Alcohol rehabilitation treatment providers are nearly universally wedded to the outdated 12-Step model that only works for approximately ten percent of the men they were designed for, much less for women.

Women, and their usually differing needs, motivations, and solutions, are merely lumped into this one-size-kinda/sorta-fits-all category with predictably poor results.

Many women find it impossible to access help that addresses their particular circumstances, life stages, degrees of alcohol involvement, and other relevant factors.

This isn't surprising, because there are very few programs available that offer these services. Since women generally are more comfortable talking about problems rather than actively making the changes necessary to solve them, we tend to shy away from newer models of treatment that ask more of us.

This is unfortunate. The older, 12-step model of treatment, that is readily found in group meetings, undermines our strengths and plays into the "victim" mentality that society imposes on women who drink too much, rather than addressing individual women and their unique situations.

Are their better options available?

Of course there are, though they're harder to find.

Real change involves more than conferring a label like "alcoholic" and prescribing a series of rituals.

Rooting out a problem, or eliminating its negative consequences, means assessing a woman's strengths, interests, and needs.

It also means changing her day-to-day life in ways that are fulfilling and motivating. It's really about changing oneself so that specific problems no longer have fertile ground to grow in.

Alcohol abuse or dependence isn't something that occurs in isolation. Getting over it can't be addressed as either a single problem unrelated to the rest of one's life, or an activity that can be altered without other changes also occurring.

Such life-altering steps need and deserve good support.

Good support in this case is actually a little different than what we, as women, tend to migrate towards. Research in women's development finds that under stress we tend to regress towards group conformity rather than move forward towards individually based solutions.

What this means is that we are more comfortable choosing a socially acceptable solution rather than one that might really works for us. However, alcohol abuse is highly individual, therefore long-term solutions need to be equally unique.

Remember, alcohol misuse, ranging from abuse to dependence to addiction, is not an equal opportunity, nor necessarily, progressive condition.

Effectively intervening and relieving a specific woman's symptoms means accurately assessing strengths, interests, circumstances, and preferences.

Only then can an action plan be devised that addresses all of the components that have led to the current problems - a plan that is based on her wishes and needs, not one based on an imposed, and largely inapplicable, model.

Professional help can make the process much more effective and efficient. Look for programs that take into account individual goals and needs, not those of the program or counselor merely looking to acquire another long-term client.

Intensive short-term assessment and planning followed by implementation and follow-up should lead to substantial permanent change in less than a year.