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12-Step v. Non-Step

IRETA (Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions) published an article “Comparing 12-Step and Non-Step Models of Addiction Recovery” (2013) which offers a (favorable) review of my approach to substance use treatment.…/comparing-12-step-and-non-step-models-o…/

Here’s an excerpt:

“Recovery Equation is Pittsburgh psychologist Pavel Somov’s novel approach to drug and alcohol treatment. His theory draws from a variety of teachings such as cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive dissonance, stress inoculation, and motivational enhancement therapy. Somov views recovery as the sum of three components: the development of motivation for change, choice awareness, and use prevention skills. Dr. Somov’s model has been implemented in the Allegheny County Jail and it has been well received by patients because it stresses useful skills that patients can put into practice almost immediately. […]

I have heard strong opinions from 12-step supporters that AA/NA is the only successful treatment for addiction. After all, they say, AA has been around for 70+ years for a reason: it works. But when I visited the Allegheny County Jail as an IRETA Scaife Fellow this June, I was introduced to Dr. Somov’s model and was struck by how it approached recovery from a slightly different angle.

For example, AA’s first step can be a big hurdle for many addicts, as it is difficult to accept total “powerlessness” against a substance. Pavel Somov might say that every time addicts use, they let an inanimate object control their actions and give the substance more power than it deserves. This idea gets close to the “powerlessness” that AA speaks about.

In the end, both of these models address the idea of powerlessness in addiction, but approach it from slightly different perspectives. It is up to clinicians to decide which viewpoint or viewpoints will reach each patient.”

Here’s a collection of essays on my approach to substance use recovery:

12-Step v. Non-Step

Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the author of 7 mindfulness-based self-help books. Several of his books have been translated into Chinese, Dutch & Portuguese. Somov is on the Advisory Board for the Mindfulness Project (London, UK). Somov has conducted numerous workshops on mindfulness-related topics and appeared on a number of radio programs. Somov's book website is and his practice website is

Marla Somova, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the co-author of "Smoke Free Smoke Break" (2011).

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APA Reference
Somov, P. (2016). 12-Step v. Non-Step. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Oct 2016
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