12 Steps of Recovery vs. 12 Steps of Insanity
  Breaking Free Chizuk #1675  
In Today's Issue
Editor’s Note
Image of the Day
Daily Dose of Dov: Can 12 Steps be used by non-Addicts?
Announcements: My Filter Blocks GYE
Q & A: Why doesn't the Torah address addiction?
Practical Tips: Additional Tools for Recovery
Announcements: Looking for: Members of SA
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Editor’s Note

Dear readers,

in this issue, you will find a broad discussion about the 12 steps and their applicability to Torah Jewry or even to non-addicts.

This discussion flares up from time to time on the GYE forum and we welcome your comments or thoughts.

One GYE member wrote the following:

"In response to "Why doesn't the Torah mention addiction," I have to point out the Ohr Hachaim on the words "k'maaseh eretz mitzraim" which, while he isn't directly discussing addiction, addresses the point that human beings are essentially powerless against lust if they do not have tremendous siyatta dishmaya and take the appropriate steps to avoid sights and thoughts of immorality. A worthwhile read!"

For further discussion on this subject, you can refer to "Yiddishkeit and 12 Steps" by Rabbi Twerski and to "12 Steps: The Spiritual Program" by Retorno.org

As always, if you have no internet access, you can respond to this email and request the full article. I'll be happy to email it to you.

For your amusement, and to offer a perspective on the 12 steps, we are also happy to bring you the 12 steps of Insanity. Enjoy!

Best regards,


Image of the Day
Daily Dose of Dov
Can 12 Steps be used by non-Addicts?
Part 1/2
By Dov


The 12 Step program has so many worthy ideas about living life properly and connecting to Hashem. I wonder if there may be possible harm in non-addicts trying to subscribe to the "disease" and "powerless" model. Could these concepts possibly be counter-productive for non-addicts?

Dov Answers:

I'm told by a CSAT friend of mine that the current opinion among many CSATs is that it's better to avoid using the 'addict' label and model with clients, at least initially, and that giving the label is potentially damaging for many who are not addicts (and certainly many who come to GYE are not addicts).

A funny thing promulgated by some long-time GYE members was the encouragement to liberally apply the advice (it is not AA dogma, but rather AA suggestion) of "Once an addict, always an addict" to any and all GYE forum members. Yep. But this advice is only appropriate or honest when applied to addicts, of course. The funny thing though, is that over the years I have almost exclusively seen that very advice being applied by the very same people who are eager to have all people on GYE use the addiction/recovery model! The two mantras taken together are a sad narrative: "If you deny you are an addict, that proves it must be true - and once you are one, there is no escape forever. So, stick around with us!" Weird. But this is no surprise, for whenever we lie to ourselves or to others, another lie is required in order to create a context in which the first one can continue to survive. AA and SA have never been subject to such things because we use attraction, not promotion. And that old example was promotion at its most desperate. I'm glad it's rare on the forum, nowadays.

Secondly, it has always been my opinion that the reasons that Torah, Chaza"l, and the Jews never came up with AA and 12 Steps Culture are, first: Because religion is not about needing G-d but rather about serving Him correctly and fully, as Sandy B has so eloquently explained. Second: Addiction is not about the Yetzer Hora, which is why learning Torah does not work to stop Heroin, alcohol, or lust addiction. And third: Since all the last 11 steps are only about abandonment of self into G-d's care, 12 Steps recovery is really only for people who will do that. Most people are normal and are b"H given the tools to succeed at life without consciously abandoning themselves to G-d. We can easily see that Hashem created the world in such a way that most people really do not consciously need Him - whether they are religious or not. Addicts are different because - if they have a 1st step, they essentially have no choice but suicide in some form (which many choose, R"l, and we see entire lifetimes go down the tubes in all addictions because of choosing oblivion). Addicts are only different because they have a terminal illness, our ego can finally break, and we can face the fact that we have no other sensible alternative than to depend on our G-d. If it were a true choice, we'd never do it. Only a 'kafa aleihem ha'har k'gigis' experience can enable us to 'choose' dependence upon our G-d. Oh, well, it is what it is.

And, to me, this is the very beauty and greatness of the frum yidden I know who are not addicts and yet still place themselves into Hashem's care! They choose to do that, and that's an amazing thing. I am frum too - but I obviously never started to seriously place myself into His care until my addiction forced me to do do so. Surely only a fraction of normal yidden do that, but I believe there are still bH many of them and I love and admire them so much.

I feel that applying 12 steps and some of the 12 step concepts to non-addicts twists both realities, mixing falsehoods into yiddishkeit by distorting yetzer hora/avodas Hashem into feel-good messages, and also makes a mockery of recovery by pretending that it is Torah when it is in reality only derech eretz and about self-honesty.

In the end, I just think that everyone here will choose to follow their consciences and do things the way they feel best equipped to succeed at them. Life is pretty short and we need to run with what we've got, it seems. Thanks for letting me share how I see addiction/recovery, and some of the 'why'.

To be continued...
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Q & A
Why doesn't the Torah address addiction?

In the issue #1663, we brought you this article in full (you can click on the link to read it again or email me for a full copy). Several member commented on it.

Here is one such comment:

"I just wanted object slightly with something Dov wrote below. He sought to explain why addiction is not found in the Torah, and he wrote this is because we don't want to deal with failure. While I agree with his point that WE don't want to deal with failure, I don't believe it's true that the Torah doesn't deal with failure, or addiction. He goes on to prove this not from the Torah, but from the public messages we get from Rabbonim and the like. That only enforces my point - it's not the Torah that doesn't address addiction. It's the Rabbonim and their Kehilos that don't because of fear of failure. I think Dov really meant to say this, but it unfortunately came out wrong.

As an aside, while Rabbonim are not perfect, I believe they've catered their message to what people are willing to hear, and rightfully so. WE don't want to hear that we've failed. It's too painful, and being told about it from the pulpit will only build up our defenses to close ourselves off from hearing any more about it.

In private, I'm sure you can testify to the fact that Rabbonim are ready to deal with failures. Maybe not all Rabbonim, but many -  especially the ones that support GYE. And the Torah? Hashem Himself? Question doesn't start.



Practical Tips
Additional Tools for Recovery
Looking for: Members of SA

If you are in SA and are willing to be a contact for other frum people in your city who may need SA (to speak with them and introduce them to the groups), please send your contact info to gye.help@gmail.com (first name, cell number, anonymous email address).

Thank you!

Do you think you may have a porn addiction?

Do you have a problem with obsessive and compulsive porn use? Have you seriously tried the tools on GYE and feel that you are not getting better? Maybe it’s time to consider joining a 12-Step program.

Porn Anonymous (PA)
If you’re compulsively acting-out with pornography and masturbation we suggest you explore joining Porn Anonymous (PA). If you need help deciding whether to join PA, call Michael at 347-699-2368, or email help@pornanonymous.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit pornanonymous.org (Hebrew: p-a.org.il / Yiddish: pa-yid.org).

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA)
If your compulsive acting-out has progressed beyond the screen (with other people, paid sexual services, etc.) we suggest you explore joining Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). To figure out if SA is for you, call Dov at 917-414-8205, or email Dov at dov@guardyoureyes.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit www.sa.org.

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