Should Mental Health Professionals Refer Clients with Substance Use Disorders to 12-Step Programs?

Attendance at 12-step programs has become part of the orthodoxy of treating clients with substance abuse disorders. However, concerns have been raised about the assumptions on which 12-step programs are based. I argue that antirepresentationalism is the moral principle that underpins such concerns. After clarifying the principle of antirepresentationalism, I explore strategies for reconciling antirepresentationalism with 12-step programs. However, all the strategies I try fail. Consequently, I adopt an alternative way of thinking about antirepresentationalism that leaves mental health professionals free to refer clients to 12-step programs. However, such referrals can continue only at the cost of accepting objectionable assumptions about motivation, spirituality and human agency. Therefore, it might well be time to find an alternative to 12-step programs
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