Makes the difference
One of our members, who had hit bottom and was willing to try anything to break free, was still struggling to understand what is so important about the 12 steps groups, and how, as a frum Yid, it could possibly offer more than Chizuk and Mussar could provide. We presented his question to Rabbi Avraham J. Twerski, a Gadol and Talmid Chacham, as well as the author of over 50 books and a world renowned expert in addictions. He replied:
Years ago, someone asked why there is no recovery program based on mussar. I wrote a book called "Self-improvement? I'm Jewish!", which is such a program and shows how it is identical with the 12 steps.
1) I have attended many mussar shiurim. Everybody understands the importance of mussar, but I doubt if many people walk away with the feeling, "If I deviate from this, I'm dead!" A person sincere in recovery realizes that his very life depends on following the program, not theoretically, but very practically. If people would accept mussar that way, it would work.
2) No one in any mussar shiur I attended has ever spoken up and said, "I tried to do things my way, and I fell right back into my old ways." That helps bring home the message that one's life depends on following the program.
3) I don't recall anyone in a mussar shiur being so touched that they began to cry. It happens often in the 12 step program.
4) No one in a mussar shiur shares strength, hope and courage.
These things are what makes the difference.