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Opinion & Essays - Oct, 1993 Issue 


I have about worn out a 1992 Directory that was passed on to me and I find your newsletters to be a great source of good reading and sharing of thoughts in working with youth.
- Shirley Morelli, Straight Arrow Camp, Washington.
(The following is in response to the article written by Tom Croke entitled "12 Step/Whole Child Programs" (Woodbury Reports, Issue #23, August, 1993)

In response to your article, "12-Step/Whole Child Programs," in your Aug. 1993 issue, I'd like to say...

Counselors and Program Managers, Be Wary.

When offering 12-Step programs, be sure to make it optional to your students (clients). Allow those who do not like the 12-Step approach to choose something else--for instance, another method for achieving spirituality such as religion or another method of social interaction such as group therapy.

In other words, do not make the 12-Step model mandatory.

Reason #1: The 12-Step model has a low success rate. A.A.'s own triennial survey of its membership shows an 11% success rate after two years.

Reason #2: Analysis of A.A.'s membership shows that it's comprised primarily of middle-aged, white males. It does not attract many teenagers, blacks, females, or older adults. There are numerous reasons for this written in different books and articles (see for instance the book, Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?, by Charles Bufe).

Reason #3: The 12-Step model can be dangerous for young adults. Seven of the 12 Steps have us making a moral correction in our lives. These are, briefly: making a moral inventory, admitting our wrongs, asking God to remove our wrongs, and our shortcomings, making a list of persons we had harmed, making amends to these people, and admitting on a continuing basis whenever we have done wrong. These steps can be severe on teens who tend to feel too much guilt as it is. Indeed, at least one teenage suicide that occurred in Minneapolis has been directly related to the 12-Steps. The teen, who had been in A.A. and sober for two months, left a note listing his defects of character and the persons he had harmed. It apparently had overwhelmed him. Of course, suicide has been well-documented as a cause of death among active alcoholics and drug abusers but it is also a risk-factor in recovery, particularly in early recovery when depression can be severe and persistent.

If you can print this, thanks. I feel that this information is crucial to anyone concerned about successful programming for Whole Child Programs.

-Jerry Dorsman, Elk Mills, Maryland, 410-392-9685.

(Jerry is the author of the book, How to Quit Drinking Without A.A., which describes a whole person approach to recovery).

Copyright 1993, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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