Alcoholism, Addiction and the Problem of Denial

Everyone’s aware of the “Have you stopped beating your wife” trick question. Answering either “yes” or “no” damns the respondent. Similarly, the 12-step doctrine of denial supports a “Heads I win, tails you lose” trick question:

Question: “Are you alcoholic?”

Answer: “No.”

Response: “You’re in denial. That proves that you’re alcoholic!”

The concept of denial is used to help convince alcoholics that they have a disease and are in need of whatever 12-step help or “treatment” the questioner wants to promote.

Are 12-Step Programs Effective for Addiction Treatment?

However, AA and other 12-step supporters suffer from a real and very serious denial themselves. They consistently deny the overwhelming evidence that 12-step programs are rarely effective for anyone.

Scientific research by the U.S. government and many others has found that about 4-18% of alcoholics become sober without attending any alcohol rehab programs or receiving any treatment.

The five percent success rate reported by AA itself is generally lower than that of people with no exposure to programs or treatments.  AA and other 12-step programs seem to be counterproductive — worse than doing nothing.

Twelve-step programs promoters also deny the strong evidence that:

*addiction is not a disease,

*religion or spirituality is not necessary to achieve lasting sobriety,

*people are not powerless over their addictions, and

*having one drink will not lead to an inevitable loss of control and relapse (“You’re only one drink away from a drunk.”).

The real problem of denial is that of 12-step supporters. Their denial of the facts deprives people the help they need to achieve life-long sobriety.

What Is the St. Jude Program?

Based on scientific research evidence, the St. Jude Program teaches that addiction is not a disease, that religion or spirituality is not necessary to achieve life-long sobriety, that people are actually powerful and in control of their behaviors, and that having one drink does not inevitably lead to loss of control and relapse.

If people are confused about conflicting claims, they should remember the old saying that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” The fact is that the St. Jude Program has a documented success rate of 62%. That statistic is periodically calculated and certified by independent research organizations after contacting those who have left the St. Jude program as long as 20 years ago.


Melissa is the Online Public Relations Coordinator, for Saint Jude Retreats ( She wants to make people aware that if you are currently using drugs and alcohol you can decide to stop with your own free-will. She educates others that substance abuse is a choice not a disease.

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