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Addiction: Is it Really a Disease as Believed by 12-step Drug Rehabilitation Programs?

Despite the fact that 12-step drug rehabilitation programs have extremely low success rates, many addicts and alcoholics flock to this modality of drug treatment. Why? The reasons are simple. Many 12-step drug rehabilitation programs receive state funding, and consequently, the required meetings are free. But is it a true concept that drug addiction is a disease, a concept that 12-step drug rehabilitation programs are based upon? Most importantly, does this belief actually aid the addict in overcoming addiction?

These 12-step drug rehabilitation programs spread the word that there is “No known Cure,” and, in actuality, this belief contributes to the high relapse rates among members. Here’s why. If an addict believes that he suffers from a disease that is incurable, his belief system is already preset for failure. This belief sets up the revolving door of recovery and relapse that plagues 12-step drug rehabilitation programs.

In 2003, the Baldwin Research Institute published an article on its website titled Alcoholism: A Disease of Speculation that asserts the idea that addiction is NOT a disease. The article states: “The disease concept has proven to be far more damaging to the substance abuser then anyone could have predicted. Therapists claim the disease concept helps the patient to understand the seriousness of [his/her] problems. But in reality, this idea has backfired. The disease concept strips the substance abuser of responsibility. A disease cannot be cured by force of will.” And yet, this is exactly what 12-step drug rehabilitation programs expect of their members.

Not only does the addict believe that he must abstain from drugs by sheer force of will, but he also believes that his addiction is a “disease,” an ailment outside of his control. With such beliefs that contradict each other, it’s no wonder so many addicts relapse under this form of drug rehabilitation. Because of the faulty foundation, 12-step drug rehabilitation programs offer no real solution for the addict seeking control over his life.

Drug rehabilitation should provide a foundation where the addict believes he can overcome his addiction, where he believes that he can be helped. He needs to know that his will and his power are enough to be free of drug addiction.

Drug Rehabilitation programs that offer a true solution to drug addiction do exist. By stripping away the belief that addiction is a disease, these drug rehabilitation programs can return the addict to a healthy state. There is no incurable disease to combat. Not surprisingly, these alternative drug rehabilitation programs have a much higher success rate than the standard 12-Step drug rehabilitation program.

Note:  The complete study by the Baldwin Research Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction as well as other related articles can be found at

About the author:
Kerry Johnson lives in the Bay area and is currently studying addiction and related issues. She has found in her research that the model of treatment offered at offers a complete solution to drug rehabilitation.