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Addiction & Treatment

1996 Baldwin Research Breaks Free of Alcoholics Anonymous

A Long Time Coming

As reported earlier in this paper, BRI researchers encouraged the subjects of the Baldwin Research Project of 1990 to think of themselves as "recovered," i.e. cured. Considering oneself a "recovered alcoholic" was, and is, heretical to Alcoholics Anonymous' orthodoxy. It is an affront to the most basic belief, a belief that was required rhetoric that every person who speaks at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting must introduce themselves by saying "I'm [first name] and I'm an alcoholic." BRI research subjects contending that they were "recovered alcoholics" created a decade of conflict with the Alcoholics Anonymous orthodoxy that asserted "You are not cured." By 1991 the rhetoric between the opposing points of view became so divisive that the researchers set up meetings that were separate from other Alcoholics Anonymous meetings dubbing the new meetings "Old Fashioned AA." Orthodox Alcoholics Anonymous members, from time to time, attended Old Fashioned AA for the purpose of disrupting the Old Fashioned AA meetings and the controversy raged on for another 4 years. Finally, in 1996 the researchers and the members of Old Fashioned AA exited Alcoholics Anonymous and established a new support group known as The Fellowship.

The Fellowship was totally independent of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Fellowship meetings were not listed in the local Alcoholics Anonymous' meeting book, so members of orthodox Alcoholics Anonymous had no way of knowing where The Fellowship meetings were being held. Remarkably, throughout the previous tumultuous years the success rate of the Tri-Key Program (predecessor of the Baldwin Program, Baldwin Program, Jude Thaddeus Program TM, St. Jude Program, CBE Program for Substance Use and CBL Program for Substance Use) then being taught at The Hagaman Guest House (subsequently known as St. Jude Twin Rivers Retreat) remained at approximately 72%. What was then known as the Tri-Key Program was initially the book Alcoholics Anonymous. Then, in 1993, The Hagaman Guest House adopted as its teaching text the Original Manuscript for the book Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1993 the Tri-Key Program became the Baldwin Program and then in 1999 it became the Jude Thaddeus Program. With each name change the program moved farther and farther away from Alcoholics Anonymous' theoretical nonsense.

Almost a decade later, in 2002, the Jude Thaddeus Program was the gateway to a support group program known as "The Fellowship," which was established by the Baldwin researchers in June of 1995. Though support groups today are most often associated with problematic behaviors such as using alcohol, using drugs and gambling, actually support groups have been around since human-kind began. Support groups develop as a result of common beliefs, such as religions, or from common interests, such as labor unions and political parties, or from common problems, such as drug and alcohol use, along with a myriad of other reasons. So in 1995 when the relationship with Alcoholics Anonymous became untenable, BRI researchers founded The Fellowship. At the time The Fellowship was founded there was no science that indicated a support group society was helpful for solving drug and alcohol use problems. No matter-the thinking was that support groups had been created for all kinds of problems and people attended the meetings, so they must be good and needed.