Non 12 Step – What Does this Mean?

30 years ago, I had just matriculated out of a long term intensive outpatient program that I was mandated to attend as a result of a DUI I had gotten 18 months prior. This treatment experience was so profoundly disappointing and harmful to my mental well being, and it was such an assault on my personal belief that I could overcome any problem, that I fell into a deep depression. I was completely lost as to how such an illogical set of ideas was going to set me free from my “addictions.” Little did I know that so much of what I was rebelling against were the very same things millions of others found hard to believe and stomach as well.

My Refusal to Give In

Regardless of how passionate my therapists and counselors were in selling the addiction disease myth, I held onto a sliver of my autonomy and kept the idea alive within myself that there had to be a better way. That nugget inside my soul was the start of the first non-12 step method in the world. In those early days of research and development this new method, this counter cultural ideal, was called the Baldwin Program (eventually this evolved and developed into The Freedom Model decades later). Today, The Freedom Model takes our original non-12 step ideals and pushed them further. We now have a thoroughly researched, time tested and logical approach to moving past both addiction and perpetual recovery.

Why Some “Help” Hurts

I’m so happy when I hear people say things like, “Joe wouldn’t do the steps”; “Janice refused to surrender to the group”; “Tommy would not get the help he needed”. I realize that you might be thinking, why on earth would you be happy that people would reject help? The answer is simple; because the “help” they would be getting would lower their chances of moving past their addictions. It would keep them in a sobriety/relapse cycle for longer, and they would keep active and problematic drug or alcohol use a part of their lives for a longer duration than if they had not received “help.” These facts are not based on my thoughts or feelings, they are based on the largest studies ever conducted on addiction in the world. Now before I go on, I need to define what I mean when I say “help.” In this respect, help is defined as any addiction help that includes the 12 step ideology and disease-based treatments. Both cause the issues described above.

When we started the first non-12 step program in the early nineties, it was the only true alternative to disease based treatment in existence. Sure there were other facilities that did not fully adhere to the 12 steps, but none of them spent the time to disprove the 12 step charade publicly or provide an alternative program that was based in any sensible or researched fashion. Most of these programs were filled with questionable new age nonsense and some were dangerous cults that actively recruited the most vulnerable. These were my options as I was getting sober in 1988: mostly disease based programs, a smattering of rehabs that centered on new age silliness, and rehabs like Narconon that were nothing more than recruiting centers for cults like Scientology. Is it any wonder that I felt hopeless and alone in my initial quest to find answers that better fit my needs at the time?

Luckily, I decided to reject any method that required faith healing or adherence to needing others to tell me how to live. I knew enough in my life to know that people will inevitably fail you and give poor advice, and possibly hurt you – that’s just a part of being a human. I also knew that answers and solutions to problems come to those who aren’t afraid to seek them out. Lastly, I decided that I needed to find the answers and not let anyone or any naysayers stand in my way to find the truth.

What I Discovered

What I discovered was that there was a massive amount of information that corroborated my intuition that addiction was not a disease. I was shocked at the vast array of research that existed that disproved so much of what I learned in rehab and treatment as a whole. I felt excited and vindicated! I knew that the disease charade was wrong, and now I had many other credible sources that backed up my thoughts on the matter. Next, I discovered that my natural revulsion towards companies like Narconon were well founded. The more I studied the alternatives to disease-based treatment that existed then, the more I realized that they were not that much different than the rest of the industry that preyed on family’s shame, fears and vulnerabilities to gain funding and power.

While all this information and research was illuminating, I also knew that the path to understanding how to help those like myself that desperately needed help would require that I start my own model and apply what I was learning. This is where the rubber met the road after all. This was the era of true learning; it was a decades long evolution that culminated in thousands of lives saved, and a non-12 step ideal made real.

Unfortunately, like any good idea made in the effective focus on helping others with addictions, the disease based treatment industry saw an opportunity to make some more money, and they quickly bastardized the term non-12 step. Today, by force of this wrongheaded evolution backwards, The Freedom Model can no longer differentiate its methods by saying we are non-12 step like we used to before the treatment industry’s co-opting of the term. By watering down the term with treatment lingo and disease-based language – non 12 step is nothing more than treatment lite. While I have no problem saying that The Freedom Model is the only true non 12 step model, I’d rather say, The Freedom Model simply stands on its own merits. Here they are:

  • If you want to move past addiction, and not be tied to perpetual struggle, The Freedom Model is your answer.
  • If you want to be free from needing support meetings, then The Freedom Model is your answer.
  • If you reject the disease myth or want to learn why you might reject it, The Freedom Model is for you.
  • If you want to know how to change a substance use habit no matter how deeply ingrained, and do so easily, The Freedom Model is for you.
  • If you want to move on from therapy, treatments, support, and feeling fragile, The Freedom Model is for you.

And with all this said, you need to know that these are the true defining characteristics of the original non-12 step program. Beware of the impostors and counterfeits. There are hundreds now. Like so many other things in the world, the passionate people behind an original idea usually make the best of that idea. Those that come after, cheapen it, and use it for other reasons, making the whole identity lost in the degrading process. So if you want a non-12 step method to move past your addiction, then we are here for you – as we have been for 3 decades. We are The Freedom Model.

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