Monday, February 15, 2016

Addiction Treatment

Someone recently asked me about the Medical Model of Addictions versus the 12-Step Model.  I asked them to give me some time to ponder.  After going to school to get a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and over 30 years in the addiction field, it is hard to answer that question easily or quickly.  I will say that my views and practices have certainly evolved over the past 30 years.

I believe in the 12 steps for recovery from addictions. I think the belief you can be "cured" is dangerous. But the critics say believing you can't be cured is discouraging. That said, I do not believe one size fits all. A thorough evaluation and individualized plan is what is considered "Best Practices" today. Not everybody needs inpatient and not everybody benefits from 12-step meetings; although I usually recommend twelve step meetings and explore reasons why, if someone is resistant. My favorite expert, Dr. Mee-Lee is at UC-Davis.  The link is for his blog.
Why do I think that the idea you can be "cured" is dangerous?  Because it assumes the addict is just like everybody else.  There is evidence that the brain of addicts is different, thereby making this a brain disease, and yes, it is a disease.  Alcohol and other mind-altering chemicals react differently in an addict's brain.  Yes, with therapy, medication, program of recovery, things can get better.  My question is always, "Why would you want to take that risk (try to drink alcohol or take other drugs "socially") with something that has caused you so much pain, caused you to lose so much?" (insert whatever consequences the addict has suffered.)   

Discussion to Be Continued