Is “Celebrate Recovery” A Good Alternative to 12-Step Programs?

The Celebrate Recovery versus Alcoholics Anonymous discussion

When I originally wrote about Celebrate recovery, almost two years ago it was enjoyed by some, but not a “popular” article. What has blown my mind is the comment section. It has taken on a life of its own.  So it only made sense, to pull it out, brush it off and update it.

12-Step Group Background

Two common support groups for alcoholics in recovery include Celebrate Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous. These groups both offer amazing support but differ in their basis and principles.

Celebrate recovery is a fellowship based on biblical curriculum. Like other support groups for Alcoholics, including Alcoholic Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery uses the 12 Steps for Recovery, which are revised to follow its religious-based curriculum. For example, one of the steps used in the 12-Step Process encourages those in recovery to rely on a “higher power”.

Alcoholics Anonymous is the fellowship that created the original 12-step model. While the stance of AA supports a general understanding of a “higher power”, Celebrate Recovery holds that Jesus Christ is the only true path to God. In addition to the 12 Steps, Celebrate Recovery also uses 8 Principles that are based on the beatitudes.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

My Experience

Over the last decade or so, I have occasionally heard people talk about “Celebrate Recovery” but I never gave it much thought or attention. I knew it had something to do with church. I knew that it was a way to get help for addiction type problems and I knew it was a little similar to AA. Recently, I have educated myself about Celebrate Recovery and I will share with you what I know. The information I present is “in my opinion”. I will start with some bullet points.

  • John Baker, is the Founder and Pastor of Celebrate Recovery.
  • It was started in 1990 (according to Wikipedia) or in 2001 according to John. (see side note)
  • It is a Christ-centered program that started out of Saddleback Church.
  • Over 10,500 individuals have gone through the program.
  • Over 6,000 individuals have completed the program.
  • It is used at over 10,000 churches nationwide.
  • It is translated into 19 different languages.

Side note: I got confused on the dates because on Wikipedia, it says Celebrate Recovery was founded in 1990 by John Baker and Rick Warren. When I look up his book on Amazon, it shows a published date of 2007. However, there is another book published by the same name in 2013, with the authorship credited to Rick Warren AND John Baker.

I learned about Celebrate Recovery from a training video that John Baker presented. In his video, he shares that he started working at Saddleback Church in 1991. In 2001, Rick Warren (Saddleback’s Head Pastor) felt there was a need for John to focus his attention, solely on a recovery ministry. He dedicated himself to the Celebrate Recovery program and wrote the curriculum and accompanying book called “Life’s Healing Choices”. The tag line he uses is “we all need recovery from life’s hurts, hangups and habits”. He introduces himself as “Hi I’m John, a Believer who struggles with alcohol”.

We have to stop here and talk a little about AA. We can’t ignore it. It (seams to me) glaringly obvious that Celebrate Recovery borrows heavily from the original 12-step model. Let’s face it, AA is the gold standard for recovery treatment. Most all treatment centers use the AA 12-step principles. Almost all judges and courts refer alcoholics and addicts to AA and nearly every celebrity with a drug or alcohol problem ends up in AA. It’s not too anonymous anymore.

faith-based-addiction
Even without a religious background, faith-based Drug Rehab programs can help.

Even if you don’t have a religious upbringing, a faith-based program can increase your long-term goal of a drug-free life

Ok, back to John. He talks about the history of AA and sites an article from Christianity Today that was published in 1991. He talks about the millions of people who have gone to AA and found success. However, he feels that it is a secular program and many Christ followers have a hard time connecting to some of the non-religious aspects of the AA fellowship. The problem he has with the AA steps is the reference to “God as you understand him”. Christ followers find this too non-specific and feel the term is too “new age”. (yes, I know the AA book was written in 1939, I am just sharing what I learned in the video). AA talks about alcoholism as a disease. Celebrate Recovery feels that it is a moral problem. Bill W. (one of the founders of AA) describes having a profound spiritual experience, that launched his sobriety. Celebrate Recovery feels that Bill W. wasn’t much a religious man. They feel that the principles in the AA book were taken from a doctor named William Silkworth and an Episcopalian Pastor named Sam Shoemaker. AA describes alcoholism as a mental, physical and spiritual disease. Celebrate Recovery feels that the disease concept removes any moral responsibility for the problem. They refer to alcoholism as a sin addiction. It develops from a person making poor choices.

I support all recovery programs that help people achieve sobriety.

Celebrate Recovery takes AA’s original 12 steps and reuses them as “their own”. They copy them exactly out of AA’s big book, except when it says “God, as you understand him”. They stop at the word God and leave out the “as you understand him” part. They justify this by saying that AA has made a fortune from selling their “Big Book” and that most of the material contained within, is taken from other sources. After each step, Celebrate Recovery takes a passage from the bible to connect the step to “The Bible”. They do this because they have a problem with AA members quoting passages out of the AA Big Book like it was a bible. They also don’t appreciate the chapter in the AA book called “We Agnostics”.

I am going to discuss two other major differences, and end with that. First, Celebrate Recovery typically meets only once a week. It is normally a social event. There is mingling before and after the meeting. Members seem to have a lot of fun attending the event and look forward to going. On the other hand, AA meetings are held almost every day, in every city, around the world. They do not require a social component. The meeting types are varied. Second, Celebrate Recovery tends to mix addicts, overeaters alcoholics and “fill in the blank”. AA tends to keep to a “singleness of purpose”, focusing on alcohol. If you have another problem, chances are there is a meeting for you.

The bottom line – if you suffer from alcoholism and have found a way to live a happy and sober life, then whatever you are doing works for you. That is a good thing.

60 thoughts on “Is “Celebrate Recovery” A Good Alternative to 12-Step Programs?

    1. Although there are Christians in AA I can see that Christians would balk at the God as you understand him concept. But I would balk at a concept of alcoholism as a moral failing connected with sin. Each to their own AA is the biggest recovery group in the world its success speaks for itself.

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      1. I think the concept of both religion and alcoholism are opening up. With so much information available to us. It’s much easier to learn the beauty of Christianity, as well as the disease concept of addiction. The good news is that there are so many paths to healing. I am grateful not to have born 100 years ago. I would be in a sanatarium.

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  1. Victoria, I am a Christian in recovery and have considered going to a Celebrate Recovery meeting several times. After reading your post and doing some research on my own, I am now not considering attending CR meetings. I believe in the disease model of alcoholism and addiction and do not think it is a “moral” issue. I’ve been blogging for nearly two years, and have done a ton of research on addiction, especially relative to opioids (OxyContin, Oxycodone, Vicodin, and heroin). I have come to understand brain chemistry, dopamine, neurotransmitters, receptors, and the fact that addiction literally rewires our brains. Oxycodone is 20 to 30 times more potent than dopamine. Big pharma and lots and lots of doctors have set America on a terrible path. We see at least one drug commercial during every break every day we watch TV. We’re programmed to think “give me a pill.” There is a pain management doctor in my home town who is known for being liberal with narcotic pain medication. A friend of mine went there, and he was given 100 Oxycodone pills! Addiction and alcoholism is NOT a moral issue.

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  2. I was completely celibate for 10 years or so, not because of faith, but because I isolated myself in my own small world. For example, among my ‘rules’ is rule #2 nobody is allowed into the garret… (‘the garret’ is my name for the loft apartment which is my home). I now believe that my alcohol abuse and my need for isolation are both symptoms of a deeper illness; Borderline Personality Disorder / Fear of Abandonment. Celibacy and Faith may both be good for the alcoholic, but not at the risk of total isolation.

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  3. When I was trying to recover from alcoholism I attended both Celebrate Recovery and AA. I was attracted to CR because I am a Christian and the AA groups I attended were geared more towards the non-Christian crowd. Even though I had not been abusing alcohol for very long and was considered having reached a “high bottom”, CR did not provide the support I needed to recover. CR was much smaller than the AA groups I attended and the number of long term alcoholics was extremely slim. So where AA encourages everyone to share their experiences and hope, CR just was not able to provide that because only one woman had been sober for longer than a year. The sheer number of AA meetings is so needed especially in the beginning of recovery when it is so difficult to break the abusive cycles we got ourselves into. The mentorship that is offered in AA can not be beat either. The ladies dedication and commitment to helping others is outstanding.

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  4. Celebrate recovery and AA are programs for the common person. I believe that the addiction community, whatever their condition, can surely benefit from having these conversations. “Once an addict, Always an addict”, “only an addict can heal an addict, or prayer will heal an addict are all unproductive myths that need to be dispelled.

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  5. I have been in both programs; the AA model administrated through my church 20 years ago and most recently, the Celebrate Recovery Model, in my current church home; which cannot compare to my first experience with recovery. My issue is not substance abuse (if you don’t count chocolate as a ‘SUBSTANCE’), but severe codependency, rejection, anger, rage, hatred, etc, to which I was “addicted”. It is not substance abuse, but is still an addition. My issue was not knowing the difference between ME and someone else. I had no self definition and no BOUNDARIES. I have been frustrated with the CR model somewhat because the program I was in before was very nurturing and was led by a licensed MFCC pastor with vast knowledge of the human psyche along with a degree in psychology. Even though we used the AA recovery model, it was excellent due to the personal care we received from the additional adventures into life though the Saturday seminars. During these seminars, (4 hours a week), we learned much about communication styles, posturing when speaking to one another (like eye contact) and many other life skills I did not have. We learned how “rejection” affects us as humans with plenty of scripture to back-up how Jesus experienced rejection and his response to it. This gave me courage to want to change. We were also given assignments to watch videos by Drs Cloud and Townsend for 8 weeks, to learn more about BOUNDARIES and how they work, which were immensely helpful. Boundaries are the key issues in my addiction. We also received personal counseling by the leader. In some ways, it is not fair to compare this program with any other. Addiction to self hate and rejection are not substance abuse issues; but are still addictions. I needed tools and found CR to be somewhat limited. The gold standard for me has always been Melody Beattie’s books on Co-Dependency, addictions and her devotionals. I enjoy her rich commentary from vast experience in the subject as she has walked the walk and has vast wisdom on this subject. She uncovers the small steps, minute by minute, day by day “rubber meets the road” work that is encountered every day and not covered in any CR program in my experience. These programs are not one size fits all, but I have come to understand that everyone has to fight their own battle with their addiction, no matter what it’s name. Everyone’s needs are different and I am glad there are several programs out there from which to choose from.

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    1. Susan, Thanks for sharing your rich insight and vast experience. Wow. I have heard nothing but good things about Melody Beattie’s book. It seems to be the gold standard. Your first experience in Celebrate Recovery sounds amazing. I am blown away — 4 hours a week of workshops. That is so valuable and like you said, a much different format than a traditional 12-step group. I admit that I have very little experience with the Celebrate Recovery program. However, I did spend a few decades in Orange County and have attending the Saddleback Church about 15 times. It is very welcoming to all. I appreciate that you stopped by. Thanks again.

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    2. What at a great post! Codependency has the potential to be as deadly as Alcoholism. I, too, am a recovering codependent. Melodie Beatty’s books as well as AA’s Big Book are road maps to find a relationship with God.

      Whatever works for someone is right for them. But the kicker is the Addict needs to face what they’ve spent their entire life not facing. The work is hard. Sponsorship is vital. Healing cannot happen without vigorous Honesty. The challenge I’ve seen with CR is coming in with that vigorous honesty. It’s become my life’s mission to speak with others and promote transparency.

      I could write on and on. Thanks for this post AND reply!

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  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece, all the replies and differing points of view. I have no experience of the CR programme but am always keen to hear about anything that works to support recovery. I’m pro-AA because it continues to work well for me though I’m not a ‘fundamentalist’ and accept that it’s by no means the the only route to recovery.

    The more debate and discussion we have around the subject of alcoholism and recovery the better and reading what does and doesn’t work for others is priceless. Isn’t it great that we’re not limited to one option when it comes to recovery programmes?

    The concept of God seems to me to be the most hotly debated element of the AA programme and I believe that the ‘as we understand him’ statement is essential. There are people who benefit hugely from AA but simply do not believe in a traditional, religious faith-based version of God. These folk might well be put off were there not the freedom to interpret and decide how ‘God’ does or doesn’t fit into their individual recovery. I think a belief in ‘God’ can help our journey but should be neither dismissed nor billed as a tenet of recovery. It’s an individual thing and rightly so.

    Were we each to list the factors that contribute to our recovery, I imagine the list would include a variety of ‘wins’ – some taken from mutual support groups, others from personal faith (or lack thereof) and many from our own experience – literally the ‘gems’ we’ve found along the way which might not feature in any formal recovery programme.

    For me, an inflexible and prescriptive approach would have eventually run of steam for the simple reason that this is a journey not a static state of affairs. Whatever ‘s in the mix, if it’s working for you then stick with and celebrate it.

    Wishing all my friends in recovery a happy, healthy day.

    Billie x

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  7. Each time someone who represent yet another recovery program mention’s that AA made a whole bunch of money on the sales of their book I want to say “Where were you for the last half a century and how many people did your path or recovery heal?” AA was the only way of coming back to good life for the people who were considered failures for decades.

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    1. What drives me completely crazy are the people who get RICH writing books about how AA has made a bunch of money. Another theme is selling books about how AA doesn’t work. Have you heard of this lady Gabrielle G? She is quite a fraud.

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      1. They do indeed have Founders’ Day annually. (It’s actually a weekend, and it draws 50,000 people or so.) They also have a small museum and several locations available that were crucial to early AA history. Dr. Bob’s Home and the adjoining museum are open year-round from Noon to 3 p.m.

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  8. basically it looks the same as 12 step. some people object to 12 step as being too religious. also i don’t know of the 12 sstep books making money for anyone

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  9. l’m not shy about my problem with “organized religion.” It’s not anyone’s beliefs or practices that bother me, it’s that “organized’ part where the human beings come in. Then the control problems interfere and I have questions about money as well.

    What I think I need to do here is make a clear statement that religion is not spirituality. Neither needs the other to exist. Also, I found “faith” without the trappings of religion. I have a religion (not the least bit traditional) today, but I keep it out of the way of my spirituality and my faith. Those come first.

    I would never have recovered if I had to pretend to adopt someone’s else’s beliefs. Actually adopting them is beyond my conception, especially if we’re discussing fundamentalist anything (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, you name it). The fact that the 12 Steps never require that saved my life. (In keeping with the 12 Traditions, I won’t name a fellowship. Besides, I use more than one.)

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  10. Interesting post and reader comments on CR.
    Several years ago I participated in CR for about a year. It was a new program to at my church and I was eager to surround myself with others wanting to grow. There were a wide range of “issues” coming to the table: addiction, anxiety, co-dependence etc. I can’t compare to AA as alcoholism is not what I struggle with, but why I ended up leaving the program is it seemed like every week was the same result, no growth or accountability. It seemed like it was just a place to go on Friday night so people wouldn’t ‘slip’.
    I was comparing to therapy where I could talk very deeply about my issues, so I got frustrated with the superficial feel of large group meetings.
    I think the theory behind it is sound -as you say, very similar to such a successful program as AA – but too diverse of issues to focus, and too long between meetings to really connect.
    As you said though, different programs and ideas work for different people.

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  11. Lots of interesting comments here.

    As an aethist, the mere mention of ‘God as you see him’ at AA made me run for the hills: I thought I was sitting round a table full of brainwashed moonies!

    Clearly it works for most and you are free to do as you please.

    We are lucky enough to have an organisation called Addaction where I live which offers alternatives to 12 steps.

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  12. I stumbled onto this article while assessing how to help those suffering from drug addiction and those who love them. The problem seems to be growing and yet I’ve been blessed with a lot of help for which I am very grateful.
    I am a long time member of a 12 step program called Alanon. Less well known than AA it is for those who love alcoholics. As I read the comments, it could be of help to many and is nearly as prevalent as AA. It is Googleable.
    Thanks for offering some comparison between AA and Celebrate Recovery. That was helpful. Are there any studies of success rates? Sounds like the 12 step programs have the edge here.

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    1. I have been attending meetings of two 12-Step fellowships for quite some time now. None of them is exclusive I need each of mine in somewhat different ways and levels. I recommending using all the fellowships a person needs.

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  13. Hey Victoria,
    I volunteered at Celebrate Recovery for a year and a half and think it can be a great part of an individual’s recovery.
    They have programs for drugs, alcohol, good, sex, etc… The hurts, habits, and hang ups seem to really work for folks. The Christian concept makes those folks who are true believers more comfortable with having a fault. They do celebrate recovery and it takes a little heat of the stigma when folks are celebrated and supported.
    The time I was in class was structured also. Reminiscing was met with strong reprimands. We focused on how we were feeling about our week and how it was, is, or could effect our recovery.
    Thanks for the article.

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    1. Wow, thanks for sharing your insightful perspective. I am curious about the reminiscing – reprimand part of the program. It has been a long process for me to heal over some of the hurt I caused others. Is reminiscing the same “romancing the drinking fun” that is discouraged?

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  14. Different approaches to recovery work for different people. One of my friends lead a CR program for years and was a big supporter (still is) because of it’s Christ focus. I think addiction presents a difficult problem for many people because they do not understand how drugs and alcohol change the structure and function of the brain and hence produce changes in the mind. In my opinion, addiction is a bio-psyho-social-spiritual disease. Addiction affects every dimension of a persons being. Atheists deny the spiritual dimension and too many people of religion deny the biological dimension. In reality almost all chronic illnesses are bio-psycho-social-spiritual disorders because they affect the whole person. Take people with cancer or diabetes, their bodies (bio) are obviously affected, their minds (psycho) are affected (depression, anxiety, existential angst, worry, anger, etc), their families, friends and jobs are affected (social), and their spirit is affected (drawing closer or farther from God). CR is considered a 12-step program. In general it follows the AA and NA model.

    By the way, with regards to chrysalaneous’ comment on reminiscing being met wit reprimand, this is probably because looking back at your faults is un-Biblical: Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62. True, if you forget the past you are doomed to repeat it but if you open too much time looking back you will never be able to go forward. As it has been said: stop looking back, you are not going that way. This is part of moving away from the “blame and shame” approach to addiction treatment. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. We are all sinners. We are made new creatures in Christ. Our new self still lives in our old sin loving body, so our flesh ever struggles with our spirit. We are called to fight the good fight and strive forwards our eyes fixed on the prize not on our miserable past. For addicts and non-addicts alike, life is a struggle. We are all exposed to the refiners fire. (I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering. Isiah 48:10 NLT) The process is called sanctification.

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    1. Thanks for your insightful comments. It’s sounds like you are a student of the Bible. Me …. not so much. The Isiah passage “I have refined you, but not as silver is refined …… ” Is beautiful. What a nice way to start the day.

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      1. Dear Victoria B.,
        You might want to consider reading the Bible as part of your recovery. I have not read the Celebrate Recovery edition of the Bible but it might be helpful. I have bought one, just haven’t had time to read it yet. Anyway, there are many beautiful passages in the Good Book. The entire Bible is a story of redemption. Old and New testaments point all point to Jesus and the restoration He offers: “I come to make all things new.” or more precisely from Revelation 28: And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”

        The lesson is: hang in there! You will be made new if you have the courage to see the battle through.

        Don

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  15. Victoria B.
    Thank you for this. I had never heard of Celebrate Recovery. It sounds as though, they have a point, for Christian alcoholics and addicts. I live, or I should say have relocated to Saint Paul, MN. I was referred to Hazelden in Center City, MN
    The prescription after inpatient treatment was to stay. There is a thriving and solid AA community here. AA’s approach, in my opinion, is/has made the spiritual solution palatable for a greater number, of those suffering from alcoholism and addiction than CR ever will. I am Christian, but for me, church, is church and AA, is AA, if you know what I mean. I truly believe that AA, as it was developed was divinely inspired.

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  16. My opinion:
    CR is strong on scripture, the Bible, church, “leadership training”, etc.
    CR is weak on true expertise and understanding of the psychology of addicts and clinical techniques for dealing with addiction, particularly substance abuse and alcoholism.
    Your mileage may vary.

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    1. I have been following this for quite some time and I still cannot figure out why the “non-religious” aspects of the 12 Steps are the objectionable part. How is recovery possible without self-examination and self-responsibility?

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  17. For the Good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do… –Paul the Apostle said this …Romans 7:19
    This is the bottom line with CR… it is understood there that Jesus Christ is the son of God.. He died for our sins. We ALL are cursed to have a sinful nature…(this is described in AA or NA as a disease) Celebrate Recovery is great!! I’m a little biased because I’m a believer. I also was apart of AA NA for many years, successfully sometimes and miserably other times…. but as you learn in ANY MEETINGS!!! If you are not going to TOTALLY SUBMIT yourself to the program, it’s pointless…. If you are going to go to CR and have an apprehension to WHATEVER your mind can use to deter your being there and NOT completely submit yourself, then I would say that is not being honest with yourself…. If you go to an AA meeting and say… Let’s see if this works… and hope for a reason for it to not ‘work’, then you are fooling YOURSELF…. right? If you are questioning a meeting of ANY sort…. I would definitely make plans to get my butt there! You can always go back to living the way you were…. disease….sinful nature… whatever… give me the truth and show me how to live. Stick with the winners…etc. etc. Who is He that overcometh the world but He who believes Jesus Christ is the son of God. I would go to the AA meetings and NA meetings and use the whole meeting as a punching bag and curse the world out and blah blah blah… I don’t do that anymore… (sometimes I lose self-control) that’s something I definitely wanted to work on.. in MY life… everyone is not concerned with that… cursing or looking at certain movies, etc. etc. is no big deal… I accept for my life that there are many things that contribute to my getting high or drinking… and as those things are revealed to me… I seek counsel in dealing with those things… AA and NA weren’t enough for me… CR is where I attend now… and if it’s not broke, why fix it? For the record… I know a good bit of folks who go to AA NA CR and then some… keep seeking the truth… keep fighting the good fight. To God be the glory. One day at a time.

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  18. I agree with the AA and their God only approach, even as a non-Christian I can see that it should always be God through Christ and without that can lead to problems. Saying that you then mention alcoholism as a sin/desire problem. If only we made the right choices. I think there are two possibilities, that it is a disease or a problem in the genes that causes the person to consumer more than others. Lets be clear alcholholism cuts across the board in terms of who it affects but I also like the idea that it is a lacking in something whether it be love and wholeness and The God/Christ angle is better as it offer the love/wholeness approach.

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      1. sorry I meant I am not a practising Christian or I haven’t been baptized. I suppose there are many non-Christians ie not specific faith who use God as their faith which is great for strength but standard religions normally have a flag bearer when defining the beauty of God’s nature, or so I’m told. Maybe I should shut up : ) I just thought of Judaism ; ) Oh dear now I will have to experience the wrath of God. I suppose whatever works.

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      2. I doubt you’ll have to experience the wrath of a loving Greater Power that made you human. I’m catching on now. You’re saying your non-denominational. From an outside viewpoint, Christian is a term for anyone who worships Jesus Christ. (I found the word God with a capital “G” in an unabridged dictionary once. It had fourteen definitions, one of which worked for me.)

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      3. I like wrath of a loving power and many ways I do seek that or a genuine sense of peace. My main bread and butter has been Buddhism and I have met many great teachers who have given me peaceful and joyous experience so I look for the same in Christianity. I have found two places so far 1. Gerard W Hughes Cry of Wonder and once in a Church while listening to the hymn Amazing Grace. 🙂

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  19. I don’t consider my self an alcoholic although problems in my family have existed due to alchohol such as domestic violence and sexual abuse. All these pronlems stemmed from alchohol related problems. The problem with AA is that it uses God out of religious context and of course it works because they get the most powerful person in the universe to give them the will they didn’t have themselves but God without Christ or genuine loveis worthless. This is why in the AA the 13th step exists that when people who have kicked their habit replace it with another habit which for a small minority could be a younger girlfriend. SOme groups in AA I felt were really angry when it came to god and almost spat the word out. One group I left I needed to calm down because people were still empty inside even though they no longer drank, they still were not whole people. I am more a Buddhist but I have started to look at Christianity as a new model but I will wait and see but of course Christ through God because we need to be introduced to this all consuming love gently. That’s what most of us are scared real love. Anyway I am blagging here trygint to recover from mental ill health. Of course I think I will recover myself and get bac to normaiy. which involves booze again. That’s my problem but great posts and let me know where you operate.

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    1. I will not argue about religion, but I will make a simple “I” statement. I have been in 12-Step recovery in various fellowships since September of 1988. The results are wonderful. I could not have used recovery at any point in that time if it was tied to any belief system, including the non-Christian one I eventually came to use outside of recovery.

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  20. Thank you for your thoughts on learnHowiWrite. As a reluctant AA, I agree that it is not contingent we in recovery march lock-step by every notion expressed in the words of one or many. AA is about as solidly Christian as you can get, Look at Matt, James, I-Corin, Galatians, it goes on. CR sounds similiar to the Oxford Groups and their attendance to moral issues and the Judeo-Christian word. As a Unitarian Universalist, I believe we all get it absolutely right on some things, some of the time, and mostly right on a lot of things often enough to be proud of our efforts. What I have found that is critical in recovery…, Stepping aside, getting out of my own head once in a while. Take on another’s burden for just one day. Try to make a difference rather than be different. Or difficult. I find many recovery programs lacking in that they are not facilitated by knowledgable professionals. Yes, my experiences are all worthwhile, but let’s see if there just might be a little mental illness traipsing along with all that moral turpitude. Or maybe this is just a bad fit, or perhaps I just like, really like getting high. It’s not a binary issue, either or, sometimes there’s a lot going on we don’t want to handle or even acknowledge. On the money thing, Bill W made millions off AA pretty much right out the chute, he also renegged on promises to the co-writers [and first] of AA, didn’t pay back loans accepted when he was flat-broke, $850,000 give or take, and sucked down about 100 thou in treatment (today) dollars before he “saw the light”. Some of the best facilitated recovery work can be found at your local mental health center. Look for Social Workers attached to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and those who use Rational Emotive Behav Therapy (REBT)…yes, they say reee-bit.

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  21. I am grateful for celebrate recovery. It was an amazing thing for me. I ended up in something called freedom nights at a big church which in fact mixed aa,na and the sort and that got a whole lot of confusing but when i decided to give it over to God to get the help i desired and needed it was then i was truly able to celebrate recovery. He (as in God) has helped me and waked me through more steps than I can ever imagine. Now i understand these programs work for a lot of people and i am grateful they found sobriety by any means but with me i was already a mess and i didn’t need it to be worse and i am afraid the God as you understand Him and the higher power just didn’t work for me and now i can say what did work for me has kept me 15 months sober. It has been an amazing journey for me. Learning a lot about myself and discovering the things that i have ran from for so long and masked by the power of addition. Prayer to all who have succumbed to this disease and battling it daily because i fully believe he battle is never over

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  22. Victoria –

    Good job on the comparison. I was a CR Ministry Leader a number of years ago and found it to be quite helpful for myself and many others who went through the program. Unless things have change significantly over the past years it is a good program, but the success of the participants (as in any recovery venture) ultimately depends upon how much effort they are willing to put into it and how honest they are willing to be with themselves and those to whom they are accountable.

    Ultimately, I stopped using the full-blown CR program since they require strict adherence to not allowing ANY OUTSIDE RESOURCE or MATERIAL into the meeting(s) – only CR material is allowed if you wanted to use the CR name and market/advertise your meetings as such. I understand this to a point, but I also came to feel that this had as much to do with marketing as with anything else despite the ‘goodness’ they do achieve of seeking a cookie-cutter type of meeting where you could attend any CR meeting anywhere in the country and know exactly what was going on and what to expect since they were all run the same way and taught from the same material.

    I wanted to honor this requirement, and did so as long as I was heading up the CR ministry, but I felt it was too artificially constraining as I was unwilling to totally disregard other Christian avenues and resources available just because they were not published/condoned by CR – I wanted those I was trying to help to have every possible chance for success. My other ‘issue’ stemmed from the ‘pass’ the program seemed to give (at least at that time) to enablers and those they labeled as “ACOA” (Adult Children of Alcoholics) which, more often than not, was used as an ‘excuse’ for why they acted the way they did rather than a stepping-off point for working on their issues (yes, you have a ‘reason’ for feeling/acting the way you do, but you have no ‘right’ to stay that way – move on!)!

    You are also, partially, correct as to the meetings ‘mixing’ addictions rather than being singularly focused. First, after the “social aspect”, which we call fellowship, and the worship session with teaching, the Large Group meeting breaks out into Small Groups with the only hard rule that the men and women meet separately. Whether or not these small groups are ‘blended’ depends on the size of the overall CR group. I have been to meetings around the country where they were mixed addiction groups since there were only a few attendees, and others where there were addiction-specific groups because of the size of the ministry or due to a large number of individuals struggling with a specific addition.

    Yes, the over-all General Meetings typically take place only once per week, but once the CR leadership sees a person is ready to go deeper, they are afforded the opportunity to join a Step-Group that meets on a different day/night giving them a second meeting per week. These meeting work through four workbooks and dig much deeper than the Large Group and Small Group meetings. Bottom line, I find the key distinguishing component of the CR program to be its reliance and insistence on God and Jesus as our ‘Higher Power’. I went through a number of AA / _A meeting over the years, and it was not until I linked up with CR that I finally found freedom.

    Sorry for carrying on – got on a roll… :/

    Blessings,
    Scott P.

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  23. Great information. I’ve been around the block several times with Christianity and its view of alcoholism as a “moral deficiency”. Don’t buy it, never have, never will. But, as you say, if CR works for a suffering addict, then fine. When CR doesn’t work, its the AA meetings every day, several times a day in every city, town, and hamlet that save lost souls.

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  24. My truth–discussion is helpful
    debate not so much–AA suggests we give up the debating society
    trust God and clean house–for me that’s a full time job

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