Non 12-Step Programming

"AToN Center's use of CBT, DBT, and SMART Recovery help our clients expand their view of recovery to include how they can learn to manage their emotions in order to choose behaviors that honor their core values".

Fact-Checked and Approved by Chris McDuffie - ACSW, 99811


AToN Center is a leading substance abuse treatment center located in San Diego, California. At AToN Center, we specialize in providing a treatment framework that separates itself from 12-Step rehab programs for drug and alcohol abuse, and we offer a number of alternatives to traditional 12-Step Programs, such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). 

12-Step Programs and related treatments may not be suitable for everyone. Some individuals find it challenging to connect with the language and principles of the 12-Step system and, for some, these programs may not yield the desired results.

For instance, those admitted to our San Diego luxury rehab often tell us that they struggle with the fact that 12-Step programs refer to addiction as a “disease”, one that they are utterly “powerless” to address, or recover from on their own. 

Additionally, 12-Step Programs emphasize a reliance on a higher power, which may not resonate with everyone. There are ways to address substance use disorders that don’t require individuals to invoke their spirituality, or adopt a different belief system. This language can also isolate those who are secular, or have wavering faith.

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Some individuals have shared previous “triggering” encounters with meetings where participants frequently reminisced about their “glory days,” occasionally glorifying their past drug use and harmful behaviors to some extent.

In short, 12-Step rehab programs in San Diego simply aren’t for everyone. Our alternative programs don’t rely on the inclusion of a higher power, and do not refer to substance use as a disease that leaves people powerless to affect personal change. Our alternatives emphasize an evidence-based, therapeutic approach to long-term recovery and sobriety.

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What is Non-12-Step Rehab?

The goal of a non-12 Step program is to help individuals remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol, through reliable, sustainable, and evidence-based approaches and treatment modalities.

Some drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs prioritize the concept of a higher power less than traditional 12-step meetings. Instead, they focus on modern, personalized strategies for self-empowerment and avoid labeling addiction as a “disease,” a common feature in non-12 step rehab programs.

Many individuals may find that 12-step programs don’t align with their unique beliefs and requirements. In such cases, a non-12 step program may be a more suitable choice, especially if one does not subscribe to the notion of addiction as a mental illness or alcoholism as a disease. If you prefer a non-spiritual approach, and seek a more secular method to address alcohol-related concerns, a non-12 step program may be the best fit for your individual recovery.


Some key elements incorporated in a non–12 step drug and alcohol rehab program include:


Individuals frequently encounter withdrawal symptoms during the detoxification process from substance abuse. Prolonged consumption of addictive substances can result in physical dependency and impairment of regular, everyday functioning. Abrupt cessation of use can trigger discomfort, flu-like symptoms, and in some cases, severe acute health issues such as respiratory distress.

Symptoms may be more intense for those who are not receiving medical attention through a treatment center and a health care provider that can manage the symptoms to ensure patient safety.

Seeking treatment for substance use can be difficult, and many people may prefer to attempt a self-management approach to withdrawal. However, this often results in serious adverse health issues. Withdrawal symptoms may be worsened by an underlying chronic disease or other health problems.

Attempting to independently detox from alcohol addiction can pose significant dangers, potentially even risking one’s life. Even individuals who function while consuming alcohol may face life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It is advisable to seek treatment at a dedicated center if you opt for abrupt cessation of alcohol use.

Our Non-12-Step Treatment Program

AToN Center is an addiction treatment program that was founded on non-12 Step treatment principles. Therefore, we focus on an evidence-based best treatment model for substance use disorders, designed to address the challenges that many people experience in traditional 12 Step treatment programs.

At AToN Center’s San Diego detox and rehab, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) lies at the heart of our programs, acting as the clinical underpinning for all our treatment plans. CBT helps people embrace the idea that a person’s potential to change stems from the relationship between thinking and doing, and that affecting our behavior can change our thinking, and vice versa.

Our family therapy is conducted with a motivational and empowering approach instead of the typical Al-anon only format to group family “education.”

We treat families and residents as individuals and offer the comfort and guidance of a clinician during family sessions in our private drug rehab centers. We address spirituality not through talk of a higher power but rather, through mindfulness exercises that teach individuals how to center themselves and decrease impulsivity.

Our rich program of on-site holistic care is also critical to decompressing and finding a centered space during a time at which the body, mind, and spirit needs to heal from toxic substance abuse in our California non-12 Step. Our treatment options also include support groups, behavioral healthcare, and many other treatment modalities.

At AToN Center it is our promise that you can achieve successful outcomes to maintain sobriety without working “the steps” and by utilizing other practices offered in our San Diego, California non-12 Step rehab.

Our SMART Recovery® programming process and AToN Center curriculum approaches recovery in an open-minded and scientific manner, which many find helpful.

We encourage and share discussion of relapse prevention from a clinically sound perspective and encourage those who have been limited by past exposure to 12 Step rehab treatment to expand their knowledge of themselves through our non-12 Step treatment offerings.

At AToN Center we are a treatment provider with mental health professionals who work with each individual client, and our representatives work solely based on the needs of the person. Some of the up-to-date addiction recovery treatment elements that we incorporate into our treatment plans include:

  • Evidence-based treatments
  • SMART Recovery®
  • Individual and group recovery programs
  • Secular recovery
  • Holistic treatment protocols
  • Other alternative therapies

Our programs are designed to treat substance use problems, substance use disorders, related mental health disorders, and impulse control disorders.


Comprehensive, cutting-edge non-12 step treatment modalities include:


Non-12-Step programs can be immensely beneficial for individuals seeking treatment for a substance use disorder, without the rigidity of a typical 12-Step program. 

These programs offer an alternative approach to the traditional 12-step addiction recovery plan, focusing more on individual therapy and self-empowerment.

They are particularly helpful for those who have not found success with 12-step approaches or who prefer a more secular or science-based method of recovery.


These programs offer a variety of benefits that provide a different path to recovery. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment compared the effectiveness of non-12-step programs to traditional AA programs and found that participants in non-12-step support groups expressed higher levels of satisfaction, maintaining motivation and cohesion.

Importantly, these individuals also displayed the same level of participation as those who attended 12-step groups, indicating that non-12-step programs can be just as engaging and beneficial for those in recovery.

Seeking Addiction Treatment

Our addiction recovery program is one of the best in the country, as we follow strict guidelines as well as offer appropriate recovery support to individuals looking for alternative treatments for substance addiction. If you are looking for a treatment provider that will meet you where you are at, then you cannot go wrong with AToN Center. We work with a credentialed medical staff that specializes in addiction treatment, SMART recovery, and other holistic treatment options.

Our substance addiction treatment staff will review your medical history to determine the best option for your drug or alcohol use treatment. If you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse, drug or alcohol addiction and you are looking for information on a non-12 step recovery program, visit our contact page and get in touch with us today.


AToN Center is a recognized dual diagnosis treatment clinic. Many 12-Step alternatives, including AToN Center, are well-equipped to handle dual diagnoses or co-occurring disorders. We recognize the complexity of addiction and offer comprehensive treatment plans that address both substance use disorders, and related mental health conditions.

The length can vary significantly, depending on the individual’s needs and the specific program. Some programs may last a few weeks, while others could last several months or more.

Non-12-step programs typically focus more on individual therapy and do not necessarily involve a belief in a higher power. They may emphasize self-empowerment and personal growth over surrendering control to a higher power.

Many programs encourage family involvement as part of the recovery process. This can take the form of family group therapy sessions, educational programs, and peer support groups for family members.

There is no exclusivity between treatment methods – if one program doesn’t work for you, go ahead and seek out other options. It’s important to stay open to different treatment options, especially when discussing substance use disorders. However, it’s always best to discuss this decision with a healthcare provider or counselor.