Many people are unfamiliar with the choice based option or even what Saint Jude Retreats does. I’ve tried to explain it to my own mother several times and the best way I can explain it to her is by comparing it to chocolate cake. All jokes aside, the two: alcohol and cake although completely different are comparable when it comes down to three things: choices, temptations and consequences.

I said to my mom, who has never really drank and is completely oblivious to the alcohol treatment industry, “AA is comparable to someone telling you that you can never eat chocolate cake again, for the rest of your life.” I continued, “Now think about it. You love chocolate cake, you love the taste, and you could probably live without ever eating it again, but it makes it way more tempting to eat, because you are told you CAN’T have it.” Any dieter knows that telling someone they can’t have something makes them want it more. What you can’t have becomes the focus of your thoughts rather than being a relaxed person who can choose to pass on the cake or enjoy a small sliver.

I went on to say, “Now our program teaches people that they have the choice to eat cake or not to eat cake, but if you eat cake you might gain a few pounds, especially if you eat it frequently or in large quantities. However, eating cake in moderation, can be enjoyable while not sabotaging a diet. Ultimately each person must make the choice to eat it or not to eat it and be responsible for that choice.”

I continued to explain to her how other treatment centers view addiction as a disease.  “When people drink heavily and/or frequently they are told they have a brain disease resulting in a supposed powerless over alcohol, but those who eat large amounts of cake are not said to be suffering from a disease that makes them powerless over cake. Any nutritionist or medical expert would tell you that’s just a poor excuse and that there are better activities you can substitute for eating cake, such as reading a book or calling a friend. They won’t sympathize with you either; they will say you’re overweight because you made yourself that way, through your choices regarding food.”

At this point I had not allowed her to get a word in but I wanted to make my point clear, “Our program is different because it develops and reinforces each person’s individual power of choice with respect to all behaviors. People can choose to eat a small piece of cake, and stop or just pass on the cake completely or they can choose to continue eating cake in large quantities. Each choice and behavior brings with it specific consequences. We help them realize that they are responsible for their own actions.”

She responded to me, “Oh! I get that!” I had to break it down to the most simplest comparison, but she finally got it. I wanted her to understand the difference we make in people’s lives. I wanted her to realize people make these choices to not indulge in temptations (such as cake) every day. Even though it’s a challenge, temptations can be overcome, and it’s possible to change your way of thinking completely. People who demonstrate this dedication, opt for a side salad instead of fries, a jog instead of TV, studying for a test over going out with friends; people make these CHOICES because they know it will improve their life in some way, shape or form.

Just like some cake lovers, there are heavy drinkers who at some point might wake up one day and feel ready to make a big change. If you are one of those people and are ready to make that important change in your own life, Saint Jude’s is here to guide you in the empowering process of self-directed change. It’s about moving towards your goals and dreams, not being given limitations and labels; and motivating yourself to build a better life, rather than running from a dreadful past. To effectively change your life you must start by making different choices, and moving in a positive direction, and change can only come from you.