For many individuals who are struggling with their alcohol use, there may come a moment when they ask, do I have a choice in my drinking? As society has made a habit of attaching the word addiction to everything from shopping, gaming and eating to substance use, it stands to reason that people with alcohol use would assume that if they are addicted they do not have a choice.

12 step programs have for a number of years taught the false idea that alcohol use is an incurable genetic disease that has been passed down through families generation to generation. 12 step programs want their members to believe that they are powerless against their urge to use alcohol and that they will fail in their attempts to quit alcohol use. They want you to believe that the only treatment available is belief in a higher power, meetings for the rest of your life and abstinence, which they say you cannot achieve. So where does this leave the members of 12 step program: defenseless, powerless, a failure. With this type of opinion of their members, it really is no wonder 12 step programs have a 95 percent dropout rate.

The truth is that you are not diseased and there is no proof that an alcoholic gene exists. Your alcohol use is a learned behavior that it is possible you learned from family or friends close to you, but it is behavior that you learned to do. You can lean to stop using alcohol completely or learn to moderate your alcohol use, but the bottom line is that you do have a choice in your drinking.

Recognizing that you have an alcohol use issue and making the decision to get help is a step in the direction of changing the behavior and beginning a new life that is free from the control of alcohol. It is important that you enlist the aid of a program that will support your desire to change your behavior and not meet you at the door with defeat.

You will not find the type of assistance to support a change in behavior in a 12 step program. Remember, they think you have a disease, which you don’t have. Cognitive behavioral education has proven to be an effective method to help individuals change their behavior patterns and to break their alcohol use.

Cognitive behavioral education does not believe in the alcohol use is a disease theory, nor does it believe in an alcoholic gene or that you are helpless and powerless in your alcohol use. Rather, cognitive behavioral education teaches individuals to use self assessment and self change to reevaluate their choices and decisions and to make productive decisions and choices, as well as to develop positive habits and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral education builds self confidence and self esteem and gives you the understanding and knowledge to quit your alcohol use or to moderate your use if that is what you choose to do. Whatever you choose, you are in control.

St. Jude Retreats offers a cognitive behavioral education program that helps guests have freedom in their alcohol use. Our guests are empowered and discover that they can have a life that is not controlled by alcohol use.