Did Susan violate the traditions of 12-Step programs by creating BLE?

A few people have expressed concerns about violations of 12-Step traditions, the law, and moral conscience. When Susan started, she had the same concerns, so she did some serious investigating.

As a 12-Step program member, Susan didn’t want to violate the traditions or do anything that wasn’t aligned with solid values and principles. Susan talked with her sponsor, her sponsor’s sponsor, her sponsor’s sponsor’s sponsor, and dozens of other 12-Step members. She studied the traditions and referenced literature from many sources. Susan has been in 12-Step programs for over 20 years, and she didn’t take on any of this lightly.

In the process of her investigation, here’s what she found:

  • There are many organizations and businesses that offer recovery services, in some shape or form, and charge money for them. Hazelden (the publisher of the Twenty-Four Hour a Day book) is one such example. Hazelden charges for everything they provide. They take people through the 12 Steps, offer treatment programs, and sell literature and information—none of this is a violation of the law or the 12 traditions, because they do it without implicitly or explicitly endorsing any specific 12-Step program. They are a separate entity, offering a separate service.
  • If you think about it, every rehab and treatment center is selling recovery services in a similar way. However, they are not affiliated or associated with 12-Step programs, and they offer a service that’s needed and one people want to buy.
  • Not everyone wants a 12-Step program, and not everyone needs a 12-Step program. We like to say a 12-Step program is the “last house on the block.” Susan is providing another house on the block before the “last house.”

Our program is for people who:

  • Are food addicts.
  • Are not food addicts (thus, a 12-Step program for food addiction would be overboard and unnecessary for them), but still want a more effective weight-loss program than Weight Watchers, etc.
  • Have tried a 12-Step program and found it’s not for them.
  • Want to learn the science behind food addiction.
  • Refuse to go a 12-Step program (because of atheism or other personal reasons).

Susan does not incorporate the 12 Steps into Bright Line Eating—she uses science. The current available choices for weight loss plans, such as Weight Watchers, do not factor in the psychology and neuroscience of food addiction. Nor, to be frank, do 12-Step programs.

12-Step programs for food addiction emerged out of years of experience and lots of trial and error. People in these programs are not taught the scientific basis of food addiction (the roles of dopamine, leptin, the nucleus accumbens, etc.). Additionally, 12-Step program disciplines and guidelines on what or how to eat don’t change based on the most current scientific research. And that’s okay.

Susan is offering something different, something needed, and something helpful. Some of the people who are drawn to Bright Line Eating decide to go to a 12-Step program for food addiction instead. Most, though, don’t want or need a 12-Step program.

Susan is very careful to keep her anonymity. She does not identify as a member of a 12-Step program at the public level. There is no violation of traditions here. Many individuals from a 12-Step background write books, devise programs, and go into recovery-related businesses that use the wisdom they have gleaned from their 12-Step experiences (Melody Beattie or Patrick Carnes, for example).