In alcohol treatment methods development there are two conflicting views about what causes alcohol misuse. One is that it results from a brain disease caused by a hereditary alcoholic gene that is passed down from generation to generation. The other view is that it is a series of choices and behavior patterns that can be changed through Cognitive Behavioral Education (CBE). Each view has its own methods addressing alcohol abuse.
Traditional approaches to alcohol treatment methods development that believe in the brain disease theory include the 12 steps. Twelve step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), teach that alcohol abuse results from a genetic defect for which there is no cure. These programs teach the belief that people who misuse alcohol cannot help it; it is not their fault because they are victims of a disease of addiction. The 12 step philosophy asserts that alcoholics are powerless to control their alcohol use, that they cannot overcome it, and that they will always remain alcoholic.
Habitual alcohol use is not a brain disease but is a learned behavior pattern. For example, children born into families where alcohol use is a problem, but are then adopted by non-alcohol-using families are less likely to misuse alcohol. If alcohol abuse were caused by a brain disease, the children would have grown up to be alcohol abusers. There is no disease of addiction.
The 12 step teachings contend that the only appropriate treatment is submitting to the will of God or a Higher Power, abstaining from all alcohol, and engaging in a lifetime of group meetings. They further teach that relapse is a given; it will happen and because alcoholics are powerless against it, they will probably spend the rest of your their lives in and out of rehab. AA has a success rate of about five percent, or one out of twenty.
To assist with the treatment of alcohol misuse, methadone clinics prescribe medication to detox from alcohol use. The theory is that patients will first transition to methadone and then will later transition from methadone to abstinence from alcohol. Methadone is a controlled substance -- an opiate -- and like other opiates such as morphine and vicodin, its use carries the risk of addiction. Research studies show that some people begin taking methadone, become dependent on it, and never stop taking it.
Cognitive Behavioral Education is based on the fact that people often turn to alcohol because of a lack of confidence, low self-esteem, or high stress. They may rely on alcohol to cope with feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy. They may feel overwhelmed and turn to alcohol to deal with life's problems. Learning the skills to be able to handle those feelings of inadequacy and learning behaviors that will eliminate them, increases confidence and gives people the power to turn away from alcohol use rather than turn to it.
The St. Jude Retreats use Cognitive Behavioral Education to teach guests how to prioritize their personal goals, self-analyze their behavior, develop behavior patterns that promote reaching their goals, and apply techniques to raise self-esteem, self-confidence, reduce stress, and address problems with strength. They are then able to take back control of their lives.
Following the 12 steps has a very low success rate, taking methadone sometimes leads to methadone addiction, but participating in Cognitive Behavioral Education results in a long term success rate of at least 62 percent.