The Destructive Battle over Recovery Methods — Introduction

The television commercial shows an ornate building with the appearance of being elaborate hotel.   A booming voice says, “We treat the causes of addiction.  We’re not a twelve step program.”   The scene shifts to a young man, who says “I used to be an addict and now I’m not.”   (If he was an addict, by the ASAM definition, he still is, even if is clean and sober and in recovery).

A representative of a treatment program, when asked about Motivational Interviewing, says “We don’t do that.  It isn’t Twelve Step.”

A representative of an adolescent program says, “You can’t do Twelve Step work with adolescents.”  We believe that people saying that are only describing their own competence.  Competent clinicians can work with adolescents using a Twelve Step approach.

Although we do find refreshing exceptions, for the most part both the treatment “industry” (we don’t like that word for treatment programming but we lack a good alternative) is divided into what seems like two armed camps.   On the one hand we have the twelve step loyalists who claim that anything other than the basics of Twelve Step work is a distraction from becoming and remaining clean and sober.  On the other extreme, we have people who rely on alternative methods who claim that twelve step is religious brainwashing and rarely effective.   They attack each other in what sounds like the worst of negative political advertising.

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Last update November 1, 2014

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