Monday, August 9

We're addicted to rehab. It doesn't even work.


By Bankole A. Johnson
Sunday, August 8, 2010 

Excerpts:

For decades, Americans have clung to a near-religious conviction that rehab -- and the 12-step model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous that almost all facilities rely upon -- offers effective treatment for alcoholism and other addictions....
Here's the problem: We have little indication that this treatment is effective. When an alcoholic goes to rehab but does not recover, it is he who is said to have failed. But it is rehab that is failing alcoholics. The therapies offered in most U.S. alcohol treatment centers are so divorced from state-of-the-art of medical knowledge that we might dismiss them as merely quaint -- if it weren't for the fact that alcoholism is a deadly and devastating disease.....
Controlled studies of specific treatment centers are rare; compounding the problem, many programs simply don't follow up with former patients. And when they do report a success rate, be it 30 percent or 100, a closer look almost always reveals problems. That 100 percent rate turns out to apply only to those who "successfully completed" the program. Well, no kidding. The 30 percent rate applies to patients' sobriety immediately after treatment, not months or years later.....
Although AA doubtless helps some people, it is not magic. I have seen, in my work with alcoholics, how its philosophy can be harmful to patients who chronically relapse: AA holds that, once a person starts to slip, he or she is powerless to stop. The stronger an alcoholic's belief in this perspective, the longer and more damaging relapses can be. An evening of drinking turns into a month-long bender.....
Equally troubling, AA maintains that when an alcoholic fails, it is his fault, not the program's. As outlined in the organization's namesake bible, "Alcoholics Anonymous" (also known as "The Big Book"): "Those who do not recover are those who cannot or will not give themselves completely to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates . . . they seem to have been born that way." This message can be devastating.....
I recommend reading the entire article. It is a long overdue major media critique of the worthlessness of 12-step. Being in a nationally read paper like The WaPo is remarkable by itself.
Source:  We're addicted to rehab. It doesn't even work.

2 comments:

tj808 said...

Good article Ed.
This part made an impact on me

"AA holds that, once a person starts to slip, he or she is powerless to stop. The stronger an alcoholic's belief in this perspective, the longer and more damaging relapses can be"..

I guess I had contemplated this before but the above quote brought it home to me in a big way...It makes sense doesn't it...? That if someone believes that "god" is the only person/thing to help them and they haven't got that belief, or have lost it in an alcohol haze/hell then they will believe that they are powerless to stop drinking unless there is divine intervention....I massive irony methinks...or rather a deadly irony...

Reminds me also of those that used to say "if the word god drives you out of AA, then god will bring you back.."

Jeeez...

Good article..if nothing else it explains the dichotomy very simply.

Hobbsian said...

I read this article a few days ago and am of two minds on it:

1) It is nice to see the 5th largest newspaper and such mainstream press print something critical of "the program that doesn't work."

2) But as a paid consultant of pharmaceutical companies the impartiality of the author is suspect. This is unfortunate and his barking and promotion of of "medicine" certainly does nothing to distance him from such perceived bias.

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