Most people enrolled in this program have been through the alcohol and drug treatment mill, and have learned many ideas about substance use that are incorrect. These erroneous ideas, methods and theories can become serious stumbling blocks that stop people from gaining the wonderful life that awaits them. Labels like "alcoholic," "addict," or "co-dependent" can actually stop people from seeing who they really are and how they can effectively deal with their problems. If people blindly accept these labels and base their actions on wrong assumptions, progress towards happiness can be hampered or even blocked completely.
Traditional programs label people. These labels become central to each person's understanding as to who they are. They forget they have choices and the ability to change their own lives for something much better and certainly less self-defeating. These same people, if misguided long enough, behave as the labels specify, and eventually the label becomes a part of their identity. In other words, what they believe about themselves, they become.
In the field of helping people overcome substance use problems, there are two camps: the control model programs and the Freedom Model developed by Baldwin Research Institute, Inc. This program is based on the Freedom Model. A comprehensive discussion that explains the differences between the two philosophies will be presented in detail later in this text.
By way of a brief explanation, the control model is any program that teaches how and what to think according to moral and behavioral standards created, for you, by others. In contrast, the Freedom Model empowers you to establish your own moral and behavioral standards based on what you decide are best for you. The Freedom Model does not use coercion or "bait and switch" tactics to force you to think in a particular way. It presents options, educating you on proven ways of changing your life. Ultimately, you will rebuild your life to the exact extent that you decide is appropriate for you...
...At this point your options are clear: you can either continue to accept the price you have been paying for your counterproductive habits or you can change the behavior. It is not the purpose of this program to make that decision for you. Instead, this program will present options and guide you to a set of tools that already exist within you. These tools will enable you to make lasting changes in your life. The program will not coerce you, nor will it presume to know what you are thinking. As for identifying what needs changing in your life, we leave those decisions completely up to you.
We know from research that people are not able to conduct any action in their lives, including seemingly destructive behavior, without cognitively choosing to do so first. (Thagard, 2008) When people, regardless of who they are, judge the substance user's behaviors as inconceivable and wrong, and then draw the conclusion based solely on this judgment that the substance user must be in denial or they would not behave this way, the denial theory is then used to support and explain the bad or wrong behavior. This round robin rationale is based on the value system of whom ever is making the judgment; in other words the family member, friend or professional makes the judgment based on what they believe is good and bad or right and wrong. From this explanation it becomes easy to see that denial is a theory implemented to excuse the destructive choices and actions made by an active substance user...
...While the St. Jude Program is designed to put all control where it belongs, in your hands, programs based on the control model do the opposite: they take away your control, not allowing you to make your own life choices. Control model programs are ineffective because they teach individuals that they are powerless to change their own behavior, powerless to make the choice to abstain and powerless to change their lives on their own. Control model programs create a learned helplessness which is the opposite of confidence and maturity. These programs have been ineffective for more than seventy years. In fact, control model substance use programs that systematically teach people that they are powerless to change their behaviors have been, through extensive research, proven to be harmful. (Miller, 1986; Sobell, 1996)
People who find happiness in activities that are seemingly destructive certainly may want to be introduced to other options that may provide greater long term and even greater short term satisfaction. Again, that is what the St. Jude Program is all about: option presentation, not judgment. In presenting new options to the student, a new world may come into view, one much more fulfilling than the choices currently being made.