Drug Treatment & Therapy versus the 12 Steps:
Drug treatment uses different types of therapy modalities and approaches to aid someone in understanding their addiction and themselves so they eventually may learn to live clean and sober. Treatment is performed by therapists and clinicians and are paid services. Treatment typically will have several different levels of care, from a detox (if necessary) to primary treatment in a residential setting to intensive outpatient (IOP) to continuing care. At the end of the process a patient will often live in a recovery residence or sober house for awhile and may continue individual therapy sessions. By this point, they will often have been also inducted into one of the 12 Step fellowships.
On the other hand, 12 Step recovery is not treatment or therapy. It involves one addict helping another through the 12 Steps. The 12 Steps are spiritual principles, actions taken by addicts whose sole purpose is to create a psychic change in the addict (or what some call a “spiritual experience”), meaning a change in perception of life which in turn leads to a change in behaviors (such as going from selfish to unselfish, from angry and resentful to a place of serenity, from dishonesty to honesty.) 12 Step recovery and the sponsorship of taking an addict through the steps is unpaid, done free of charge. There are no licensed therapists or clinicians that lead AA or NA (although many fellowship members are therapists, clinicians and other well respected professionals like doctors, psychiatrist and mental health administrators).