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Cognitive Behavioral Learning

The core methodology and basis of our Program.


Cognitive Behavioral LearningWhat is Cognitive Behavioral Education (CBL)?
CBL is the learning process to becoming aware of the three following human attributes: your free will, your Positive Drive Principle, and your autonomy. If you notice, all of these attributes are mental attributes; they are products of your mind and your thoughts. CBL also includes the information in the St. Jude Program text and workbook which covers how to put these attributes into action in your life. Here is the CBL process in a nutshell; from thoughts (cognitive) come behaviors, (behavioral) and from behaviors we learn (learning).

CBL addresses more than just the challenges of addiction on a personal level; it is constantly raising questions about the misleading American addiction culture as a whole. We call this culture of misinformed and often dangerous addiction mythology the recovery society. The recovery society includes treatment, recovery, 12 step dogma, and any method that attempts to stave off addiction through some external means such as therapy, rehab, support meetings, etc. In contrast to the recovery society, CBL is internal to you - so you ALWAYS HAVE CONTROL. CBL is also based on being motivated past addiction rather than being fearful of addiction or feeling deprived of your wants and desires.

The CBL Method is quite simple. We recognize these 3 human attributes:

  • Positive Drive Principle (PDP) - the natural drive toward happiness behind all human behavior. People do what they believe is their best feasible option for achieving a satisfying, happy existence at any given moment of time.
  • Free Will - the unique human ability to choose. It is also an imperative. If a man doesn't choose, then he doesn't behave in any way. All behavior is chosen.
  • Autonomy - the independent nature of the human mind. It is why we can't be forced to think or feel (emotionally) in any particular way by any one or thing outside of ourselves. It is also why personal change is a choice, we choose to think, and we choose what to think, which in turn directs our actions.

And then we present a learning experience with information and exercises that provide a proactive way to tap into the attributes as tools for personal change. In CBL, you are seen as already fully capable of solving your problem. Think about that. Does any methodology within the recovery society assume you have decision making power and that you will make the correct choice for yourself? Recovery society charades in which it is pretended that someone else can force you to change long-term, are avoided at all costs in CBL. Judgments of what choices you "should" or "shouldn't" make are avoided in the CBL experience as well, and are left up to the individual. In CBL we focus on providing factual information and solid self-evident theory in every CBL experience or exercise. You can then use these exercises as tools to make the choices that will serve you best, according to your own preferences and judgment - not ours, nor society's preferences.

As a CBL participant, your role is easy to follow: do your best to grasp and consider the information and theories presented and then choose to apply those lessons or not – whatever suits your needs better. As you challenge the habits of thought and action that have left you troubled, depressed, anxious, confused and frustrated you will become more active and motivated to positively and confidently change them. If you stick with fear and external control based methods, you'll miss out on what can be gained by the CBL method.

The St. Jude Retreats and the St. Jude Program would be totally unnecessary if the treatment industry and the recovery movement didn't exist. The reason is simple: most of what keeps people stuck in their substance use habits are the ideas that treatment programs and recovery groups have spread into our culture. Most of what you could learn at a drug and alcohol treatment center or support meeting is wrong and lowers your chances at positive lifestyle change. We know this from firsthand experience, having been led astray by the recovery myths ourselves, and from decades of research. Because these myths of addiction and its recovery are so prevalent in our culture (and now abroad) and have caused damage to the lives of millions, it became our goal at Baldwin Research Institute and St. Jude's to build a model that would undo the damage caused by this addiction mythology that permeates our culture today. This is what has enabled us to be the ones who effectively help those who've been in and out of dozens of treatment programs for decades. We can assist the toughest cases see through the myths that keep them stuck, and we will help you too.

We will use the umbrella term, the recovery society throughout the program text and our websites. This term describes the addiction and recovery myths; the so-called experts, recovery groups and activists who propagate these myths; and the formal systems of treatment and support that our society now forces substance users to participate in. Unfortunately the whole of them are causing damage (often unknowingly) to the very population they're intending to help. The St. Jude Retreats and our programs presented therein have helped thousands avoid the pitfalls of the recovery society.

Freedom; the New Choice

Addiction is a fundamental lack of mental and emotional freedom. It is that horrible feeling that you are stuck, and unable to change. It is the mental cage, a boxed mindset, a fearful belief that something else controls your mind (you) and your body. The new choice is freedom, the undoing of those misinformed mental, emotional and physical shackles. Most of what we address throughout the program deals with how and why we think the way we do, and how that affects our lives. The physical aspects of "addiction" are covered as well, but take a subordinate position throughout the material, because after all, if you didn't think about substances the way you do and for the reasons you do, then the body would not be affected at all. It takes a desire to get drunk and high to set off the physical dependence and physical brain neuroplasticity aspects of "addiction." So while physical dependence and neuroplastic brain tissue change is discussed in some of the material, it takes a backseat to understanding the mental drive and beliefs that fuel the idea that your are somehow out of control and in need of a substance/s. It is after all your mind that is the engine driving this train.

If you want to be free, truly free, then the St. Jude Program is the right fir for you. If you want to hang onto a victim mentality, then it's not. Our goal is simple - clear away the misinformation so you can see just how powerful you are and always have been. As we clear the myths away, we will fill their void with an intuitive understanding of your inherent ability to create and direct the course of your own life.

It's a wonderful thing to know you no longer have to live in fear and remorse. You can move on and be free! You can change all your troubling emotional and behavioral patterns - even those that may have felt out of your own control. You can be happy, fulfilled and energized. You can grow out of the recovery society and into your own version of self-created bliss. We have decades of research and experience to share with you.


  • To help individuals understand that there are no "causes" for addiction or substance use, but rather, individuals find reasons to explain their heavy substance use habits to themselves and/or to others. These reasons may include traumas, stress, enjoyment, relief, etc.
  • To demonstrate how the reasons for their substance use are controlled by the individual, and as such the reasons can be separated from the substance use habit. For instance, a traumatic event in one's life does not have to lead to substance use. Separating life's stresses, difficulties and traumas from the choice to use substances is an incredibly powerful aspect of CBL. As no one can ever be sheltered from stress, this separation empowers people who may have previously believed in the causal effect to work through and overcome natural life stressors and events while choosing not to get high or drunk. This unique aspect of CBL is found in no other program, and is one of the many reasons the CBL method is a more effective teaching model than any other program method in the world.
  • To educate individuals on how to self-change through self-analysis and positive reinforcement, rather than through a therapist "telling the individual how they should behave" or through controlling, manipulative and punitive approaches common to counseling and therapeutic methods.
  • Throughout the process the CBL Certified Presenter provides tools so the substance user may examine their specific reasons for substance use, so each can become fully aware of them and then make informed choices. This process is called separating the cultural connection.

    The primary purpose of CBL is to help the substance user to examine his/her thoughts, choices, motivations, and goals; and then build new habits that are more in line with those goals.


    CBL is a method that enables you to rethink behaviors and habits associated with drug and alcohol use, on your own, not by coercion, manipulation and moral judgments of a therapist or counselor who barely knows you. Our experience shows that many therapists and/or counselors are well-intentioned professionals with misinformation and questionable tactics that result in patients developing a more dependent lifestyle and poor long term results. To rectify this inherent problem with treatment programs across the country, the research staff at the St. Jude Retreats created CBL's roots of education in 1989, and spent the last quarter century measuring the method to ensure CBL continues its track record of providing tools for self-change and positive life transformation.

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