Editor: Why 12 Step Programs Fail

Speaking to his disciples, the Buddha said, “Whoever in this world overcomes this craving so hard to transcend will find that suffering falls away like drops of water falling from a flower.” 

—Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment, page. 84 (no sutta reference given). 

You know why AA 12 Step and other addiction treatment programs fail? Because most people don’t want to Wake Up. Letting go of addictions of all kinds requires some kind of mental and spiritual awakening, and it’s damn hard. People want to stop alcoholic drinking and drug addiction because they want to stop feeling like shit. They want to feel better; they want to feel good. But they often find that they don’t feel any better when they stop drinking and using, and often times, they actually feel worse. Because not acting on your addictions causes emotional and even physical pain and requires an immense effort of spiritual work to keep it up day after day, And that’s just more effort than most people want to put into the project. They want sobriety to be mindless and effortless, just like taking drugs. Very few people stay sober in 12 Step programs because very few people are willing to do the intense psychological and spiritual work it takes to stay clean for a lifetime.


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