The Kreuzbund in Germany is a registered Catholic mutual help organization
for addicted people, people who are abstinent and relatives of such people. The Kreuzbund
Organization belongs to the German “Caritas” and is the largest German mutual help organization for addicts. Kreuzbund is also a member of the “Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen (DHS)” which is the German umbrella organization for addiction problems.
Kreuzbund has the aim to prevent addiction, to help addicted people and people who have problems with alcohol and drugs as well as to help relatives. The mutual help groups have the aim to achieve a stable recovery, to live abstinently, to reach well-being and personal growth for every individual who visits these groups. Rehabilitation and integration of addicts into family, profession and society are important objectives. Kreuzbund also contributes significantly to the stabilization of an abstinent lifestyle by offering useful leisure activities without alcohol or drugs.
The Kreuzbund Organization currently has 1,400 mutual help groups in Germany and about 24,000 regular members and visitors. Anyone can join the Kreuzbund organization, anyone who believes in the objectives and tasks of the organization; addicts have to commit themselves to abstinence. The help being offered by Kreuzbund is mainly characterised by group meetings and conversation. The groups and the volunteers are often the first contact for addicts and relatives who are looking for help. The contact may turn up during out-patient or in-patient treatment and the groups and volunteers cooperate with specialists such as physicians, psychologists and social workers. Kreuzbund is an important link and indispensable part of the recovery system for addicts. Years of experience have shown that the success of any therapy is positively influenced by the attendance to a mutual help group. Approximately one third of the people attending a mutual help group manage to find their way into a life free of addictive substances without a renewed in- or out-patient treatment. About 80 per cent of the addicts, who are long-term members or visitors of a Kreuzbund group, stay permanently abstinent.
Kreuzbund has its roots in the Catholic Church. Father Josef Neumann, a Catholic priest, founded the Kreuzbund movement in “Aachen” (Aix-la-Chapelle), a city close to the Belgian and Netherlands border, in 1896. When alcoholism was defined as an illness by the WHO and by the German Supreme Social Insurance Tribunal in 1968, addicts started to join the Kreuzbund Organization. The “abstainers’ society” Kreuzbund became the “mutual help and helpers’ community for addicts”.
Kreuzbund is separated into groups, Dioceses and State organizations and the Federal organization. About 6,000 members have taken over functions as volunteers, as group chairmen as well as in managing positions. There is a close cooperation between the volunteers and the few full-time employees in the federal office in Hamm. These employees are responsible to implement the basic elements and ideas of aftercare in the mutual help field and for administration and organization. The qualification of the voluntary Kreuzbund helpers is continuously being improved by training and further training.
Kreuzbund is a non-profit organization. It is financed by its own resources (membership fees, donations) and by earmarked funds contributed by public and church authorities. Kreuzbund cooperates with the welfare organizations as well as with institutions and people who care for addicts and also with public health committees, church, political groups and public administration. Any cooperation with the alcohol-industry is rejected.