Health & Medical Self-Improvement

Why Rock the Boat in Addiction Recovery?

Some have asked why it is important to put out a thought on recovery that is in direct opposition to what is currently believed in the drug and alcohol addiction recovery field.
Some feel if people don't believe addiction is a disease they won't get help.
Why not just go with the status quo? Isn't the system we currently have sufficient enough to deal with the problems of drug and alcohol addiction recovery? I do not agree.
Currently, retention rates of AA have been shown to be around 5%-10%.
In addiction recovery treatment many counselors will give you about a 10% to 30% success rate for drug or alcohol addiction recovery.
Some would argue that the reason for these poor results is due to the disease itself: that the disease is difficult to overcome, there is denial, or the person has not hit bottom yet to be motivated enough to change.
They would argue for more in depth addiction recovery treatment, more consequences, and tighter controls.
Yet, Project MATCH showed that addiction recovery treatment obtained the greatest results when it was brief, motivational, and individualized.
In fact brief interventions get as good or better results than the current treatment practices.
Finally, of those people who succeed in AA or treatment, it has been shown that the majority were already motivated to change when they entered addiction recovery.
In other words, motivation of the alcohol or drug user to stop is more important than the actual programs or counseling techniques.
I have been asked if I thought that taking away the disease of drug or alcohol addiction would only encourage people to drink or use drugs.
That the disease concept is needed to let people know they cannot keep using drugs or alcohol or face death.
This is a fear tactic and it does not work.
If it did, our current addiction recovery system would not lose or exclude the majority of those seeking drug or alcohol addiction recovery help.
Do people need to fear to remain sober? Some would argue, "yes.
" Talk to a current outpatient program and they will tell you the majority of their clients remain sober for six months to a year.
Most of these clients are court ordered to attend treatment and would rather attend therapy than sit in jail.
But what about long term change? Recidivism is high, and relapse is accepted.
What does this say about effectiveness of treatment? Current addiction recovery treatment is not working.
The majority of those who quit, quit on their own.
They did not give up their will to a disease, but took personal responsibility for their behavior.
But, what about those who are finding it difficult to stop drinking or using drugs? I do not believe that because some cannot or will not stop that it must be a disease.
The purpose of the disease concept is to justify behavior we cannot understand.
I would venture that most professionals in the addiction recovery field would agree.
Why do I say this? Because, moral inventories, amends, character defects, and different clinical therapies would be silly if addiction was purely a disease.
Making amends or exploring childhood resentments would do little to eliminate something like cancer.
What would be more effective is to teach the person the power of choice and empowerment in choosing coping responses to lead a more fulfilled life.
So, my goal is to offer an alternative view of drug and alcohol addiction recovery.
I would like to replace the fear of disease with the empowerment of choice.
If someone chooses to continue using alcohol or drugs, it will not be because they are diseased, but because they have not been convinced they can successfully live life without alcohol or drugs.

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