The main difference between a non 12-step and a 12-step program is that the former does not believe that addicted individuals have a disease that renders them powerless to recover without following a set of beliefs and guidelines. With the non 12-step programs, the opposite is the case. These programs have much higher success rates than the more conventional 12-step programs because they address physical and psychological substance dependencies during the addiction treatment and recovery process.

In a non 12-step addiction treatment program, the client is given certain educational and other recovery tools that enable them to rebuild their confidence and their self esteem during the process. Most of these programs provide the client with group and individual counseling sessions that help to uncover the core issues underlying their addiction. They are then taught certain life skills so that they continue to increase control over their cravings as well as being responsible for their actions in the future.