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Is the Twelve-Step Doctrine Dangerous?

Posted Feb 02 2009 10:49pm
Rehabilitation from alcoholism in the US is practically synonymous with Alcoholics Anonymous. Some may be perplexed, however, with the twelve-step doctrine, which describes alcoholism as a medical disease with a spiritual solution.

This may be a real concern. A recent study published by the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that patients who receive spiritual guidance as part of treatment were more anxious and depressed after four to eight months (a critical period in recovery, when risk of suicide is the highest) than those who participated in secular psychotherapy.

This can be attributed to "demanding spiritual calisthenics in the early months of their recovery" (Time Magazine) and rigid dogma of the AA program, which has caused many to question whether AA is more of a cult than a self-help group.

Members of AA indoctrinate "newcomers" into the program by differentiating themselves from the larger population, which they call "normies". Those who leave the 12-step program are said to "go out", which is believed to cause unavoidable relapse.

While AA has helped countless men and women who choose spirituality and a belief in a "higher power", others may find more success and peace-of-mind with an alternate approach to recovery.

Battling Addiction: Are 12 Steps Too Many? (TIME Magazine January 2009)

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