Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous tells me that I am powerless over alcohol when I drink it. Step One of Al-Anon tells me that I am powerless over alcohol when other people drink it, or when other people want to drink it. Both treatment programs, and The Retreat (which is not a treatment program) are powerless over alcohol and addiction when the people in them want to drink.
There has been an important change in the way that many people define relapse and recovery. Twenty years ago, when I started working in treatment, relapse was a sign of failure, a failure with a shared responsibility. It was the alcoholic’s responsibility, in that they had picked up another drink, but it was also a time for the staff to question, “What did we miss? Is there anything we could have done, or done better that could have helped this alcoholic avoid relapse?”