Addiction & Treatment
2000 - BRI Officially Rejects Alcoholics Anonymous' Teachings
ADHERING TO AA'S BIG BOOK
By the year 2000, the only remaining similarities between Alcoholics Anonymous and the Jude Thaddeus Program was Alcoholics Anonymous' Four Absolutes: love, honesty, purity and unselfishness. Additionally, at that time BRI's program stressed a need to serve others and nurture a personal relationship with God. But, these characteristics were most certainly not unique, nor were they creations of Alcoholics Anonymous. Loving one another, being honest, having a pure heart, being unselfish, serving others and having a personal relationship with God are elements of all the major religions of the world and have been around for thousands of years. That said, these ideals were known and practiced by the BRI researchers long before the BRI researchers were exposed to Alcoholics Anonymous, in that both of the researchers were raised in a Judeo-Christian culture. Thus, there were no actual remnants of Alcoholics Anonymous in the Jude Thaddeus Program after 1999.
Moreover, at that time the researchers and authors of the Jude Thaddeus Program abandoned all the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous, including the 12-steps. BRI's rejection of the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is significant because the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is Alcoholics Anonymous. So, by rejecting Alcoholics Anonymous' 12-steps as a "program of recovery," BRI was rejecting Alcoholics Anonymous as a viable solution for drug and alcohol problems.
The following is not intended to debase the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, but rather to factually report on more than 26 years of researching and studying the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and its attendant culture.
BRI researchers found the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the book entitled Alcoholics Anonymous woefully lacking in empirical evidence to substantiate its claims, frequent misrepresentations, and numerous fabrications. While these egregious departures from any scientific method are too numerous to include here, the researchers have documented a few examples for consideration.
According to the book entitled Alcoholics Anonymous the following quote is contained in the FORWARD TO THE SECOND EDITION, page XX, which was written in (circa) 1955:
"Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those that stayed on with A.A. showed improvement."
For the scientifically unsophisticated this success rate claim was, and still is, convincing good news. This claim, however, is not science; it's marketing. It is, not so cleverly, disguised as science but actually is completely devoid of any scientific method. What is missing from the claim is far more important than the claim, itself. How was the data collected to produce the reported result? How long was the study? How many subjects made up the study? What methodology was used for the study: observational, controlled study, other? Who conducted the study? What was the definition for those who "really tried," vis-Ã -vis those who, apparently, did not "really try?" How many "really tried" as opposed to those that "didn't really try?" And, were those that failed, that didn't really try, simply left out of the study? What is the definition of "got sober at once and remained that way?" Did those that "got sober at once" remain sober for a week, a month, a year, a decade or more? And, how would those who conducted the study know that the study subjects that did not stay on with A.A. didn't show, at least the same, or more improvement than those that did stay on with A.A.? Clearly Alcoholics Anonymous' assertion of a 75% success rate was woefully lacking as to empirical evidence to substantiate its claims.
In the world of research there is a term that almost fits this occasion; it's called SWAG, Scientific Wild Ass Guess. But rather than a SWAG, what the authors of the claim really did was to make a WAG, Wild Ass Guess, because in 1955 there was no science whatsoever to support this preposterous claim. Then in the late 1970's Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. conducted a survey of its membership that concluded of those that came to Alcoholics Anonymous only 5% remained in Alcoholics Anonymous for one year or more. Then, again, in 1989 Baldwin researchers conducted a study of 10 meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in the Capital District of New York State (as previously reported in this paper). At the end of one year less than 10% of those that came to the 10 meeting were still attending these meetings. Both the Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.'s survey taken in the late 1970's and the Baldwin researchers 1989 Study reported on the empirical evidence substantiating Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.'s findings.
Misrepresentation or distortions of reality abound in the book entitled Alcoholics Anonymous, for example on pages 58 and 59 it warns:
"Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for usâ€¦"
While literary license is not lost to BRI researchers, Alcoholics Anonymous' claim that ethyl alcohol, C2H5OH, possesses characteristics of living creatures is well beyond the pale. A fox and some people have reputations of being cunning. An octopus and some people have reputations of being baffling. An elephant and some people are pretty powerful. But, alcohol! Not so much.
If the book Alcoholics Anonymous' claim, that ethyl alcohol possesses qualities of living creatures is merely literary license, what is the harm? The characterization of alcohol as a living thing provides an out for alcohol users to abdicate any and all personal responsibility for their next debacle, lamenting that alcohol is just too powerful, that "I couldn't stop myself." But the truth is that as BRI and other researchers have observed, alcohol users can and do stop themselves from using alcohol and other drugs whenever they choose. So the information that alcohol is "cunning, baffling, powerful" is at the very least, misleading, or worse, outright detrimental.
Even more misleading is the pronouncement that "Without help it is too much for us." "Us" in the sentence refers to those who use alcohol. "It" in the sentence refers to the "cunning, baffling, powerful" alcohol. So in context, the sentence is claiming, "Without help the cunning, baffling, powerful alcohol is too much for an alcohol user," i.e. the alcohol users' use of alcohol is beyond their self-determination; without outside help, they can't stop using alcohol even if they want to.
Perhaps in 1939 when Alcoholics Anonymous was written, the author(s) of the book, with the best of intentions, actually believed that the only solution for alcohol use was Divine Intervention, such as the Divine Intervention described in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. Rather than study the problem alcohol user, the author(s) merely decided that if God did not remove a person's alcohol use problem, then that person was relegated to a lifelong problem with alcohol use. Yet and even at that time (1939), hundreds of thousands of people with severe alcohol use problems had stopped their alcohol use without any outside help; and, yes, many among those that stopped without help attributed their choice to stop using alcohol to the power of their own will.
Enter the paradoxical world of Alcoholics Anonymous. That is, without regard for how much, or how often, or for how long someone uses alcohol, according to Alcoholics Anonymous, if anyone is able to stop using alcohol without Gods help and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, they are not, "real alcoholics." And, according to Alcoholics Anonymous' belief system and without regard for how much, or how often, or for how long someone uses alcohol, if that person tries to stop using alcohol, but doesn't stop, for whatever reason, then that person is a "real alcoholic."
Further, if that same person goes to Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings and embraces the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous and subsequently stops using alcohol, then that person is most certainly a "real alcoholic." However, if that same person chooses not to join Alcoholics Anonymous, but a few years later decides to quit using alcohol and, this time, does stop based solely on a personal choice to stop and never uses alcohol again, then by Alcoholics Anonymous' orthodoxy, that person was not and is not a "real alcoholic." Ergo, the only way to be a "real alcoholic" is to continue using alcohol even after attempting to quit or to join Alcoholics Anonymous.
But, how can that be? BRI researchers interviewed hundreds of people who went to drug and alcohol treatment programs, completed these programs, did not join Alcoholics Anonymous, and resumed using alcohol again, to their detriment. Would not these people qualify as "real alcoholics?" The researchers also interviewed hundreds of people who used as much or more alcohol, and used as often or more frequently and for a longer period of time than those who went to drug and alcohol treatment and/or Alcoholics Anonymous and these people, without any help, spontaneously stop using alcohol and/or drugs. Can it be that because they stopped using on their own, they are not "real alcoholics?" And whether or not they are "real alcoholics," does it matter?
It matters because it raises the question as to the difference between an "alcoholic" and a "real alcoholic." Moreover, if there really is a difference between the two, is it not reasonable that there are "alcoholic lights," i.e. people that use copious amounts of alcohol and/or drugs but experience few problems associated with their drinking and drugging habit(s)? Carrying this line of reasoning to the extremes, perhaps there are "pre-alcoholics," i.e. people who use drugs and/or alcohol, occasionally, and then there are "dead alcoholics" who overdose or die of cirrhosis.
Alcoholics Anonymous' fixation with "real alcoholics" is an absurd idea about a single physical act, which is the physical act of drinking a liquid that contains alcohol. BRI researchers began questioning the "real alcoholic" claim and the definition of the term "alcoholic" in the mid 1990's. From as early as the 1960's research reported that the most frequent method of stopping alcohol use by "alcoholics" and "real alcoholics" was personally deciding to stop using and, indeed, stopped using. The point is when "alcoholics" or "real alcoholics" are motivated to stop using, often, they do.
But what about "alcoholic lights" and "pre-alcoholics;" do they stop drinking and drugging, spontaneously? In fact, they do and for a whole variety of reasons. Some stop because of health problems; while others stop when they have children and choose to stop using, to set a good example for their kids. Still others may stop because they begin taking certain medications with which alcohol or their drug of choice interferes. The point is when "alcoholic lights" and "pre-alcoholics" are motivated to stop using, often, they do.
The research, then, is conclusive. Alcohol and drug users stop on their own, i.e. without outside help, regardless of how much they use alcohol and/or drugs, or how often they use alcohol and/or drugs, or for how long they use alcohol and/or drugs. So either, everyone that uses alcohol is an alcoholic, including Alcoholics Anonymous' fictitious "real alcoholic," or no one is alcoholic, because the class of people labeled "alcoholic" does not exist. Consider that what distinguishes one alcohol user from another is motivation. That is, all people who use alcohol have some personal motivation to do so, and their personal motivation will determine how much they use, how often they use and for how long they use.
That being the case, there are only two ways people stop using drugs and alcohol: (1) they are personally motivated to stop, and they do, or (2) they die. There is no credible evidence that external help such as Alcoholics Anonymous, drug and/or alcohol treatment programs, counseling, psychiatry, medication, acupuncture, sweat lodges, body massages, nutritional therapy, crystal therapy or witchcraft have ever helped anyone in their effort to stop using drugs and/or alcohol. In fact, the evidence is convincing that those who look outside their own personal motivation for their drug and/or alcohol use solutions have significantly less success than those that quit or moderate on their own.
But what about the people that claim that their treatment program worked for them, that Alcoholics Anonymous worked for them, or that any other outside method worked for them? It is safe if not compelling to speculate that everyone that goes to drug and alcohol treatment, goes to Alcoholics Anonymous, or seeks any other outside help are already personally motivated to stop or moderate their alcohol and/or drug use. So here is the scientific conundrum: If researchers conduct observational studies as to the abstinence rate of those that attend Alcoholics Anonymous to stop their alcohol use and they do stop, researchers cannot definitively conclude that the alcohol user's cessation of alcohol use was the direct result of participating in Alcoholics Anonymous. The fact is that the alcohol user was personally motivated to stop using alcohol and/or other substances before the user ever went to Alcoholics Anonymous and/or drug and alcohol treatment. In fact, if the user did not have a personal motivation to cease using, then the cognitive thought of attending Alcoholics Anonymous or drug and/or alcohol treatment would not have occurred.
Still there are a few circumstances where drug and/or alcohol users end up in Alcoholics Anonymous or drug and alcohol treatment programs without their personal motivation choosing to do so. The legal system frequently coerces drug and/or alcohol users into Alcoholics Anonymous and drug and alcohol treatment programs, as do family members, friends and employers. Unless while participating in Alcoholics Anonymous or while attending drug and alcohol treatment, the drug and/or alcohol user becomes personally motivated to stop using drugs and/or alcohol, these users return to drug and/or alcohol use at their earliest opportunity, according to BRI's observational research.
Except for the previous described coercive forces, personal motivation to cease using substances or to moderate use always comes before a decision to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or drug and/or alcohol treatment. That being true, the outcome of the Alcoholics Anonymous or drug and/or alcohol treatment experiences is obscured by the presence of two independent, inevitable and simultaneous variables: personal motivation versus Alcoholics Anonymous or drug and/or alcohol treatment experiences. Keep in mind, prior to the Baldwin Program (aka Jude Thaddeus Program TM, St. Jude Program), the most successful method for cessation of alcohol and drug use was personal motivation to stop or moderate. That said, this does not imply or in any way suggest that personal motivation is not integral to the St. Jude Program. Personal motivation is the very essence of the St. Jude Program.
As for Alcoholics Anonymous' misinformation, alcohol has no human characteristics; alcohol is not going to "trick" you into drinking it when you choose not to. And, contrary to Alcoholics Anonymous' claim that the only way a "real alcoholic" ever stops using alcohol is by Divine Intervention, that idea offends the sensibilities of every serious belief system founded on the existence of an Omnipotent God. As for Alcoholics Anonymous' "real alcoholic," this term has about as much validity as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.
Next, we must consider there are Alcoholics Anonymous' complete fabrications; are they merely mistakes, outright lies, or maybe a little of both? Consider the quote from the book Alcoholics Anonymous on page 59. It says:
"Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:"
To put this sentence into proper context the word "steps" is referring to the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the pronoun "we" must be referring to the "alcoholic squad" who were, prior to 1939, members of the Oxford Group, a fundamentalist Christian Group founded by a defrocked preacher. But, where is the dishonesty in the phrase "Here are the steps we tookâ€¦" Well, this tale begins in (circa) 1935 when a few members of the Oxford Group attend Oxford Group meetings and ceased using alcohol. It is crucial to understand that the Oxford Group had no steps for ceasing alcohol use, and at that time there was no organization known as "Alcoholics Anonymous." Thus, in 1935 none of the Oxford Group members "did the 12-steps," and in 1936 none of the Oxford Group members "did the 12-steps," then again in 1937 none of the Oxford Group members "did the 12-steps," and again in 1938 none of the Oxford Group members "did the 12-steps," and it is likely that in 1939 none of the Oxford Group members "did the 12-steps." As a matter of historical fact none of those Oxford Group members, that would eventually become the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous, ever did the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous "as a program of recovery" because neither Alcoholics Anonymous nor the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous existed prior to 1939. Thus, claiming "Here are the steps we took â€¦ as a program of recovery" is quite simply not true.
So in 2000 the Baldwin researchers stopped using the book Alcoholics Anonymous as its text for the educational program, and instead authored their own text entitled the Jude Thaddeus Program. With this modest beginning of a totally new program, the researchers still had a long way to go to reach a complete understanding of a solution for drug and alcohol problems. Nearly 20 years of research was spent studying the wrong things. What's more, the data was confusing. Nonetheless, year after year the abstinence rate achieved by the study subjects remained high at about 72% (14 times more successful than Alcoholics Anonymous). In any case, the new text, the Jude Thaddeus Program, did away with the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. But the Jude Thaddeus Program still insisted on the subjects establishing a meaningful relationship with their God and their religious beliefs. For the Baldwin researchers, their Judeo-Christian predisposition obscured the reality that God gave mankind free will to choose to do whatever mankind is motivated to do, including using alcohol or not using alcohol or other drugs. Even though the "God Solution" maintained a prominent role in the Jude Thaddeus Program until 2007, during this time, in 2002 the research underwent a metamorphosis.
As time went on, The Fellowship meetings became nightly, began to feel obligatory and from what started out as positive, upbeat gatherings, the meetings morphed into irrelevant discussions, romantic encounters, and competitive storytelling, with little regard for truth. The founders, i.e. the Baldwin researchers, were conferred as keepers of the word and revered. In this new role the researchers were uncomfortable, less effective as researchers, and reluctant to participate at the meeting for fear of creating further unintended consequences. Moreover, the researchers were fearful of becoming like the old-timers in Alcoholics Anonymous, for whom the researchers had only contempt. Still, the Baldwin researchers, themselves, had created this colossal mess by incorporating the attendance at The Fellowship meetings as an integral component of the Jude Thaddeus Program.
In the Eighth Edition of the Jude Thaddeus Program, released in November 2000, it offers this relationship between the Jude Thaddeus Program and The Fellowship:
"Anyone who wishes to be a member of The Fellowship must go through the first four phases of the Jude Thaddeus Program. This accomplishes two things: first, each and every member has the same solution, and secondly, this negates any chance that the message in the Jude Thaddeus Program will get watered down through time. This enables all future generations of newcomers to get the exact same message as you have today."
After 8+ years of following The Fellowship meetings, the success rate studies remained high through the entire period, averaging 72.875%. So, the Jude Thaddeus Program, including The Fellowship meetings, gave the appearance of being highly effective, but by November 2002, the researchers observed that most program attendees did not attend The Fellowship meetings. In fact over 80% did not participate in The Fellowship upon completion of the Jude Thaddeus Program. Inasmuch as the overwhelming majority did not participate in The Fellowship, the effect of The Fellowship on the success rate was determined to be minimal and perhaps non-existent. Thus, in December 2002, The Fellowship, i.e. ongoing support meetings, was disbanded. During the subsequent two years the success rate remained unchanged. The claim that support meetings are vital to the process of alcohol and drug users remaining alcohol and drug free was false. Moreover, it certainly raised questions as to the effectiveness of support groups being beneficial for any cognitive behavioral problems.