The truth is that Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are not the only ways to recover. There are plenty of people who stop using drugs and alcohol without using the 12-steps. I tried many other things before I came into the rooms of AA. I used willpower. I tried drugs like suboxone and anti-depressants. I went to therapy. I moved. I traveled. I attended church. I participated in Buddhist meditation and South American ayahuasca ceremonies. I joined a gym and did yoga on the beach every night. Some of these things worked for a while, but none in the long term. But just because they didn’t work for me, it doesn’t mean they won’t work for someone else.
I would, however, highly recommend that anyone who is suffering from an addiction work a 12 step program. For one, I may have been able to be abstinent with a few of the methods I mentioned above, but I was never truly happy. This is why they did not work for me in the long term. I learned that to truly recover-mind, body, and spirit, I needed to find a different way of living. Otherwise, I was sober and miserable. Even more miserable than when I was drinking and using drugs. This is because drugs and alcohol weren’t the problem. They were never the problem. They were my solution. I had to find another solution that did at least as much as drugs and alcohol did for me. You don’t have to work a 12 step program, but without a 12 step program, you may not be happy without drugs and alcohol.
The other reason I would suggest that someone work a 12 step program is that it would of saved me a lot of time. You say why work a 12 step program, and I say why not? It would have been far easier than spending years of my life chasing another solution. The main reason I did not want to work a 12 step program was fear. What if I work a 12 step program and it works for me? Will I have to spend the rest of my life tethered to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, blindly repeating things like “One day at a time” and “It works if you work it”? Would I have to admit that I was one of “those people” that I saw in the rooms, eyes glazed over, talking about God and the Big Book? I had contempt for the program before I even knew what it was. Instead of just trying it like I had tried everything else, I wasted a decade of my life trying to find a different way. I had to lose everything; becoming so desperate in the process that I was willing to try anything. If you’re on the fence about whether to work a 12 step program, my advice would be to just try it. You aren’t selling your soul to AA. You don’t have to sign your name in blood. You are not obligated in any way to stay in AA if you decide it isn’t for you. Try it. Give it a fair shot. Be open and honest in your pursuit. If it doesn’t work for you, all your misery will be refunded to you, free of charge.