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Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure

A 2005 article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry raise the
question of whether Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offers a real and permanent change
in alcohol consumption and craving, or is merely a substitute of one habit for
another.

Researcher George E. Vaillant raises the issue of whether AA is, in a sense, a cult
with all that is implied by that title. In part, he writes: “If I am to suggest that a
programme (sic) based upon dependence on a “Higher Power” is more like penicillin
than it is like he Moonies’ Unification Church, I must respect the rules of
experimental medicine; I must first elucidate the mechanism of action of AA; I must
next offer empirical evidence that AA works better than a placebo; and finally, I
must seriously discuss the side-effects of AA.”

Vaillant concludes that “the skepticism of some professionals regarding AA as a first


rank treatment fo alcoholism would appear to be unwarranted.” Although Vaillant
quotes many sources, he fails to use statistics provided by AA itself, which shows
that of those who begin a program with AA, only 5% will still be active after one
year.

In contrast, there is the Baldwin Research Institute, an Amsterdam, NY based 501(c)


(3) organization established in 1992. It was organized as a direct outgrowth of
research conducted by Messrs. Gerald Brown and Mark Scheeren, into the
effectiveness of existing drug and alcohol treatment protocols. The high relapse
rates, ineffective program models and poor sobriety results observed through their
own experience led them to build an entirely new protocol. For almost 20 years,
that protocol has been shaped, revised, and honed into what is now the Jude
Thaddeus Program ™. The practical application of the protocol has provided real
and lasting help to more than 3,000 persons over the course of 17 years.

Baldwin Research Institute operates three retreat houses in Upstate NY – the St.
Judes Retreat House, where it can accommodate up to 53 individuals at a time,
for its 6-week residency program. Program guests come to us from every state, as
well as internationally. We have developed and utilize proprietary educational
materials, and have completed numerous studies to support our practices.
Independent research has demonstrated our long-term success rate
(measured by abstinence) at 63%; study results of effectiveness by other
organizations are virtually non-existent.

The crux of the program, and its success, lies in the understanding that individual
choice is the predominate factor in determining sobriety. As such, they do not
provide medical or psychiatric treatment, as research leads one to understand that
“addictions” are at their root behavioral and cognitive issues, not medical. If
required, guests undergo medically supervised detoxification before attending the
program. Utilizing ongoing research into developments such as Neuroplasticity, the
program is educational and social in scope. Classroom instruction, self study, and
experiential learning are mixed with social interaction among guests of all ages and
backgrounds. Alumnae report vast improvements in their personal and professional
lives, as well as their social and interpersonal skills.