In Articles, Clearbrook Treatment Centers Pennsylvania, Relapse Prevention

As many people each year embark on the journey of recovery, they start to wonder if they can find a better way to succeed. The 12-step programs have been around for many years, and with good reason…they work! However, there are definitely some other alternative addiction recovery tips and options that don’t really work. Below is a list of recovery options that people swear by but aren’t necessarily proven to be helpful in achieving and sustaining sobriety. 

Alternative Treatments for Addiction That Don’t Work 

While there are plenty of great addiction recovery tips and methods out there that can truly help an addict turn their life around, others aren’t so great. It can be difficult to differentiate between the helpful and unhelpful when it comes to recovery because you might not want to potentially ignore a method that could help you make great progress. To help you out, our Northeast addictions treatment center has outlined some alternative addiction recovery that might not work for you. 

Moderation Management  

Moderation Management is a form of harm reduction for those struggling with the aftermath of alcohol abuse but do not have an alcohol use disorder (alcohol addiction). Otherwise referred to as alcohol moderation, this is a newer offering of “recovery” programs that encourages people in recovery to practice moderate drinking rather than abstinence.  

Having been founded in 1994 as an alternative to AA, Moderation Management is mainly geared toward problem drinkers instead of alcoholics. They believe in changing your behaviors by using a network of support groups. This, in turn, will give you positive lifestyle changes. They don’t believe you need to be abstinent from alcohol but merely just moderate your usage.  

They also offer their steps, nine of them to be exact. The organization claims that followers will be on the path of achieving moderation and balance in every area of their lives. 

However, because alcoholism is a progressive disease, individuals who have reached the point where they’re asking for help to quit drinking may not truly benefit from moderation management or harm reduction. If you’ve ever experienced drinking problems or know someone who has, then you know that continuing to drink when you know it’s becoming a problem can easily lead to a full-blown addiction.  

Unfortunately, people with alcohol use disorder can’t help but use alcohol. It’s part of the disease. In fact, Moderation Management never hides the fact that 30 percent of their members end up going on to abstinence-based programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Another study also showed that 15 percent of MM participants displayed diagnosable symptoms of alcoholism. This suggests that while moderation may seem like a good option for some, critics of the method certainly have a point. 


The psychedelic substance called Ibogaine is illegal for use in the United States, but other countries have claimed success when treating addiction. The drug works by dampening the brain’s reward pathways and lessening the desire to use. They also claim that it is effective when an addict needs to lessen the effects of withdrawal. It is a naturally occurring substance that is found in plants. 

Because of its illegal status in the United States, there is not enough research on its functions and effects. Initial data, however, shows that there have even been indications of death as a result of using this drug. Therefore, as a drug rehab in Pennsylvania that offers addiction treatment for psychedelic drugs, we would never recommend the use of any psychedelics in treating a substance use disorder. 

Emotional Freedom Technique 

The emotional freedom technique is commonly referred to as “tapping” and involves using a series of taps on pressure points. During this time, you’ll walk through the challenges you are facing. People use it as a way to walk through their addictive urges. EFT combines the ancient Eastern acupressure method with the psychotherapy techniques of the West. Many people will claim that EFT will aid in responding to urges and addressing underlying issues of addiction, but there is no substantiated proof to back up those claims. 


Some people take the tip to be mindful of potential triggers such as people, places, and things, to mean they should avoid all people, places, and things. When this becomes the thought pattern, you can quickly convince yourself that you don’t need a meeting or you don’t need a phone call to your sponsor. 

This mentality can also keep you from interacting with loved ones and fostering positive relationships. As a result, you may start being your own support system, which removes accountability and makes it very easy to lie to yourself.   

It’s common to tell yourself things such as, “My feelings aren’t that bad,” or “I don’t need to talk about that.” However, having a strong support system and staying connected with loved ones who support your sobriety, along with others in the recovery community, is important. Talking about things like these with like-minded people will shed light on reality and help us to stay grounded. 

Rational Recovery 

Rational Recovery (RR) is a new self-help movement for people with substance use disorders that was started as an alternative to the traditional 12 steps. It is an abstinence-based program that follows a method called AVRT – the Addictive Voice Recognition Technique. The organization doesn’t believe in groups or support centers and even claims that they are unnecessary. They even go as far as suggesting that 12-step programs encourage relapse.  

The goal of Rational Recovery is to “isolate your Beast.” This is considered the internal voice that makes the individual want to use drugs or drink. You are supposed to force your Beast to live alone. Eventually, you will bring forth death to the Beast for a full recovery. Although there are claims of the program’s success, members were still shown to have continued using drugs or alcohol during the program, which brings us to question this method’s efficacy. 

Main Reason These Won’t Work  

While we’ve briefly touched on each of these alternative methods, we wanted to take a moment and discuss the main reason many of these will not work. We aren’t meant to do this on our power, through our own will. We are meant to connect with others!  

Being human means that we need community, and since addiction is a self-serving disease, it can be difficult for a person with a substance use disorder to get sober without outside support. While it’s happened before, the chances of sustaining long-term sobriety are significantly higher in those who get professional drug or alcohol treatment  

For instance, the beautiful part about being in a 12-step program is there is never a lack of people to support you. They’ve all been through the same experiences, thoughts, and feelings that you are having right now. You don’t need to walk alone, and you don’t want to!  

 Spend time getting to know the people around you in the rooms. What you will come to find is a great group of people that love you unconditionally and never judge you. What a wondrous way to achieve sobriety – by walking hand-in-hand with others.  

Alternative Addiction Treatment That Does Work  

Now that we’ve established some iffy alternative addiction recovery methods, here are some that our Pennsylvania rehab stands by. 


Neurofeedback – also known as EEG biofeedback therapy – uses technological advances to collect information about the brain, specifically through reading brain waves. While it has been used previously for victims of PTSD, it is just now making its way into a few rehabilitation centers. Some psychological clinics are adopting the practice, as well.  

Neurofeedback relies on the use of a monitoring device, electronic sensors, and software that can read brain wave data to display the individual’s reactions to certain stressors in recovery, such as anxiety or discomfort. This data, in turn, creates brain maps, allowing the trained experts to develop an understanding as to which neurological pathways have become imbalanced in a client, such as a person recovering from drug addiction.  

As a facility that utilizes biofeedback and neurofeedback therapy to help clients develop coping strategies that meet their needs in recovery, we believe that neurofeedback is an effective treatment method that allows our specialists to dig deep and develop a detailed recovery plan individualized to each of our clients. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment 

Medication-assisted treatment has become a popular form of treatment for substance abuse disorders, especially for those who suffer from opioid addictions. In a nutshell, MAT is the use of addiction medications, such as Suboxone and Methadone, in conjunction with therapeutic services.  

Medication-assisted treatment is a big part of our detox in PA because it promotes comfort, safety, and stability during the withdrawal process. Withdrawal symptoms can be highly uncomfortable and even dangerous in some cases, which is why our medical team administers medication to patients (as needed) to ensure they’re safe. 


Meditation has become an integral part of mental health and is popular in addiction recovery. It has been successful at treating an array of mental health problems, and there has been a success in treating substance abuse when combined with the 12-steps. 

Regular meditation is an effective way to reduce the chances of relapse. Neuroscientists have discovered that after five 20-minute sessions of meditation, there was an increase in the blood flow to critical parts of the brain. This is said to have power over self-control. 

Combining meditation with a formal addiction treatment program can greatly benefit your recovery. Attending daily meetings, especially in early sobriety, as well as consulting with an experienced sponsor, are critical parts of a successful recovery program. 

Get Addiction Recovery Care at Clearbrook  

Although utilizing alternative addiction treatment programs in your recovery can give you a boost, methods like neurofeedback or meditation aren’t the solution. Rather, these are supplemental options to a formal treatment program.  

Our Clearbrook Treatment Centers in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania offer a variety of rehab programs that offer structure, guidance, and in-depth care to set our clients up for success. 


To learn more about our inpatient rehab programs in Pennsylvania or Massachusetts, call Clearbrook today at 570-536-9621 or leave us your contact information so we can reach out to you. 



  1. NIH – Rational recovery: alternative to AA for addiction? 


Related Reading:   

How to Improve Self-Efficacy in Addiction Recovery 

Overcoming Burnout in Addiction Recovery 

Recommended Posts
Addicted Family System | Clearbrook Treatment CentersOpioids | Clearbrook Treatment Centers