Criticism Of The Twelve-Step Program

Knoxville, TN (PressExposure) July 22, 2009 -- There have been many kinds of adult and adolescent addiction treatment used across the world. Many have been developed, yet only a few remains until today. However,has received a number of criticisms from professionals regarding its effectiveness in treating addiction. This is the Twelve-Step or 12-Step Program. The criticisms of twelve-step groups are as varied as the pathologies they address. People have attended twelve-step meetings, only to find success eluded them. Their varied success rate and the belief in a Higher Power suggested in them, are common criticisms of their universal applicability and efficacy. there is one treatment currently used today which

History of the Twelve-Step Program

The Twelve-Step Program was first conceived by the Alcoholics Anonymous as a method to treat alcoholism. As AA was growing in the 1930s and 1940s, definite guiding principles began to emerge as the Twelve Traditions. A singleness of purpose emerged as Tradition Five: "Each group has but one primary purpose -- to carry its message to the alcoholics who still suffer." Consequently, drug addicts who do not suffer from the specifics of alcoholism involved in AA hoping for recovery technically are not welcome in "closed" meetings unless they have a desire to stop drinking alcohol.

The reason for such emphasis on alcoholism as the problem is to overcome denial and distraction. Thus the principles of AA have been used to form many numbers of other fellowships for those recovering from various pathologies, each of which in turn emphasizes recovery from the specific malady which brought the sufferer into the fellowship. Today, several organisations, or Twelve-Step organizations as they call themselves, have emerged from the program such as Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous and Debtors Anonymous and use it as their main method for adult and adolescent addiction treatment.


There are two main criticisms that professionals are pointing out with the Twelve-Step Program adult and adolescent addiction treatment, its confidentiality and its cultural identity.


The Twelve Traditions encourage members to practice the spiritual principle of anonymity in the public media and members are also asked to respect each other's confidentiality. However, the programs rely on 'obedience to the unenforceable' and there are no legal consequences or sanctions within the program to discourage those attending twelve-step groups from revealing information disclosed during meetings.

Statutes on group therapy do not encompass those associations that lack a professional therapist or clergyman to whom confidentiality and privilege might apply. Physicians who refer patients to these groups, to avoid both civil liability and licensure problems, have been advised that they should alert their patients that, at any time, their statements made in working through the Twelve Steps might be disclosed.

Cultural Identity

One review of twelve-step programs warned of detrimental iatrogenic effects of twelve-step philosophy, and labeled the organizations as cults. However, a further study concluded that these programs bore little semblance to religious cults because the techniques used appeared beneficial. A survey of twelve-step group members, however, found they had a bicultural identity and saw twelve-step programs as a complement to their other national, ethnic, and religious cultures.

About Donna Sparks

Donna Sparks is a Professor and a Consultant Physician. Other than her clinical and local teaching commitments, she also continues to enjoy the privileges of research, writing and lecturing.

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Press Release Submitted On: July 21, 2009 at 10:53 pm
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