Addiction recovery tools (other than The 12 Steps)

Learning to overcome addiction and related mental health issues is a huge challenge. Here, we review tools you may NEVER HAVE HEARD ABOUT. Then, we invite your questions and comments at the end.

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Tools of the trade

Tool n. – anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose: Education is a tool for success. – The Free Dictionary

We have all done it: unscrewed a screw with a butter knife or unclogged the sink with a wire hanger. But you can get by with “winging it” for only so long. When serious work needs to get done, it is essential to have the best tools available.

Imagine if you called a contractor to fix something very important in your home and he walked in with some super glue, rope, duct tape, a hammer and few rusty old screwdrivers in his tool box. Surely there is no way you would allow that person to work on your home.

Simply put, we need tools to get a job done. Anyone who has ever taken on a project without having the right tools has learned to appreciate the value of having the right tools for the right jobs. The same concept of tools, and their overall importance applies to addiction recovery. Learning to overcome addiction and related mental health issues is a huge challenge so it is essential that anyone working on these issues have the right tools.

Tools other than The 12 Steps

The 12 Steps have provided excellent recovery tools that have helped millions and will continue to do so which is one of the reasons, the 12 Steps have been so effective for so many. But what about people who are not ready to use the 12 Steps or people who refuse to use the 12 Steps for whatever reason? For too long, that segment of the recovering population looking for 12 Step alternative options has been under served.


A lot of the tools outlined in the meaning of the 12 Steps of AA and other programs are designed for people who are ready to work. For example, the main requirement for the 12 Steps is a “desire not to drink (or use)”. What about someone who wants help, or needs help but they do not yet have that desire or basic requirement? If you are a substance abuse counselor reading this surely you have had many people in your office who are not ready to stop or do not even have a strong enough desire to stop. Perhaps you are reading this as a person abusing substances who is thinking about stopping but not yet ready or fully motivated. It often takes a while until someone is “sick and tired of being sick and tired” (Alcoholics Anonymous). Ready or not, people still need help in the early stages, probably even more so than those who are motivated. Tools therefore need to be adapted according to the task at hand.

The right tools for the job at hand

What if there were tools designed specifically for people who are still struggling with change? Individuals who are unsure about whether or not they believe that they have a problem with substance abuse (insight) and individuals who may recognize a problem but just do not have the fire burning inside of them to sustain the effort needed in recovery (motivation) need specialized tools.

The link at the end of this blog provides some free counseling tools that are designed for the ever-challenging task of insight building and motivation building. These are simple outlines that have been time tested for over 20 years of work with people struggling with insight or motivation or both. Tools are downloadable in PDF format for your use as a person seeking to understand more about substance abuse or for counselors or other helpers looking to help struggling individuals to move forward in the change process. Suggestions to try specifically for early stage motivation and insight building are:

  1. Simple Insight Inventory
  2. Change Analysis
  3. Flammable Areas

Please take a look and give them a try.

If 12 Step Tools or other available methods are working for you then by all means keep using those excellent resources that have helped so many and will continue to do so. The goal here is not to in any way disparage the 12 Steps or any other methods that work but rather simply to expand the options out there for the many people struggling with substance abuse that need help.

Addiction recovery tools questions

Still have questions about these new addiction recovery tools? Please leave them in the comments section below. We do our best to respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt reply.

About the author
Kenneth Pecoraro, LCSW, LCADC, CCS has worked directly providing treatment for individuals with substance use and coexisting emotional-behavioral issues for over 20 years using a motivational, skills and strengths based, individualized client-centered perspective. The techniques explained in his method, Taking the Escalator: An Alternative to the 12 Steps, help individuals who are resistant to traditional approaches gain the tools needed for learning to increase insight and motivation for positive change.


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  1. Just found a couple of useful quotes and thought maybe it will help even one person get released from their addictive way of thinking and take charged of their life and happiness again….

    “One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”
    Andre Gide

    “Reputation is what folks think you are. Personality is what you seem to be. Character is what you really are.
    Overcoming Addiction Quote by Alfred Armand Montapert

    “The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.”
    Overcoming Addiction Quote by Bishop W.C. Magee

    “But I will say that the drugs are much more ferocious then they used to be. There are people wrecking their lives with addiction, which seems much more severe.”
    Overcoming Addiction Quote by Armistead Maupin

    “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles one has overcome trying to succeed.”
    Overcoming Addiction Quote by Booker T. Washington

    Just some food for for thought, inspiration and reflection…
    -Wesley Copp

  2. You’re quite welcome. The 16 Step Empowerment model is a wholistic approach and views people in their wholeness-mind, body, and spirit.
    You can read more about this approach and why it is a viable alternative to the 12 Steps for some people (not only women) at‎
    The 16 Steps of Discovery and Empowerment were developed by Charlotte Kasl, PhD. Following these steps have helped many but whether it’s 16 Steps, 12 Steps, Treatment Programs, or self awareness and determination, the important message is that people can overcome addiction once they recognise they have this problem and begin to seek out help and work on changing their lives and gaining control of their lives again to enjoy the happiness that is out there for us all to experience.
    Wesley Copp, BA

  3. Wesley Copp has volunteered as peer mentor at Pathways Addictions Resource Center. He facilitated a program that embodied the principles of the “16 Steps”. For those not familiar with that, it was a program alternative that was developed and often used by women in conjunction with or separate from The 12 Step programs. The premise of the 16 Step way is that people have the power within themselves to take back control of their life. It veers away slightly from the ‘higher power’ model in the 12 Step programs and teaches and encourages the empowerment of the person. Due to it’s popularity and as an effective alternative for those not inclined to follow the “higher power” teachings, it has become more widely used among both men and women. The attendance at his meeting groups were comprised of virtually equal numbers of men and women.

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