Non 12-Step Program
The Freedom Model Retreats created the term “Non-12 Step” in the mid-nineties. We had developed the first residential non-12 step program in the world at that time and the term was coined when we began describing our approach as “non-12 step”. Prior to that, the term did not exist and was not used in the public lexicon. There were other non-12 step approaches, but none used that specific term, and all were “meeting” based and remain so to this day. So in this meeting respect, they hold onto one of the main characteristics of the 12 step paradigm, that being to gain “support” through a meeting structure. The Freedom Model has no dependence on such support mechanisms, and consequently we remain the only true and pure non-12 step model in the world. No 12 step meetings and some history
The non-12 step Freedom Model System offered at The Freedom Model Retreats was researched and developed over the past 29 years (founded in 1989). Ironically the non- 12 step model that would eventually grow into the Freedom Model System began in the late eighties as a research project to attempt to prove the efficacy of the 12 step model. Over the span of a 12 year research effort to prove the success of the 12 steps (1989 to 2001), we found the truth – that the 12 steps harm people rather than help them. It was also discovered that the 12 step model fed the entire addiction treatment industry with its myths of powerlessness, loss of control, and the need for perpetual “support.” As the non-12 step model progressed, we abandoned any ideas that did not allow people to be free – free from addiction AND free from the constraints of perpetual “recovery.” This unequivocal definition of freedom is held only by The Freedom Model. In reality, any model that defines itself with a requirement to be attached to meetings or therapy in perpetuity, CANNOT claim to be a true non 12 step approach. This being true – there is only one authentic non-12 step model, and that’s the original, the Freedom Model System.
What about Narconon – Isn’t that a Non-12 step program?
In a word, no. A true non-12 step model does not have a religious agenda, nor a
religious component. It’s important to know that the 12 steps have been deemed a religion in several states, and is a method for Christian conversion. That is where its roots lie, in a first-century Christian movement. For those seeking a religious conversion model, the 12 steps might be a fit.
Like the 12 steps, Narconon is a religious organization. The Narconon program, while claiming to be non-12 step, also claims to not be associated with its parent corporation, The Church of Scientology. So while Narconon states it is not governed by The Church of Scientology and is also a non-12 step model, they are in reality neither.
Narconon IS run and managed by a cult: the Church of Scientology – a religion, and
therefore cannot be a non-12 step model. In this aspect, Narconon borrows the non-12 step moniker as a distraction to what they actually are. This is also true of many other facilities worldwide that now have co-opted the non-12 step program moniker in an effort to inappropriately borrow on the good reputation of The Freedom Model System.
But the big chain of rehabs I called said they have a non-12-step facility. In all likelihood, their version of non-12-step is a “dual diagnosis” program. Their method is to come up with a dozen mental health diagnoses for you, like depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, and more. They call these mental health problems “the underlying causes of addiction” and then set about treating them with medications and therapy. Here’s the rub. Where 12 Step programs say that “character defects” are a major cause of addiction, these dual diagnosis are essentially saying the same thing when they target mental illnesses as the cause. While 12 Step programs say fear is a cause of substance use, dual-diagnosis programs are saying anxiety and stress (essentially more specific types of fears) are the problem. And so on. The non-12-step programs are repackaging 12 step ideas as scientific sounding methodologies.
Although they may not require 12 Step meetings in their program, these programs will still require you to accept that you have “the disease of addiction/alcoholism” as is the tradition in 12 step program. Let’s not forget that this disease model is a creation of 12 step programs. They will say that abstinence is necessary, citing AA’s concept of loss of control, as their justification. They just won’t attribute
this to AA. They’ll say you need ongoing support, another creation of the 12 Steps, who taught the world to believe that addiction/alcoholism are chronic diseases that require ongoing support to battle.
Here are the facts. There is one residential non-12 step model – The Freedom Model System offered exclusively at The Freedom Model Retreats. There is not a religious agenda, no need for meetings, daily therapies, medically assisted “therapies”, or any modes used to scare people into coerced abstinence (another hallmark of 12 step programs). The non-12 step program provides for an individual’s ability to change their preferences based on their pursuit of happiness and positive motivations. There is no need for “support” meetings because the
individual is not fighting anything – rather, they are choosing every behavior they engage in, and that includes their level of substance use. Anything added to that core is outside the definition of an authentic non-12 step approach.