12 Steps or 1 ??


#1

I have a friend that is participating in a 12 step program through his parish, he hasnt drank alcohol in 6 months now, which is awesome.

But the other day he said something which made me grow suspicious. I asked him if his ‘sponsor’ was Catholic and he replied by saying “The Church tells us what to do but doesnt show us how to do it, I need AA”…

That was pretty much the end of that discussion. But it begs the question…

Why does a Catholic have to resort to an organization outside of the Church to fix his problems? Why is AA’s success rate so high and so many people saying they cant get the same help in the Church?

I have also heard certain people say that AA is somewhat of a fraud, leaving people in bondage to a vice that they can never get free from, and are never allowed a sip again, because AA actually has not freed them from vice but taught them how to run away from alcohol. I have heard the saying, “Catholics dont need 12 steps they need 1”

Can I get some feedback?


#2

Years ago I participated in the program for the sake of my sister who had a drug abuse problem.
My experience there was interesting because I saw some people who truly wanted to recover from the alcohol abuse, I also saw some who simply went from being addicted to alcohol to being addicted to meetings.
The question what is the worse of two evils?
The church does not have the time to listen to this over and over again. I did literally hear alcoholics who would tell the same story every week.
I think the first step admitting the problem is the best step. But the steps do follow one another quite well.
Also some people just need the companionship of being with others.
As my husband would tell me over and over misery breeds company.
But if they feel they are getting help and it takes the drinking off the highways, they do learn a better way.
Some do find God others still remain with the higher power theory.
But all in all if a person can go and listen to others, sometimes their own lives don’t look so bad, so they slowly begin to grow.
I hope this helps! It is simply my brief experience I saw.


#3

[quote=Toni]Years ago I participated in the program for the sake of my sister who had a drug abuse problem.
My experience there was interesting because I saw some people who truly wanted to recover from the alcohol abuse, I also saw some who simply went from being addicted to alcohol to being addicted to meetings.
The question what is the worse of two evils?
The church does not have the time to listen to this over and over again. I did literally hear alcoholics who would tell the same story every week.
I think the first step admitting the problem is the best step. But the steps do follow one another quite well.
Also some people just need the companionship of being with others.
As my husband would tell me over and over misery breeds company.
But if they feel they are getting help and it takes the drinking off the highways, they do learn a better way.
Some do find God others still remain with the higher power theory.
But all in all if a person can go and listen to others, sometimes their own lives don’t look so bad, so they slowly begin to grow.
I hope this helps! It is simply my brief experience I saw.
[/quote]

I guess that brings up a few questions:

Is AA helping more than it is harming?

Are there better ways?

Do Catholics who are frustrated with the church already ever go into AA and pick up a new ‘Higher Power’?

Is AA where the Church dumps the laity that are stuck in vice instead of dealing with them on her own?


#4

Looking for a lil more input than that…come on guys

:yawn:


#5

[quote=SojournerOf78]I guess that brings up a few questions:

Is AA helping more than it is harming?
[/quote]

From what I saw, it can go either way depending on the strength of the person. Or if they are truly searching for help, or just wanting others to share in their misery. I did see some who were very sincere.

[quote=SojournerOf78]IAre there better ways?
[/quote]

I believe that faith and Christ is the only way, but to get others on that page is not an easy undertaking. Some people I am sure could be helped with some good counselors. Some simply need guidance and don’t know Christ or even how to go about it.

[quote=SojournerOf78]Do Catholics who are frustrated with the church already ever go into AA and pick up a new ‘Higher Power’?
[/quote]

Depending on the people attending a meeting, yes I think that could happen. Some people are stronger leaders despite the disease and can lead the weak down a rugged path. But I must say that somehow prayer from the family and friends can be one of the greatest influences in helping that soul stay strong, fight their addiction, and allow Christ in to heal them. But prayer and lots of it can do more good for alot of these people simply because it does seem to be just another dumping ground for their problems.

[quote=SojournerOf78]Is AA where the Church dumps the laity that are stuck in vice instead of dealing with them on her own?
[/quote]

I am not sure if that is really a fair question, in working in a parish for years I did see priests meet with many of these people. But they do tend to end up with all the other ills as well. What should take precedence, the couple that comes in with marriage problems? The drug addict, alcoholic? The abused? The molested? The homeless? The suffering? The elderly? The homeless? Mass preparation? Confession? Funerals? Weddings? If we had more priests and less people with needs we may not have to use AA as a dumping ground.


#6

The 12 steps were not for me. Being from a small town, I had to decide if I wanted to air my dirty laundry. I have a young daughter who has to live in this small community. I prayed for years before I was “delivered”. When I read the 12 steps today, I realize that I have worked them, but not through a program, through God and myself. If you need the 12 steps and the support of this program, then please do join one, but if you have the strength to go at it with God’s help alone, then pray, pray, pray. I can testify that prayer does work in time! God bless and good luck to your friend!


#7

From what I have seen, having been a few times myself, it just replaces one crutch for another. Treating the symptoms, instead of the problem. The only way to fix any addiction is to fill the hole with Jesus instead of alcohol, drugs, sex, work, etc… Anytime a person has an addiction that is idolatry. You are elevating your desire to do what you should turn to the Lord for. And thats a big fat sin thats not going to be helped by sharing sob stories with others in the same boat.


#8

[quote=Trelow]The only way to fix any addiction is to fill the hole with Jesus instead of alcohol, drugs, sex, work, etc…
[/quote]

This is what I was trying to say, but you summed it up in one sentencel. Great advice Trelow.:thumbsup:


#9

“leaving people in bondage to a vice that they can never get free from, and are never allowed a sip again, because AA actually has not freed them from vice but taught them how to run away from alcohol.”

Unfortunetly some vices can only be avoided by running away from them.

Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation. -St. Augustine

As well, the Church has a specific purpose: to build the City of God among the City of Men, to spread the Good News. My parish doesn’t have the medical capabilities to treat me when I’m physically sick. But it has ways to help me get through my illness spiritually. Similarily, I think that some (not all) alcoholics need that medical attention, or support from a group who is going through the same thing… That coupled with spiritual direction will help the person. :slight_smile:


#10

the other day he said something which made me grow suspicious. I asked him if his ‘sponsor’ was Catholic and he replied by saying “The Church tells us what to do but doesnt show us how to do it, I need AA”…

Your friend’s answer may not have been correct inasmuch the Church DOES show us how to do it. But the sponsor from AA does NOT need to be catholic in order for the sponsor to aid in your friend’s “working the steps.”

Apparently your friend has felt ‘lost’ or ‘misguided’ by the church or hasn’t received much spiritual direction from a qualified catholic spiritual counselor and that would explain his response "I need AA to show me how to do ‘it’ " - whatever “it” is that he refers to.

An alcoholic (I grew up in an alcoholic home and then married/divorced [and now annulled] an alcoholic) cannot overcome the addiction by himself. Those in his family and his friends cannot deal with the addiction alone, either. AA and Al-Anon are excellent resources, IN ADDITION TO the Catholic Church.
Why does a Catholic have to resort to an organization outside of the Church to fix his problems? Why is AA’s success rate so high and so many people saying they cant get the same help in the Church?

Alcoholism/Drug addiction are diseases. Saying that your friend should not use AA as a resource is like saying that a person who is diagnosed with Major Depressive Illness should not also be a member of a support group for others with the same/similar diagnosis for support in coping with the daily struggles IN ADDITION to the resources of the Catholic Church. It is like telling someone who has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer they should not attend the Cancer Survivors’ Group because the Catholic Church should meet all of their needs. Also, make sure to tell the breast cancer patient that if they solace and companionship with a survivor who is not Catholic, s/he had better not take any advice from this person, because it is not “Catholic” advice.

The above analogies are absurd. You would NOT advise a cancer patient NOT to join a support group nor a person diagnosed with depression NOT tojoin a support. Nor would you tell either person NOT to befriend someone in that group who was NOT Catholic. To me, This is what you are asking/questioning/proposing for your friend who is trying to overcome/deal with his alcoholism.

As a previous writer noted, a priest/pastor and his staff at the local church simply cannot deal with the volume of needs that the parish has on a personal basis, depending on the size of the parish. Certainly, your friend should be attending the Sacrament of Reconciliation and seeking some spiritual guidance from a catholic source as well (not necessarily your parish priest), but AA is an additional support tool.


#11

HI!
I have been sober since May 4, 1992 and have been a participant in AA since 1990. It took me two years to get 30 full days of continuous sobriety. If I do not drink between now and May 4, 2007 I will celebrate 15 years of continuous sobriety.

I am one of those people for whom AA has worked wonderfully and it never took me away from my Catholic Faith - on the contrary, AA gave me back my FAITH which lead me Home to Rome.

There are others on this forum who believe AA is dangerous and that we need a ‘Catholic Recovery Program’. I believe we do not. It is just a difference of opinion.

Because I believed in God when I got to AA I did not have the problems many alcoholics have when they first start on the road to recovery. For some reason I never blamed the Catholic Church for any of my problems with alcohol…others do just that and I figure that if they get a good sponsor, who focuses them on the 12 steps AND the 12 traditions they will learn that being a Catholic had no more to do with them being an alcoholic than being a presbyterian has with getting breast cancer.

My experience has also been that, if someone is a drug addict and not an alcoholic they should be active in an appropriate 12 step program for their problem. Others disagree. I believe in the 12 Traditions of AA, however, and acknowledge that it is very prideful of us to ever think we can be ‘all things to all people’.

Again, my experience may differ from others on this forum who have gotten sober through either other means or through AA. If you are interested in listening to an incredible testimony (that is true to the traditions) I would suggest you go to Renewelministries.net and download the program from Apr 16 through 20th or go to lornakelly.com and get her book The Camel Knows the Way.


#12

I’m a recovering alcoholic with 20 years sober. As an atheist I went to AA, followed the steps (all of them, in order!) and am doing great. As the 12th step says, I had a spiritual awakening as a result of the steps. Shortly after going to my first meeting I met my wife at a meeting. She has 19 years, we’ve been married 15.

We (my wife and I) have thought for years that something was missing and we’re joining the Catholic church.

Many times I have heard of bad things the Catholic church as done. Every time these bad things have been done by a few of the billions of individuals that have made up the church for 2000 years. I can hardly expect perfection from all of them all the time.

I have also heard many bad things said at AA meetings. There are lots of people in the meetings, all at some level of disfunctionality. Some of them are really screwed up! None of the bad stuff I’ve heard is “AA” policy.

Re trading one crutch for another, have your guys ever heard of a support group? I traded the spiritual bankruptcy, financial bankruptcy, family problems, health problems, near suicide attempts, sexual affairs, job problems, . . . well, let me stop there, for my AA crutch.

I would recommend AA to anyone, even my children. Hey, that’s right, I did!

Thanks for discussion guys. If I might gently comment on your posts, please think through what your saying before you post it. :slight_smile:

God bless you.


#13

This website is interesting. It tells about Sister Mary Ignatia Gavin, who worked in hospitals with alcoholics. barefootsworld.net/aasisterignatia.html


#14

Also, If you are truly concerned and feel that he is being “poisoned” by AA, go to the AA chapter’s Al-Anon group, which is for friends and family members of alcohics. You will see that it is not poison or an attempt to take your friend away from the Catholic Church. You may even see some people there you know and be quite surprised. Alcohlism cuts across gender, social and economic lines - and affects everyone’s lives with whom the alcoholic has contact.

Obviously, you are very close to this person and care deeply for him and his salvation. Al-Anon is not for everyone every time, but I did find that going to just a couple months worth of meetings was worth the time and effort. The Daily Reading book, The Courage to Change, is a wonderful resource for comfort and reflection and is not some fundamentalist “sway me to your way of thinking” ultra-rightist conversion book. It focuses on what I personally can do to make my life better and my relationship with others and my “Higher Power.” (God and the Trinity for me.)

You will see that AA, the Twelve Steps and the Catholic Church all coincide… the Twelve Steps are almost like going to confession! But a person addicted to alcohol, drugs or whatever has a broken relationship with God and others plus a distorted view of his/her own life, and needs to be re-centered – the Twelve Steps are a great aid in that process, and a sponsor has “been there, done that;” and continues to re-work the steps as necessary.

Those in AA programs and take-offs of it are not the only ones who benefit from “Working the Steps.” Every one of us would do well to “work the steps.” Read them and decide for yourself before passing judgment:

alcoholics-anonymous.org/en_services_for_members.cfm?PageID=98&SubPage=117

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

**1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

  1. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

  2. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

  3. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

  4. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

  5. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

  6. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

  7. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

  8. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

  9. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

  10. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

  11. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.**

Reading these over again, these steps sound remarkably like leaflets, brochures, etc. that have been in various parish bulletins I have received over the years, and statements my spiritual counselors have told me time and time again…


#15

THE CATHOLIC CONTRIBUTION TO THE 12-STEP MOVEMENT
By W. Robert Aufill from This Rock

Check out the Calix Society.

AA for Catholics.


#16

matttalbotretreats.org/


#17

#18

There are several well-known priests who are large proponents of 12 step programs. One of my favorites is Fr. Emmerich Vogt, who was just elected provincial leader for the Western Dominican Province. You can visit his website at 12-step-review.org/index.html He’s a member of Al-anon as his primary program.
You can also download and listen to some of his talks from ewtn and Catholic Answers for free.

another big proponent is Fr. Benedict Groeschel. He’s not a member, but as a psychologist, he recommends them to his patients suffering from addictions and compulsive behavior.


#19

Well, AA doesn’t fix his problems, God does. AA is a program specifically targeted at getting alcoholics into a right relation with God so that God’s power can work in our lives. Most of what AA does is basic remedial spiritual development for the selfish and obtuse. It’s what normal people learned in middle school.

The sucess rate is probably as high as it is because we have “singleness of purpose.” It’s easier to be good at something if it’s all you do. The rate isn’t really as high as many of us like to think it is. It’s a pretty drastic program; not everyone is willing to embrace humility to the degree required, and for most of us alcoholic egomaniacs, by the time we react that point we’re pretty severely damaged.

I wasn’t in a position to get help from the Church at that point because I was not only fallen away, I was too obnoxious and belligerent to listen to anybody who couldn’t match my horror stories and show me he knew where I was coming from. Maybe Corapi could have whacked some sense into me. This works one drunk to another.

Monday I had a conversation with a guy at a meeting. We were talking about some of the Catholic aspects of the program (teaching that faith without works is dead, confessing one’s faults to a a person, the use of the prayer of St Francis, etc.) I think he may be interested in Calix.

Calix isn’t exactly Catholic AA, but it is intended to help Catholic AA members develop spiritually, in keeping with Church teaching. Its a good place to find a Catholic sponsor. I encourage Catholic AAs to check it out, to stay grounded in truth.

AA, like much of the modern world, is full of people who, while honestly trying to establish right relation with God, have some “different” ideas. It’s just that we started out a bit sicker than average, so somethimes different can get pretty wild.

As for being a fraud, it worked for me just as advertised. It has made it possible for me to stay away from a drink, live comfortably in my skin and become a useful member of society for the last 14 years.

At 6 months your friend is still pretty new at this. Let him find his way.


#20

OK, as a member of AA, 23 years sober, I think the best place to start would be for you to read some AA literature. NOT “The Big Book”. There is an AA pamphlet titled “A Member’s Eye View Of AA”. Probably the best summing up of AA, and one that should answer most of your questions. You can pick it up at some AA meetings and at most AA Central Offices.

Why do catholics need AA instead of the Church? Because when most in the church try to help alcoholics, they almost inevitably “talk down” to the alcoholic. AAs talk to each other as equals. Also, way too many in the Catholic church still think of alcoholism as a moral failure, not a disease.

To truly be able to help an alcoholic, you must truly believe that we are NOT bad people trying to be good, but sick people trying to be well.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.