The major faith based programs for alcohol problems consist of the 12 Steps philosophy developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and modified by Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and others. Today, the 12 Steps are a fundamental philosophy which, in whole or in part, is used in the majority of alcohol and drug rehab and treatment programs.
The 12 Steps of AA grew out of the religious beliefs of a fundamentalist Christian movement known as the Oxford Group during the 1930s. Before becoming AA, the group was known informally as the Christian Fellowship.
In Step 1, the AA members admit that they are powerless over alcohol. They then state in Step 2 that they "came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." In Step 3 they assert that they "made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God." Step 4 involves making a "searching moral inventory" of themselves. In Step 5 they have "admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." In Step 6 followers are "entirely ready to have God remove...defects of character" and, in Step 7, God is further asked to "remove our shortcomings."
Steps 8-10 involve making amends to those harmed by one's substance use, continuously taking a "personal inventory" of one's own wrongs and issues, and promptly admitting when they are wrong.
In Step 11, AA adherents "sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." This is followed by the final step in which they report "having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
12 Step programs teach the belief that drug and alcohol use is an incurable genetic disease that has been passed down from generation to generation in your family. They believe that you have an alcoholism or addiction gene and that the only treatment is belief in and submission to a higher power, meetings for the rest of your life, and total lifelong abstinence. 12 Step programs promote the idea that you are powerless in your efforts to stop using alcohol and drugs and that relapse is a certainty.
12 Step programs convince their members that their substance use is not their fault because they are victims. There is no encouragement to move beyond substance use, because12 Step programs do not believe that you can get better because you are diseased. You are instead destined, due to your failed spin of the genetic wheel to forever attend meetings, deal with the cycles of treatment, relapse and maintain an unattainable lifelong abstinence. The ultimate message is you will fail, you will fail many times and the substances are far more powerful than you so accept your failures and relapses as inevitable.
So how effective are the 12 Steps in helping people become and stay sober? Unfortunately, AA's own data indicate that the success rate is no higher than 5%. Only one of every 20 members is sober at the end of one year. Drug oriented 12 step programs appear to just as ineffective.
On the other hand, the Cognitive Behavioral Education (CBE) provided at the Retreat Houses operated by the non-profit Saint Jude Retreats program has a demonstrated long-term success rate of at least 62 % in helping guests go on to achieve and maintain fulfilling lives completely free of alcohol consumption. CBE states each person has the innate ability to control and make changes in their life, including substance use behavior, as they wish. The CBE program seeks to provide people with information and tools for them to learn to self-assess their choices, learn better decision making skills and create their own plan with goals to be productive and happy. If you want to regain control of your substance use and your life and move forward into goals and decisions you design for your happiness, call Saint Jude Retreats now at 888.424.2626 for further information.