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Rehab Vs. Alcoholics Anonymous: Which Is Better?

Published on December 7, 2020
man standing up during an alcoholics anonymous meeting

Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all process. What may work for one person, doesn’t quite work for another, and there are different paths one might take when it comes to recovery. 

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international organization dedicated to helping those struggling with substance abuse. They are widely recognized for their signature “12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous,” which functions as the basic structure for all their programming.  

In stark contrast, rehab can be more tailored to the individual depending on the treatment center they attend. It’s also short for “Residential Rehabilitation,” which means that patients rehabilitate in a residential facility setting. 

So which is better? Rehab or AA? Let’s dive into the selling points of each and discover which might be the best fit for you or a loved one. 

The Benefits Of Drug Rehab

Drug rehabilitation was designed to isolate the individual to a single place and a single time in order to detox and recover. By focusing their energy, patients are able to hone in on whatever they may need to fully recuperate in a drug-free environment.

Rehab also includes four distinct stages: 

  • intake
  • detox
  • rehabilitation
  • aftercare programming

This progression allows patients clear guidance and structure for their recovery. Aftercare or outpatient programming is especially helpful as it provides patients with a set plan to incorporate their recovery into their everyday lives following rehabilitation.  

It is also important to note that rehab typically provides detox under the supervision of trained medical professionals. This is vital when an individual is detoxing from a potent substance and needs medical attention in order to recover healthfully. 

The Drawbacks Of Drug Rehab

One of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to rehab is insurance. Insurance companies are likely to cover the costs of rehab. However, depending on your history or insurance plan, you may get only a short time approved for their rehabilitation. 

For example, if you relapse and need to return to residential or inpatient treatment, insurance companies take note of how many times you require care. The insurance company may then approve the person for a shorter amount of time, and in extreme cases, may not cover the rehabilitation at all. 

Another potential drawback to rehab is the isolation from friends and family. Although it may help to focus on your individual’s efforts, it can also make someone feel lonely and cut off if you don’t enter the best rehab program for you. 

The Benefits Of AA 

One of the biggest benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous is that they are free and require no dues. The financial burden of treatment is completely removed with their program. 

One of the biggest factors that impede many people from seeking treatment is the cost. AA removes that barrier and allows members to attend free of charge and focus solely on their recovery. 

AA is also widely known for having a flexible meeting schedule. They also make it incredibly easy to find a meeting near you and plug you in to a supportive network. 

The 12-Step program can also be incredibly helpful. These steps provide a unique structure and encourage participants to engage with their spirituality. AA encourages its members to acknowledge that “a force greater than themselves” can guide them to healing. 

This spiritual connection, which is not aligned with any particular religion, allows members to be free of the individual responsibility and instead seek a holistic approach to recovery.

The Drawbacks Of AA 

AA is an informal society that helps guide people to a stable and lasting recovery. It’s not guided by certified professionals or therapists. The structure is built upon the belief that, “I recovered, so can you.” 

The system has proven to be highly effective, but if you’re in need of more clinical or professional assistance, AA and other 12-step programs might not be the right fit. 

What Works Best For You 

Whatever path you may choose, treatment and recovery is dependent upon the individual. It’s about what works for you. This is why we encourage that you conduct your research and ask questions. Discover what option would work best for you or a loved one. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, it’s important to seek professional support at a substance abuse treatment program. 

To learn more about our comprehensive treatment options, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist today. 

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Alcoholics Anonymous - What Is AA?
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Types of Treatment Programs

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