient care but with more structure than conventional outpatient programs, partial hospitalization offers a good balance for those looking to slowly return to normal life. Here, you can receive care five to seven days a week for a couple of hours each day, returning home in the evening. This allows you to recover without putting your life completely on hold.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment in California

For those leaving inpatient residential treatment or partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are yet another gradual step forward on the road to recovery.

With a focus on group therapy, individual counseling, and education, clients undergoing Intensive Outpatient Treatment in Newport Beach can meet three to five days a week. Each session lasts three hours. Clients in IOP can also take advantage of SMART Recovery meetings.

This level of care requires the least amount of attendance at a facility.

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 If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse but wonder how long addiction treatment takes or have other questions, call us at 866-881-1184. Our highly qualified staff will be happy to help give you an idea of what to expect from your addiction recovery timeline, verify your insurance, and assist with any other questions.

Pierce Willans
Kelly McIntyre
Medically Reviewed by Kelly McIntyre, MS, LMFT
Read More About addiction Treatment & Recovery
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