A Different Path to Fighting Addiction

NEW YORK TIMES: ….And unlike programs like Al-Anon, A.A.’s offshoot for family members, the C.M.C.’s approach does not advocate interventions or disengaging from someone who is drinking or using drugs. “The traditional language often sets parents up to feel they have to make extreme choices: Either force them into rehab or detach until they hit rock bottom,” said Carrie Wilkens, a psychologist who helped found the C.M.C. 10 years ago. “Science tells us those formulas don’t work very well.”…

A 2002 study conducted by researchers at the University of New Mexico and published in the journal Addiction showed that motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy and naltrexone, which are often used together, are far more effective in stopping or reducing drug and alcohol use than the faith-and-abstinence-based model of A.A. and other “TSF” — for 12-step facilitation — programs. Results of an updated study have not yet been released.

Researchers elsewhere have come up with similar findings. In 2006, the Cochrane Library, a health care research group, reviewed four decades of global alcohol treatment studies and concluded, “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems.” Despite that research, A.A.’s 12-step model is by far the dominant approach to addiction in America… (more)

EDITOR: This is new to us. We are asking Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts to research and report on the matter.



  1. Robert,

    It sounds to me like these folks at CMC have the right idea, a mix of approaches rather than a one-size-fits-all philosophy.

    A new subsection in the Treatment chapter is in order.

    Rather than bury it under “effectiveness”, I’ll add a subsection – possibly titled “Comparison of Various Treatment Modalities” – to the first or “basic data” section. All treatment is not created equal, and I need to be more thorough in explaining that.



  2. Current treatment systems don’t work very well for everyone, as the drug war winds down there will be more room for other approaches. We need them desperately.

    Forms of treatment like ‘heroin assisted treatment’ which makes heroin available to users who then can focus on fixing other part of their lives is one example. When we start applying harm reduction concepts to treatment, without drug war extremism, I suspect better approaches will be developed.

    Kevin Zeese

  3. Agreed – maybe we can include that side of the story alongside discussions of treatment .

    Ernest Drucker, Ph D

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