12 step programs


I have been doing a lot of thinking about the value of 12 step programs. My wife and I are active in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. We have seen many people healed from addictions. Along our journey we have come into contact with several 12 step programs including AA , Sober and more. I’m not feeling so warm and fuzzy about these programs and here’s why.
• First and foremost Jesus is the healer
• Many programs such as AA started by recognizing that Christ is the healer but have since replaced Christ with “a higher power”.
• Many programs themselves become the God. AA actually has a statement that says without AA you are nothing; I read this in one of their booklets.
• Constant false confessions: If Christ is the healer and you are healed why would you ever want to reclaim the addiction by saying I am an ………
• Focus on failure: after one drink the person must restart the healing.
• Focus on sobriety rather than Christ: Many times I hear people refer to themselves as “recovering …. and (x) number of days sober”.
• Christ died for our sins and forgives us when we slip. We don’t focus on the sin but the salvation.
I would like to hear your comments because we are continuing council for many of Gods children battling addictions. :shrug:


Hi, I’m a mastrubation addict.

The brain of an addict is wired wrong. Between chemicals in the brain squirting out positive re-enforcement and whatever chemicals you might be introducing into your body, your brain responds and feels pleasure for whatever it is you do. Not doing it can equal distress, a serious down, a need for increased pleasure to feel a new high, etc.

I don’t feel that I’m “reclaiming the addiction” by announcing that I’m a mastrubation addict. I’m pointing out a fact - my brain is wired so that it thinks it needs me to give in to sex in order to produce pleasure and drag me out of my funks. It’s been re-wired by constant feeding of something negative to believe that it needs something negative to function. Even though I have currently gone over two months without giving in, the temptation is stronger for me than for many other people because my brain and body “expect” me to give in at some point. I’m re-wired wrong; therefore, I still have this addictive tendency. I’m an addict.

After one time of giving in, I’m not allowed to participate in the Eucharist because I’m in a state of grave sin, if not mortal sin, and need to go to Reconcilliation. I need to start the healing over again by re-affirming that I know what I did was wrong, that I want to try again to be good and holy, and that I am helpless without God’s grace to overcome temptation.

I’m a recovering mastrubation addict, and have been “sober” for over two months. I acknowledge my fault, that it’s something that I give in to, that I’m wrong for giving in and am responsible for my own actions. I see each day that I resist temptation as one more day that I’ve been able to accept God’s Grace and use His presence to obey His will, not my own.

Christ forgives us when we slip, but we’re still required to go to Confession, to reconcile ourselves to God and to regain the Grace to overcome our sins. We perform sins willingly, not caring about anybody else. That means a breach with God that must be healed, and can only be healed by acknowledging that we’ve deliberately failed and that we need to get back on the wagon again. That’s why we do Penance. To make up for our deliberate failures.

As to your other objections, I don’t know enough about them except that perhaps the groups are trying to reach out to non-Christians to help them overcome their problems, but an alcoholic or sex addict who refuses to believe in God won’t be as inclined to join a Christian-based group. That’s a theory, and if it’s reality, it’s not one I approve of. So I really can’t answer your other objections because I share some of them. That Higher Power should be the Holy Trinity.


Here’s what I know. You’re right, it’s all about Jesus, and it’s all about His grace. But…

What is a person to do that doesn’t understand all of that right away? Places like AA offer folks a comfortable situation - with others struggling with the same issues. AA offers the recovering alcoholic some hope. For me, it was the first time that I saw a lot of people like me who were able to get off the sauce.

The book, the meetings, the sponsorship, the “higher power” - they’re all decent substitutes for alcohol. They help a person gain some clarity of thought, and ideally they will figure out that it’s Jesus that they need. I figured that out and haven’t been back to AA since. But I’m grateful that AA was there, or I’d still be drinking and I know I wouldn’t be praying.

In a perfect world, there would be a giant Catholic support group for addicts and drunks, but that doesn’t exist. 12 step programs are the next best thing. They actually work for a lot of people.


My name is Steph, and I’m an alcoholic. Do I believe that Jesus can and does heal people from addictions? By declaring myself as an alcoholic, is that denying that fact? Not at all.

I am dependant on Jesus to heal me. To take away the craving… to teach me how to live life on life’s terms without alcohol. That is where AA comes in. Recovery is SOOOO much more than simply putting a cork in the bottle. Do I wish that sometime Jesus would come along and make me whole? He has. Yet I still identify myself as an alcoholic because to NOT do so is inviting chaos into my life. I need that daily reminder that I can not touch a drop of alcohol. For me, to drink is to die. Perhaps not right away, but I’ve been down that path and I do not want to go there again.

There is nothing in the AA program that makes me not call on the God of my understanding, who is Jesus, of course. Those who are not of my convictions strangly find themselves asking those of us who are in AA and Christian many questions about our faith.

God gave me AA. God inspired AA. I can find nothing in the AA Big Book that denies God or discourages me from being Catholic.



Well thanks for the responses. I have further questions and please don’t think I am judging in any way. We are all children of God and I believe that we are called to help each other and be Christ’s hands here on earth. Your responses will be helpful in counseling and guiding our broken brothers and sisters. Certainly AA and other support organizations provide help to recovering addicts. One might say they are one avenue for Christ to heal. I am more interested in what you may or may not be doing spiritually to receive healing through the Church and the healing sacraments Jesus gave us.

As posted earlier I can testify to Christ’s healing mercy as taking place instantly by removing the urge for the addictive behavior. Some of these people have had setbacks but after coming back to Christ they have recovered and continued their journey. It has been my observation that the most successful of the recovering addicts have participated in daily mass, healing prayer, and anointing of the sick. We counsel the people Christ puts in our path to take advantage of the sacraments which are in fact personal encounters with Jesus. Like Fr. Carapie says” without the grace of the sacraments you are toast”.
So my question here is: are you taking advantage of Jesus by seeking Him daily? Have you taken advantage of prayer ministries in your parish? Have you received the anointing of the sick?

Please be honest your answers will help me on my journey and also others on their journey.


Barbaqued -

Thanks for your patience. I suppose I should have pointed out two things - firstly, I’m not in a 12-step program, but am doing battle on my own, and second, I was using myself as an example of how someone might be able to work inside a 12-step program, and what that person might possibly be thinking or experiencing. I wasn’t clear enough because I was in a rush and didn’t re-read what I wrote, and I’m sorry.

As I said, I’m not in a 12-step, because there aren’t any nearby enough that I feel safe driving to (ah, the joys of being 32 and not having gotten your driver’s license until you were 30 - I am a nervous driver!). So I spend a LOT of time on the Catholic.org and Catholic.com websites whenever I feel terrible temptation and the rest of my time in the confessional.

So my question here is: are you taking advantage of Jesus by seeking Him daily? Have you taken advantage of prayer ministries in your parish? Have you received the anointing of the sick?


Seeking Jesus Daily - trying my best. My current daily prayer is, “God, please grant me the grace to accept your grace, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Prayer ministries in the parish - Currently I’m trying to maintain my new job, so I’m juggling the parish with my work life and my home life and trying to find what’s available for me.

Anointing of the sick - no, haven’t. I’ve done twice-weekly confessions, I’ve done daily confessions when needed, I’ve attended weekly Mass (haven’t received if I haven’t Confessed), and spend a lot of time in personal prayer trying to focus on Christ. Have also spent time alone with the Eucharist, but not received annointing of the sick yet.



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