man choosing which way he should go

How to Know Which Recovery Program is Right for You?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

If you are reading this you are doing the right thing! Either you or a loved one have admitted that life had become unmanageable due to alcoholism or drug addiction. It has become a serious problem and the decision to take action has been made. This is a huge step in the right direction. Making the decision to get clean/sober is one of the most difficult stages on the road to recovery.

Entering into the wrong recovery program can result in relapse, that’s why it is so important to do research and find out which recovery program is going to be the best fit. There are hundreds of different recovery fellowships out there and thousands of different treatment programs. The right treatment program can be difficult to pinpoint but there are some specifics that you should look out for.

Three Main Recovery Programs


The three largest recovery fellowships will be the ones mentioned in this article, even though there are many more out there. The most popular are A.A (and other anonymous groups), S.M.A.R.T Recovery and Celebrate Recovery. A.A or Alcoholics Anonymous is the oldest recovery fellowship out there. Founded in 1935 by Dr Bob Smith and Bill Wilson in Ohio. I’m sure many of you have heard of the 12 steps, this is where that term comes from. A.A was one of the first to introduce the “disease theory” about alcoholism and addiction. The program of A.A is based around the idea that an alcoholic cannot just simply remain abstain from alcohol function like a normal person. They believe the alcoholic/addict has to change their way of thinking and have a “spiritual awakening” by going through the 12 steps. Member’s are often encouraged to help other alcoholics through the 12 steps so they can one day also recover. A.A is strongly based around finding a “higher power of your understanding”. This doesn’t have to be God, just someone or something that you can look up to or pray to for guidance or help in situations.

SMART Recovery is a worldwide non-profit organization. “Scientifically-based using non-confrontational motivational, behavioral and cognitive methods” is the basis to SMART Recovery. People who attend SMART meeting are taught from evidence-based addiction texts and studies. It is grounded by scientific knowledge and is intended to evolve as new scientific evidence is found. It focuses on ideologies of motivational interviewing found in Motivational Enhancement Therapy and some methods taken from Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

Celebrate Recovery  is similar to the 12 step based programs. Celebrate Recovery is a “Christ-based” approach to recovery that was founded in 1990 by two pastors; John Baker and Rick Warren, It is aimed at all “bad habits, hurts, and hang-ups” including but not limited to; drug addiction and alcoholism, sex addiction, anxiety disorders and eating disorders.

All meetings are group based and gender specific. They follow the “5 Small Guidelines” which are implemented before and during every meeting. The program seems to be profit based, where training kits and program start kits cost around $100+. You must be at least 18 years old to attend one-day seminars.

Finding the Right Treatment Program


If your or your loved one are struggling with anxiety, depression or bi-polar make sure that you are looking for a “dual diagnosis” center. If there was trauma in the past that has caused PTSD look for a program that offers up EMDR or something similar. Almost half of all addicts and alcoholics struggle with mental health issues on top of their addictions. A dual diagnosis center will treat both the addiction/alcoholism as well as the underlying mental health issues. If those issues are left untreated the chances of a relapse are much higher.

Privately owned rehab facilities can get quite expensive,  if you are not financially able to privately pay for a center there are still many options available. Thankfully most private insurance companies are willing to pay for your loved one’s stay in a program. If there is no private health insurance and no finances available there are state funded programs that your loved one will be able to enter free of cost.

How to Get Help for You or a Loved One Who is Struggling

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction and would like to learn more  call First Steps Recovery today at 1-844-BIG-STEP (1-844-489-0836). We will help you find out which recovery program is the best fit. A healthier and more fulfilling life is only a phone call away.

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