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Does Successful Addiction Help Require Belief in Oneself?

A treatment facility recently published an article about why alcoholics don’t want to do alcohol rehab – specifically the 12-step program. According to the article, the 12-step program makes the addict feel that getting addiction help won’t do them any good – that they are doomed to failure. Do they have a point?

Although there are many good things about 12-step program, there are two elements of the program that could stop a person from getting better and make them feel like they’re going to fail.

1. The belief that relapse is part of recovery. As the article states, this makes a person feel that they are going to relapse – which, if you started the program to quit drinking, is, basically, a failure. It’s true that many people do relapse in certain programs – and that’s obviously true of the 12-step program or it wouldn’t be considered normal for them – but in a long-term residential alcohol or drug rehab the chances of relapsing are far less. In other programs, the person does not expect to relapse and, really, has no excuse.

I’m not sure what the point of ‘relapse is part of recovery’ is. It could be that so many people have relapsed on the program, and that those who run the program have been unsuccessful in changing the relapse rate, that someone finally decided that it must just be normal.

They might also say it so that a person who does relapse thinks that, in fact, he hasn’t failed. So, he still has hope that if he continues with the program he will one day no longer relapse.

2. The second element that might make someone feel they are doomed to failure is the idea that ‘once an addict, always an addict.’ Really, who would want to enter a treatment program that believes they will never actually get better?

Personally, I feel that belief in your ability to change yourself and the world around you is key to improving any aspect of your life. Whether you’re trying to improve a medical condition like cancer, trying to get a better job, trying to improve your relationships or make a marriage work, accomplish something that really means a lot to you, successfully follow your bliss, or overcome addiction – it all starts with believing it can be done.

And believing you can do it.

That said, 12-step programs do help a lot of people and there are aspects of it that are very valuable. Making up the damage done in the past, for example, is invaluable to restoring a person’s self-esteem and repairing relationships is vital, and a brilliant way to bring the person into a new life.

I’d like to know what other people think. Any comments?

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