Difference Between 12 Step, Self-Help Groups Like AA & Professional Addiction Treatment


alcohol detox - saying no to a drink

When an individual chooses to stop addiction and enter recovery, they face physical, mental, and emotional factors that make quitting challenging. Some require professional assistance, while others choose 12-step programs or self-help groups to assist in their recovery journey.


But which is the right choice for you?


Professional Addiction Treatment


At Care Addiction Center, we believe a support system like 12-step recovery programs and self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) work best in conjunction with professional treatment for the best outcome and lasting recovery.


Care Addiction is a 12 step abstinence based program, where we go over steps 1-3 of the 12-step program with lectures and education, plus we bring in AA speakers, and encourage sponsorships. In addition to professional outpatient treatment, we educate patients of all their community support options and encourage them to give AA a shot and try it out - if they hate it, that’s alright because there are other community support programs.


One of the primary differences between 12-step groups, self-help groups and professional treatment is the issue of confidentiality. Professional healthcare providers are required by law to maintain confidentiality.


12 Step Recovery


The 12 Step recovery program is a set of guidelines designed as “steps” towards recovery, and are part of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Cocaine Anonymous (CA). These global programs were created to help those struggling with problematic drinking or substance abuse to get sober with the support of peers through daily meetings, discussions, and sharing of experiences around addiction.


Some individuals dislike the fact that The 12 Steps are faith-based, but in reality, the 12 steps talk about a higher power which can be anything an individual needs it to be. The higher power could simply be the AA group that allows an individual to to share, learn and support others.


Self-Help Groups Like AA & Community Support


There is a wide array of community support and self-help groups available for addiction recovery.

  • AA / NA / CA - Based on The 12 Steps, these are the biggest community support groups with the largest network of meetings and locations.

  • SMART Recovery - Based on science and evidence. Similar to AA, however SMART Recovery does not incorporate a higher power, and there is more self-empowered cognitive therapy involved.

  • Celebrate Recovery - Very Christian / religious based support group - even more so than AA. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind.

  • Refuge Recovery - Buddhist-oriented, non-theistic recovery program that does not ask anyone to believe anything, only to trust the process and do the hard work of recovery.


AA far more prevalent and available than other self-help recovery groups and boasts the best success rate of community support groups.


In our mission, we introduce individuals to support group so post-discharge they have a network of community support to utilize, whether it’s AA, Smart Recovery, or another.


If you or a loved one need help for an addiction or alcohol problem and want to know more about treatment options, feel free to contact us at: 630-402-0144