Many clinicians who work in the addiction field must learn to offer far more than the dangerous cult religion known as the 12 steps. If a client finds the steps helpful of course, a good clinician will not discourage their choice. However, the opposite is not practiced with the majority of addiction specialists. Many who see clients with addiction disorders send clients to the 12 step cult. In fact, that is virtually all they have to offer and insist, just as this cult instructs, that without AA, the client will end up in three and ONLY three places: Jail, an Institution or Dead. No matter how AA disciples balk at this, their literature clearly states in many manipulative ways and places, that the 12 steps are the one and only way, you have a “disease” that can never be cured but only have a “daily reprieve spiritual awakening” and you are “in denial” if you chose any alternative form of help.
However, statistics clearly show this to be not only false but severely damaging to members who trade one dependence for another — the program.
Dr. Lessin has been working with this population for almost 40 years and has now had what he calls an “Ah ha” moment, when he realized how the US “drug war” has failed people miserably and a wider public health perspective is necessary. Why? The politics of the “drug war” the 12 step cult and it’s “all-or-nothing” dogma has damaged more than helped. He studied the statistics to discover that about half of the people who are diagnosed, or could be diagnosed, in reality “mature out” of this behavior. He learned that not only is abstinence not the only choice but it is often times not the best choice, especially for teens.
As you will see in the article I provide here (with permission from Dr. Lessin), he found himself astounded to learn that by age 30, most people have experienced a maturation that allows them to outgrow drug problems and the risky behavior that leads them down this path. He found himself unable to continue providing the “disease model” as it is an outright clinician error. He also found the psychiatric disorder known as addiction to have the highest odds of recovery, than any other disorder. Oh really?!
Is this what we have been led to believe culturally and medically? Absolutely not. Hell no. Not with the dangerous cult religion and the billion dollar “rehab” industry as merely a front for this cult. No way.
Dr. Lessin now clearly sees the limitations of the “disease model” and has incorporated evidence-based help in his practice. He sees this disorder as maladaptive learning, which therefore, can be unlearned and replaced with healthier choices. If you can learn a coping mechanism, you can learn a different one when the one you are practicing is not working. Not only is abstinence not the only choice, it is not the choice of most people who can and do successfully moderate their behavior.. Dr. Lessin is now providing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing for his clients. He no longer sees everyone who presents with a problem as potentially “diseased” and their only choice is complete cessation of substance use. He is no longer labeling the family as “diseased” and is helping the entire family learn to adapt and grow together, rather than shipping someone to a 12 step rehab that only allows the client to chase his own tail for the rest of his life.
He admits now that the “disease theory” is a label that is particularly damaging to teens and that is indisputable.
I can expand that and say unequivocally that labeling anyone, no matter their age, as an “alcoholic” or “addict” causes extreme cognitive dissonance. This negative labeling has proven to be the cause of depression, anxiety, suicide, bingeing on drugs, vulnerability to crimes of violence and financial scams, and keeps people tied to a cult religion rather than provide them tools to make better choices and move on with their lives. However, moving on with their lives is precisely what most people do, in spite of this cult dogma. Sadly and chronically, for those unfortunate enough to become indoctrinated by this cult of subterfuge, the road out is a long, fear-filled, bumpy journey. This cult religion causes people to fear their own ability to think and the deprogramming that must happen before steppers can truly move on, is extensive.
Dr. Lessin is now empowering clients and their families for the best chance at a full recovery, or in clinical terms a Full Sustained Remission. In any 12 step group, a full sustained remission is completely impossible. Any clinician who provides nothing but the 12 step cult religion is in serious danger of a malpractice claim and a license revocation.
Consider yourselfs warned clinicians. I thank Dr. Lessin for his bravery and honesty. He does not mention the 12 step cult in the article recently published in rehabs dot com and that is a smart move. If he had, as I do here, he most certainly would have been attacked and threatened by steppers. They are taught their program is perfect and if you fail to achieve this perfect “spiritual” sobriety, it is your fault because you are not doing it right, enough or are not being honest. Therefore, anyone who exposes the truth is a sworn enemy and must be destroyed.
No. I completely reject that notion. What Dr. Lessin has done with this article is highly brave and I admire him very much. Now you can too.
— Laura Tompkins