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Why is St Jude Retreats defined as a Non-Treatment Program?

Core Differences, and how our model is more successful than Treatment.

A Non Treatment Program to Overcome AddictionAs you read through our site you might have noticed that we are a non-treatment program - But what does that mean?

Addiction, or the use of alcohol and/or drugs in any pattern, is not a disease, but rather, a choice. Therefore there is nothing to "treat." The non-treatment methods we use to help people struggling with alcohol and drug problems are based on teaching positive behavioral self-change, responsibility for one's actions, and finding greater purpose and fulfillment in one's life through a Social and Educational approach.

Ultimately - Our Program helps people to create their own physical brain changes through new learned actions, behaviors and thought patterns, created by them, by their own self motivated power.


  • Knows the fact that brain tissue can be re-mapped through mindfully changed habits and changes in thinking patterns.[+]
  • Teaches the fact that addiction is not genetically inherited.[+]
  • Uses no labels or judgments, ever.[+]
  • The fact that addiction is not a disease, instead it is a series of repeated choices, habits and behaviors.[+]
  • Uses a freedom and choice based educational model, with no control or judgment whatsoever.[+]
  • Uses education as basis of program.[+]
  • Non-Religious Program, but accepts all personal beliefs as valid for the individual.[+]
  • Implements a completely Personalized Program with small class sizes and one-on-one education when requested by the guest.[+]

Non Treatment, Saint Jude's


  • Believes you have a brain disease.
    You Are Powerless.
    The Disease of Addiction is Incurable
  • Believes you genetically inherit an addiction gene.
    All Family Members are Diseased
  • Uses labels such as addict, diseased and alcoholic.
  • Believes that people have a chronic disease of addiction.
  • Creates limits & boundaries throughout treatment and in therapy sessions.
  • Uses therapy as basis of program.
  • Religious Affiliation Incorporated In Treatment.
    You Can Not Change and Only God can Save You
  • Implements Group Therapy Sessions and 12 Step Group meetings.
    In Treatment and Forever After

Treatment Centers

Success Rate 65%UNDISCLOSED
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The Brain can Change:

Brain tissue is "plastic," meaning that the brain can always change in structure through relearned thought patterns and choices. While many treatment centers will say that an addiction is impossible to break, it is not. The science behind this educational method is called Neuroplasticity, and is one of the main components and results of the program lessons. Right now the brain is wired to relate happy feelings and pleasure with alcohol or drugs and their use, simply because the individual reinforced this as a learned habit. But, the brain can be taught to re-learn these associations no different than learning to speak or drive a car - all learned behaviors! (Schwartz, Doige)

Take for example a teenager who gets food poisoning after eating chicken wings. The episode of being violently sick is neuroplastically driven into the brain tissue as memories attached to this unhappy event. Now, every time chicken wings are served, the brain will associate that particular smell and/or taste with those bad memories of vomiting, headache and sickness. This will almost seemingly turn the brain off from it, which is why people will commonly say "I can't eat that anymore, I got really sick from it." After years and years the brain continues to have a negative association with that particular food, even though the person loved it and enjoyed it before the "negative experience" occurred. This, of course can also occur in the opposite direction, as is the case with an active substance user. Once they feel the "high" and enjoy it, they reinforce that neuronal circuit thus reinforcing it, making it habitual. The point is, our feelings and thoughts drive these circuits to be built within the brain. Since our choices and thoughts create these habits, they can also change them.

That is exactly what the educational processes of the St. Jude Program accomplish - they teach a seemingly hopeless person how to gain their power back and self-change! It's possible to create new happy experiences and behaviors to replace drinking and drugging.

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The Addiction Gene:

Many people have beliefs and pre-determined ideas regarding drugs or alcohol. Becoming habituated to the use of substances involves much more psychologically than with biological makeup or a supposed addiction gene. (Peele) This being said, an individual's thoughts about how a drug or alcohol will affect them is influenced by their mind, especially if they have seen drinking patterns or drug use as a child.

A great analogy for this influence is someone who is overweight and has every excuse in the book for why they are in this unhealthy state. If someone tells them they are genetically predisposed to be overweight, they may believe this misinformation and may also begin using it as an excuse to eat more and exercise less. They might then think "I'm meant to be this way, I can't help, it's in my genes." Realistically, we have ALL heard this type of deterministic gene theory from some source throughout our lifetimes. This example is no different than someone who drinks all day because they believe they were "born" to be a drinker!

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There is No Disease of Addiction:

Accordingly, at St. Jude's do not use labels. At the Saint Jude Retreats, we don't compartmentalize your personal problems with the use of labels. Nor do we use the word addiction to classify you as a means to control you and make our jobs easier as do other programs who have little true understanding of the problem. There is no evidence that addiction was or is a disease, but rather it is a cultural belief that has been developed over the last century here in America. Today, there seems to be an addiction to every behavior that our society does not understand or agree with. Video game addiction, internet addiction, shopping addiction, but they are all habits or behaviors that bring the individual pleasurable. We hear things like, "I had a bad day, I'm going shopping, it cheers me up!" all the time.

People aren't addicted to substances, they chose to use substances because they like how they feel when using them. Using labels such as addict or alcoholic creates a victim mentality. Treatment labels people as "poor addicts" who can't help their behavior. This usage of terms is damaging. By not allowing the person who is using to take responsibility and accountability for their actions they remain in a state of depression and seemingly unchangeable circumstances! The more someone believes they are diseased, the less control they feel they have. Labels can truly create dangerous thoughts and ultimately a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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The Freedom Model is nothing like treatment:

Our program allows guest to create and map out their own futures. We don't control our guests or manipulate their thoughts as do other programs, because ultimately we understand from more than 2 decades of helping individuals with serious alcohol and drug problems that the individual has a mind of their own and they are going to do what they want to do. Creating an environment that is limiting and controlling (as treatment implements in their facilities) is not setting people up for success, but rather, is subtly telling that individual that we do not believe in them or their ability to effectively problem solve. Once users realize the control is in their hands and then learn new options that can replace drinking or drugging, the desire to use fades away. The neuroplastic changes begin to form in the brain as new habits and choices replace the previous self limiting and damaging habits of the past. Our program also does not use therapy techniques, because many therapists or "addiction therapists" tend to try to sway their clients into thinking a certain way. A therapist can help you dig up deep rooted issues, but if their opinion is interjected, you truly aren't creating your own path going forward, due to their influences. Self change must come from the individual for permanent results to occur! Moderation can equal success.

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Religion Affiliations In popular treatment programs:

A higher power is frequently included in the treatment model as a requirement for the patient to attain a sober lifestyle. Also, in traditional court ordered rehab cases, the individual will be referred to a 12 step program that carries the belief that the only path to remain sober is if they surrender to this higher power or God. Not only is this forcing religion on people who may otherwise have different beliefs, it is causing people to feel like they don't have complete control. You don't have to believe in anything except your own power to overcome your substance use problems, or if you are religious, you are completely allowed to belief as you wish, as that is a highly personal choice. Although our name is the Saint Jude Retreats, our program model is not based on any type of religion or higher power, although we do support all personal preferences to practice religion or to be an atheist. Personal beliefs are held in high regard at St. Jude's as is your natural autonomy as an individual. To learn about how our name came to be the Saint Jude Retreats, click here.

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Education is the basis of our program:

Many treatment centers offer therapy, acupuncture, meditation and yoga as their "treatment methods." While these therapies are great for relaxation there is no proven correlation between sobriety and holistic therapy. That's why in the St Jude Program we base our program on education, a proven effective method for more than the millennia. Each guest is given a book and workout, which outlines the three stages of the program; Empowerment, Self Analysis, and Self-Actualization otherwise known as the Past, Present and the Future. Social activities are integrated into the program to reinforce skills such as trust, motivation, confidence and forgiveness. The education and social components work together to create a personalized plan so each guest can complete an outline of goals to stop using or drinking and then move past to issues that deal with marriage, career, and general life fulfillment and happiness.

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Group Therapy Vs Personalized Program:

At Saint Jude's we offer small classes with one to three people, so you will not be sitting in large therapy groups, hearing about everyone else's problems. These large meetings are not productive or effective which is why we clearly stay away from them. Your journey at St Jude's will be about you, creating your own path through the method of Cognitive Behavioral Education (CBE). CBE is the methodology that you can create your own self-directed change, and ultimately create new decisions on drug or alcohol use based on your own behaviors, thoughts and choices. Our CBE Certified Instructors will help you map out your personalized program in which you pick your own goals you wish to pursue, which will replace your desire to drink or use drugs moving forward.

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