Effective Alcoholism Treatment

The differences between support groups and treatment programs

Paul Getzendanner, JD, LCSW, CADC
Program Director for Gateway’s Chicago West and River North Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers

No single treatment is appropriate for everyone. gateway provides personalized treatment based on the extent and nature of a person's alcohol abuse.

No single treatment is appropriate for everyone. gateway provides personalized treatment based on the extent and nature of a person’s alcohol abuse.

Oftentimes people aren’t clear about the difference between 12-step programs, offered by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and treatment programs, which are what Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers provides.

The primary difference between the two is that Alcoholics Anonymous essentially provides a support group as opposed to an integrated treatment program. The distinction between support and treatment is an important one to make.

How does a support group work?

12-step support groups provide people a roadmap to sobriety, with steps that everyone is expected to complete in the same manner. It’s more of a one-size-fits-all solution. Alcoholics Anonymous is a peer-based group, where members of the group encourage each other and provide guidance based on their own experience.

How does treatment work?

At Gateway, alcoholism treatment is evidence-based and flexible. It is provided by professionals who are trained, educated, licensed and accredited and who specialize in substance abuse counseling. We seek out current information and will try new things based on what research tells us is proven to work. This is a key factor that distinguishes us from 12-step support programs as well as the vast majority of treatment providers.

Gateway’s treatment programs are personalized, using what evidence tells us will work for each particular person. We assess and diagnose individuals, collaborate with them and devise a treatment plan that will meet their needs.

Among the resources we use in alcoholism treatment are dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, psychotherapy, art therapy and our own mindfulness based sobriety curriculum. Our programs also treat co-occurring disorders that include depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

Treatment and Support Groups Working Together

Gateway supports involvement in 12-step programs and, as part of our therapy, introduces clients to the concept, hosts meetings for them to attend as part of their therapy, and recommends that patients take part in Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar 12-step offering following discharge.

12-step support groups play a valuable role in alcoholism treatment and many people are helped by them. Gateway believes the most benefit can be derived from experiencing both evidenced-based treatment and support.

To learn more about treatment options for alcoholism, or our free consultation, call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers today at 877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit Recovergateway.org

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