Seeking treatment for alcoholism can be daunting, especially when it’s your first time. It’s natural to want to know what to expect. What resources will be available to you? How does inpatient treatment differ from outpatient treatment?
There’s no straight answer to the question about AA meetings in rehab, because every rehabilitation center is different. Some encourage 12 step meetings during inpatient treatment, while others take a psychotherapeutic and medical approach and rarely discuss AA at all.
The main goal of AA is to help people maintain their sobriety and give them a safe place to share. People in AA meetings are encouraged to find a God of their own understanding and to accept their powerlessness over their addiction. AA is meant to be a place where people can reach out for help. It’s estimated that more than two million people nationwide attend AA meetings regularly.
Rehab is very different from AA meetings alone. AA gives people a support system and a step-by-step path to follow in order to maintain their sobriety. Meanwhile, rehab deals with both the physical and mental health of alcoholics. You’ll receive treatment in rehab that an AA meeting can’t provide.
Regardless of whether your rehab center has AA meetings or not, the meetings will not be the primary focus of your treatment. If you don’t find AA meetings helpful, you can also discuss that with your doctors and counselors as you lay out your treatment plan. Some people don’t find AA meetings helpful because of their religious aspects, or because the idea of “powerlessness” puts them in a negative mindset.
Rehab or AA?
Statistically speaking, alcoholics who go to a rehab center have more success maintaining their sobriety than alcoholics who attend AA meetings alone. It’s also worth noting that alcoholics who go to rehab and attend AA meetings after rehab tend to maintain their sobriety better than alcoholics who go to rehab and do not attend AA meetings afterward.
Rehab and AA meetings are both tools to help you live a healthier, happier life. If you need help getting sober, rehab is a better option than AA because you’re offered physical and mental health treatment beyond AA meetings. If you’re already sober and need help to maintain that sobriety, AA meetings are better equipped to support you than rehab centers.
For many people, the best approach is to use AA meetings and rehab centers simultaneously. If you aren’t interested in AA meetings, there are still ways to create support networks and paths forward after you complete your treatment.
Other Treatment Types
Rehab centers offer many treatment options and resources beyond AA meetings. It’s important to understand what you’ll get out of rehab that you wouldn’t get from an AA meeting alone. Though treatment types and intensity will vary from center to center, all drug rehabs have a focus on physical and mental health management on top of social support systems like AA meetings.
Rehab centers have doctors on staff who can monitor your physical health during a detox. This is especially important with alcoholism because alcohol detox can present dangerous symptoms. It’s far better to have a medically monitored detox than to attempt to detox alone.
Monitored detox is essential when going through the three stages of alcohol withdrawal:
- Insomnia, anxiety, abdominal pain, and nausea after eight hours
- Increased body temperature, high blood pressure, confusion, and unusual heart rate from 24-72 hours after your last drink
- Fever, agitation, hallucinations, and seizures can occur after 72 hours
The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person, but in some cases they can be life threatening. The chances of a life threatening reaction increase with the amount of alcohol and frequency of your alcohol consumption. All alcohol withdrawal symptoms tend to subside within five to seven days after your last drink.
Your doctors will also be able to assess your physical health and address any physical health problems caused by your alcoholism. Psychiatrists can evaluate your mental health and prescribe medications to deal with any mental health issues. General practitioners can prescribe medications to deal with any physical health problems that haven’t previously been addressed.
You won’t have access to health professionals like these by attending AA meetings alone.
As mentioned, psychiatrists can prescribe medication to treat mental health issues. But the mental health resources available at rehab centers extend far beyond that.
You’ll be put in touch with a counselor or counselors who can help determine your treatment plan. These counselors will assess your unique situation and decide which resources fit your needs best. Every person will have slightly different needs regarding their treatment and future relapse prevention.
You’ll work with a counselor on individual therapy. During therapy, you’ll set positive goals for the future and work on learning coping skills to prevent future relapses. You’ll also have the opportunity to work through past traumas, evaluate your current environment, and learn to build healthy relationships with the people around you.
Many rehab centers also provide family therapy, in which you’ll work with your loved ones on healing and moving forward. Family therapy addresses the creation of boundaries, the airing-out of past issues, and the ability to foster a positive home environment.
Rehab centers often offer specific kinds of therapy including art therapy, music therapy, outdoor recreation, and journaling activities. Creative therapies have been proven to prevent future relapses for alcoholics and other addicts. AA meetings alone won’t give you access to the creative therapy, individual therapy, or family therapy that a rehab center will.
A rehab center is meant to help you get sober and give you tools to maintain that sobriety. AA meetings help you maintain sobriety by giving you a safe space and social support.
Our trained counselors are available to answer questions and help 24 hours a day. Call 888-380-0342 to take the first step toward your happiness and sobriety.