Category: Opinion Piece

Barriers to Effective Treatment

Addiction treatment today is largely ineffective. Some even call it a “rip-off” because of the cost for so little good that is achieved. It is like putting band aids on terrible wounds. There are five big reasons why it does so little good.

(1) There is no nationally accepted definition of “addiction” or of “recovery”. As a result, treatment providers make up their own definitions, most of which do not even include abstinence as a goal.

(2) The National Institute on Drug Abuse declares that addiction is a “relapsing disorder” and many treatment providers tell their clients that. The result is addicts in treatment get the message that they are expected to relapse and it isn’t their fault, therefore they are not responsible for doing anything to maintain recovery. The implication is that they should just return for another treatment stay.

(3) The length of treatment is determined by the insurance industry. Programs are designed around what insurance will pay for instead of what people need.

(4) The professionals providing addiction treatment are not well trained. The accrediting authorities for graduate degrees in psychology and social work do not require any courses on Substance Use Disorders or addiction. A research study found that 94% of doctors could not correctly diagnose alcoholism when presented with a list of its signs and symptoms.¹

(5) Treatment providers focus on getting client-addicts to comply with rules instead of facilitating a clinical surrender or letting go of their willfulness and insistence they can control their addiction. Compliance is just going along with what others want and not addressing the addiction itself.

D. R. Osborne, Jr.’s forthcoming book You Can’t Fall Out of a Hole: Ripping the Band Aid Off of Our Addiction Epidemic details these problems and what we as a society must do to combat our #1 health and social problem. Learn what you can do to help yourself or someone you care about who struggles with alcoholism or drug addiction.

¹Physician Education in Addiction Medicine, Evan Wood, MD, Jeffrey Samet, MD and Nora Volkow, MD. Journal of the American Medical Association. October, 2013.