Anybody who has had their past held over them in a condemning way will know how it feels to be powerless. You can’t change your past – you don’t have that kind of ability or power. For you to be condemned by it continually when you are trying to change who you are now is a terrible burden to carry especially when others place it on you. Under a steady barrage of toxic attacks change for the better can become almost an insurmountable task. You are left in a perpetual, broken state; controllable by any unscrupulous person who wishes to manipulate you through guilt! How does this happen?
Some are trained to introduce themselves in certain ‘rehabs’ by saying; “Hi, my name is . . . and I’m a liar, thief, cheat and drug addict/alcoholic”. Other ‘AA like’ groups just say; ” “Hi, my name is . . . and I’m a drug addict/alcoholic”. This may be what you were. This may be what you are. But it is not what you are if you claim to be Christian. The Bible is very clear; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Can this simple greeting/admission lead to more bondage for an addict? If change is possible how can a person maintain that they are what they were and always will be caught up in the problem of addiction. Is there no true recovery?
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) a major 12 Step rehab program believes; ” ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.’ The first step of AA is to admit that you have a problem. Those who are not ready to admit to a problem may not be able to seek the help they need, and they may be more likely to return to drinking. Accepting that a problem exists and facing it may be difficult, but it makes the person aware of it. Admitting it to other people enforces the issue. [emphasis mine]” This seems to make sense – you have to know you have a problem before you can deal with it. However, there is a fine line between admitting you have a problem – a big problem and making this problem who you really are for the rest of your life.
Some believe alcoholism and addiction is a disease, thinking there is no cure but there is recovery. In that sense a person may be ‘an alcoholic/addict’ just like a person with diabetes is a diabetic for life but I don’t know any diabetics who would claim that their disease is who they essentially are. Rather diabetes like addiction is a condition that requires life long discipline in order to be in recovery from it. This takes us to the second step of AA; “‘Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.’ Many programs focus on participants having hope and faith that they will return to a healthy state. These programs may involve God, spirituality and meditation in the healing process. Not all programs focus on religion, however.[emphasis mine]” The gods of AA are not necessarily the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A higher power could be anything or anyone!
Sanity is the kind of thinking that allows an alcoholic or addict to live ‘manageable lives’ free of the insanity of their addiction and the crazy behaviour brought about by it. This sanity is found by a person choosing the right god for them as described in AA’s step 3; “‘Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.’ AA is not strictly a Christian organization. Different groups work with different types of spirituality and religions, and choosing the right one can help participants feel more comfortable and accepted. [emphasis mine]” And here is the crux of the issue. If you turn your will and your life over to just any god you may be giving your life to a false god. There are no shortage of predators eager to have that kind of control over you.
Such a predatory god would always want you in their control – so you would always have to be sick. For a predatory god no one must ever be allowed to be cured, delivered or in true recovery. One alcoholic says this about the typical AA introduction; ” ‘Hi, my name is… and I’m an alcoholic’ is of course the more traditional way of introducing oneself at a meeting. However, I have never been comfortable with this approach. The language of this approach is negative– it reinforces the problem rather than the solution.” Problems keep you in bondage while solutions set you free. Choose your god wisely!
An infamous drug rehab called Synanon used the idea that addiction was a disease that only it could cure to trap many vulnerable addicts; “Once they had moved into the community, though, they would hear over and over, . . . , that drug addiction was a ‘terminal disease’, a symptom of deep character disorder that could be controlled only by Synanon . . . . Addicts who left Synanon, it was insisted , were doomed. If they wished to survive, they had to remain in the community and dedicate their lives to it.” (David U. Gerstel) Charles Dederich, the charismatic leader of Synanon had stepped in to become the god of those who he claimed to serve as he placed them in even greater bondage to his cult. How does this happen?
But the repeated development of cults or near-cults—from Synanon to Straight Inc. to today’s Washington, DC, Midtown Group—based on the steps is not coincidental. The reason is a toxic compound created when AA’s voluntary steps are twisted so that they can be imposed by force, especially in settings where people cannot escape. Chuck Dederich, the founder of Synanon, was the first to recognize the power of this recipe for subjugating people and creating followers. Indeed, Synanon was the model for every “therapeutic community” (TC) in the US, including mainstream leaders like Phoenix House and Daytop. (Maia Szalavitz)
Maia Szalavitz points out that steps 2 and 3 can be used in a terrible manner in toxic rehabs; “This elevation of staff and dehumanization of patients is the opposite of treating people with dignity and respect: the word of the “healers” is law and those in need of healing are powerless. At rehabs, for example, when staff believe that they have all the answers, including which patients are “in denial” or “faking” or lying or, for that matter, telling the truth, there is a great potential for serious health and psychiatric complaints to be ignored. This can have—and has had, in dozens of cases—fatal consequences for those who are physically detained in programs. It also allows power to run amuck.”
Any rehab that promotes the idea of drug addiction as a ‘terminal disease’ that requires an addict to stay in the community and do exactly as he is told by the Leader or the Prophet as some like to be called, is in big trouble. Such rehabs focus on the doctrine of the disease and not the deliverance – the bondage and not the way to freedom.
Any honest preacher will tell you that Jesus is the only higher power that can set you free; “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ ” (John 14:6). Any honest preacher will tell you that in Christ your past is no longer held over your head; “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
Any honest preacher will give you the only food that can nourish your spirit and give you the strength to live free; “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) Any honest preacher will point you to Jesus rather than himself and some twisted version of Scripture or of AA’s Big Book!
True recovery for an addict is not found in the words of any false prophet (or wolf parading as a preacher) that claims long term servitude to their group is God’s will! True recovery for an addict is the Holy Spirit’s work; “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1,2)