There has been discussion lately in the media about support groups and alternatives to 12-step programs. While some may be legitimate or work as a supplement to 12-step programs, others are not only ineffective but possibly unsafe to their participants. So how can you know which groups to steer clear of? Are there any warning signs to look out for when choosing a treatment center or other program?
Enthusiastic Recovery: A Cautionary Tale in Unhealthy Practices
One group that has been in the media is a group called Enthusiastic Recovery, run by an ex-con named Bob Meehan. Meehan targets desperate parents in his scheme, promising to get their teenagers “off drugs” and charging them top-dollar as he uses unusual, unsafe, and unhelpful tactics. Meehan has been getting away with his scheme for years. When one program is closed, another one opens – usually under a new name in a new location.
The group itself doesn’t exactly follow addiction science. Instead, its focus on rhetoric- often being spoonfed hateful teachings such as homophobia and racism. They also set their participants up for failure, constantly teaching them to adopt an “Us versus Them” mentality when it comes to anybody outside the program or any criticism.
Recovery Without Self-Improvement?
However, the most glaring flaw in Enthusiastic Recovery’s program is the lack of self-improvement as a goal. In Meehan’s recovery program, young people are allowed to rebel in almost any way, as long as they aren’t using drugs.
For this reason, kids in his program are allowed to swear and disrespect others, smoke cigarettes or vape as much as they want, drop out of school, and commit actual crimes together. The group has been known to vandalize property, commit arson, and even abuse animals. These practices are both illegal and unsafe. Not exactly the behavior your want tokeep your loved ones out of trouble or jail. In fact, the very nature of this program makes it unsafe for participants.
For this reason, most of the addiction recovery community considers Enthusiastic Recovery a cult. Addiction is a disease that requires treatment, not enabling. Many people get addicted to things like stealing, sex, and the “rush” from criminal behavior. This is often just trading one addiction for another.
The Dangers of Cult-Like Treatment Centers
Don’t be fooled; deceptive groups that teach young people to commit crimes are a serious problem, not only because of criminal behavior. Cult-like groups can also leave scars with their participants, who have never had a chance for true recovery or therapy to help them improve their lives.
Without a proper understanding of the disease of addiction, it can be unsafe for newly sober people to re-enter the world.
Choose an established treatment provider that follows addiction and recovery science. They will be able to create a program that helps you reclaim your life, a day at a time.