Spiritual approaches can provide powerful tools for some individuals to achieve and maintain abstinence. Treatment providers can refer clients to the spiritual leaders of their choice for additional counseling. Treatment programs can also accommodate 12-Step groups that do not explicitly endorse any one religion.
Many individuals voluntarily join one of the “12-step” support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and do well without formal treatment. For over 70 years AA and other mutual help groups have been the most common and often the only form of continuing care for those who have been addicted. AA is not considered treatment but a fellowship of individuals in recovery supporting one another. While AA is not religious, spirituality is an important element to recovery.
Many researchers and health professionals recommend 12-step programs because they provide a sense of ongoing support and services and are free and available in numerous locations, day and night, seven days a week. Judges, probation, and parole, must be careful and avoid ordering participation specifically in AA or NA as it could violate the person’s First Amendment. Instead, judges, probation, and parole should offer a variety of mutual-help options to consider including: AA, NA, Special Offender Services (SOS), and Lifering.
In addition to helping individuals with substance problems, 12-step programs, such as Al-Anon, can provide support to family members and significant others of those who suffer with addictions. Often individuals and families active in 12-step programs will also be active in formal treatment programs.