Do the Trends in the Addiction Field Need to Change?
The greatest focus in the treatment of addiction is on 12-Step models, which have been proven to work for thousands upon thousands of people. 12-Step programs, however, are not treatment. As John Grab says, “treatment is treatment and recovery is recovery.”
John himself is a person in recovery and his recovery consists of abstinence and a 12-Step fellowship, so believes wholeheartedly in the 12-Step program. It’s worked for him and he knows it’s worked for thousands of others. Treatment and recovery are two different things, however, and the success of treatment is too often being gauged by the 12-Step guidelines of recovery.
Treatment vs. Recovery
12-Step recovery plainly states that abstinence does not equal recovery. They are separate things, even though treatment tends to gauge success by abstinence. Is the addict still clean? Are they still sober? Are they in a 12-Step fellowship? Are they still doing all the things that are required of them by the fellowship? These are the guidelines by which successful treatment is often gauged.
This is certainly not the only way to look at the matter and it might be time to broaden the perspective on treatment and recovery. Most importantly, it may be time to reevaluate how we look at the treatment of those who suffer from Substance Use Disorders, as they are now known as today.
In a sense, treatment is a cumulative effort of mental, social, psychological, physical, and psychiatric wholeness. As such, there’s a lot more to treatment than just abstinence or 12-Step programs. There’s more that needs to be looked at in order to gain a better understanding of what is happening to these people and how to treat them.
One of the curious aspects of treatment, namely in the 12-Step programs, is that it often treats addiction like a spiritual malady, when addiction is just as much a medical condition. Addiction has been called a disease, even termed a disease by the American Medical Association, but is often being treated with a spiritual solution, which most of the time involves recovering from an addiction through God.
That’s not to say the 12-Step programs aren’t an invaluable part of the treatment process, since they most certainly are. However, that being said, it would likely benefit patients if treatment were looked at with a wider perspective. After all, the goal is to give patients the best opportunity possible for them to experience long-term recovery.