Tag Archives: Recovery Value

Finding The Right Sober Living House

Author Unknown

Sober living facilities are needed to provide a supporting and pro-active healthy transition, allowing you to leave the safety of rehab and enter a less-restrictive living environment while maintaining a focus on recovery. Residents enjoy a less structured atmosphere while developing the tools and skills to sustain sobriety in the “real world.”

While there are many sober living facilities in Florida, you need to make sure the home you choose offers the highest level of care, qualities, and features that support recovery. You should never commit to living at a sober living home without visiting and talking with the owners and residents.

Here are the top five qualities you’ll want to look for in a sober living house:

#1 FARR Certified Residence

Picking a FARR certified residence guarantees that you are in the best possible environment that is regulated with the highest standards. This is a critical decision that affects your recovery. You are faced with an overwhelming amount of decisions each day; many affect your sobriety. You need to know the sober living has a proven structure to assist and support recovery. That’s why it’s so important to find a sober living home that implements a higher level of care…it should also implement rules and regulations, such as mandated curfews and a zero-tolerance drug-free environment.

#2 Safety

Being in a safe environment is an absolute necessity. Look for things like; 24/7 staff, if the entire staff is trained in CPR, do they have an emergency kit in case of an overdose, and a protocol for emergencies. What steps and measures do they have to absolutely make sure there are no drugs or alcohol on the premises? Is there a zero tolerance for possession and use of alcohol and drugs? Check out and speak to the people currently living in a sober living facility. Ask them about the technology and safety measures used by the facility.

#3 Connecting Atmosphere

The camaraderie, atmosphere, mood, energy, and vibe at the sober living house with its current residents are very important. During your tour ask to speak with the current residents, they will be valuable in your decision to pick the right place for you. What types of activities are there to help you develop new skills; assistance with job search, better eating habits, health and fitness. Make sure you feel a positive vibe; your gut will tell you if it is the right place for you.

#4 Supports and Assists Recovery

A solid support system is crucial for anyone in recovery. 12 step recovery is not for everyone, however the sober living should have other actions on and off the property in place like; relapse prevention, AA, NA, and counseling to assist you in recovery. When evaluating a sober living support team, it’s important to find a staff that truly cares about you and your success…but you also want a staff that’s unafraid to enforce necessary rules and regulations.

Everyone’s recovery path is different and proceeds at different paces, however individualized recovery plans are essential for staying sober. The employees should be professional, and be there to keep you on the road to recovery. They should be encouraging 12 step, AA, NA meetings or a support system that fosters sobriety. There should also be some sort of drug testing policy in effect.

#5 Take Responsibility; Own It

Remember, you must own your sobriety. That means that you may not always like following rules and regulations like a curfew, structured events, meetings, etc. You must be willing to do the difficult things to maintain sobriety. The sober living home should challenge you to be able to make that step to be fully functional on your own.

 

College Drinking

By Alta Mira

You started drinking in high school: sneaking beers with friends, raiding your parent’s liquor cabinet, attending (and hosting) well-stocked house parties. By the time you were a senior, you were drinking almost every weekend. You couldn’t wait to get to college and join the Greek life. And this was when the parties really started–every weekend there was some occasion to have a few beers with your brothers or sisters. Eventually you surrounded yourself with a group of like-minded partiers who were on an endless search for the next big binge. Almost anything became a reason to party: first day of classes, holidays, end of exams, obscure president birthdays, sun, snow, or rain. It was a drinking life for you, but you didn’t see a problem with that. You assumed it was just part of the lifestyle, and that it wouldn’t affect you after college. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a temporary thing. For some students, it was a college fad, but for you, it was the opening up of your latent addictive tendencies. Those college days of drinking have stayed with you–and now it’s time to acknowledge your addiction, and seek help for your alcoholism.
It seems obvious that students in Greek societies drink more–and there is ample research backing that up. But just how much more? A recent study showed that between their freshman and senior years, Greek students increased their number of drinks per week from five to eight–compared to an increase from two to three for non-Greek students. So not only are these students drinking over twice as much as non-Greek students, but they’re also increasing their intake more rapidly. This is always dangerous, but for some, it increases the chance of addiction. It opens someone up to a lifestyle that sticks with them. If this growth isn’t curtailed by graduation, where might it lead?
Nowhere good. With the increase in drinking comes a potential increase in negative outcomes.
We’ve all heard about the promising athlete who lost his scholarship due either to underage drinking, illegal activities performed while under the influence, or some freak accident that happened while drunk. And these are only the cases you hear about in the local paper. The effects touch far more students, and research paints a stark picture. Each year in the United States:
◦ Close to 700,000 students are assaulted by another student who has drunk.
◦ Over 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
◦ Close to 600,000 students suffer alcohol-related injuries.
◦ About 25 percent of students experience academic problems due to their drinking.
◦ 150,000 students develop alcohol-related health problems, and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent try to commit suicide.
◦ Almost 5 million students drive drunk, putting themselves and others at risk.
The saddest statistic of all: each year about 1,825 students will die from alcohol-related injuries.
You were one of the 150,000 students who developed an alcohol-related health problem while at college, and your drinking problem has followed you into the present day.
After college, you expected your drinking would slow down–after all, most Greek students are able to cut down their drinking after graduation. However, for you, Greek society was the catalyst for a lifelong addiction. You have realized that drinking has become a part of you, a part you can’t easily leave behind.
So maybe your drinks over lunch to discuss the latest ad campaign turned into two-hour liquid lunches. After-work drinks might have become an almost daily occurrence. Your weekends were a haze of bingeing. Alcohol might have been your escape from a hectic day–until one day, when it went too far. This was the moment when you realized you need help.
Seeking treatment seems like a daunting task. It is. Life or Death.

Letter From You To Your Addiction

Dear __________(his name),
You may be feeling better, but I am out here doing push-ups, getting stronger, smarter, and hiding in your shadow. I miss that warm, fuzzy feeling I would get when you would turn to me in times of despair. I won’t let you get rid of me so easily. We were together for years and suddenly you think you can let go? Nothing was your fault, my friend! It was the cop’s fault for pulling you over. It’s your family’s fault for never understanding what was going on in your head. It was your friends’ fault that they couldn’t accept you for who you are. I am a part of you and will never stop trying to be your beloved again. I enjoyed when you would listen to my every command, acting without hesitation. Why not steal that money from your parents? You are entitled to it. Why not expect others to change the way they live? You are perfectly fine the way you are. Who needs an education with your level of intelligence? I hope you will come back to me soon enough and snap out of this. I will be waiting for you, right by your side, for the rest of your life.
Yours truly,
Addiction

A Recovery Coach Answers Critical Questions

We see so much about addiction in the media and on TV, but many people have a lot of questions about sobriety, what it means and how it will change their lives. Here some answers anyone ready for a change needs to know.

What Is The Point of Sobriety?

Survival. It is a medical fact that long-term alcoholism will result in a shorter more painful life, not just for the abuser but also for those closest to him/her. The point of sobriety is ‘life over death’. Addiction is a chronic progressive disease that, if untreated, will end in death.

What Is Sobriety?

Sobriety is described as the absence of mood altering substances: alcohol, narcotic drugs, pot, non-prescribed pain killers, etc.

What Is The Difference Between Sobriety And Recovery?

We can achieve sobriety by self-willed abstinence. In abstinence we may be successful for short periods of time or indefinitely. The easier and undisciplined way, which is abstinence only, affords a less stressful lack of commitment. It does not involve much self-awareness or inner change.

Recovery is a planned change of lifestyle designed not only to prolong life, but also make it more joyous and free. If the point of sobriety is recovery; then we can have a quality of life with more enjoyment, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance

Questions To Answer When Making A Recovery Plan

We need to know some basic facts before working with a client as a Recovery Coach, the same facts suggested by The Bridge, a publication of the Addiction Treatment Technology Centers. These facts should be used to learn a plan, which the client will write him/herself based on what they have revealed about themselves and other facts of their lifestyle the RC must learn from them:

  1. Full substance abuse history as well as current use
  2. Age, gender, marital status, partner status (sexual activity) and educational status
  3. Occupation & Financial Status
  4. Culture & Ethnicity
  5. Medical, Psychiatric, Psychology and treatment history
  6. Self knowledge of substance abuse
  7. Readiness and Motivation
  8. Spiritual or Religious beliefs and activity
  9. Personal-finances, job, housing, family, support

Are There Alternatives to 12-Step Programs?

Yes. Some people are not comfortable in the beginning of their recovery journey with the 12-step approach, but may come to it later in recovery. Those who dislike the AA approach are especially vulnerable to relapse, as there may be no other place to go for ongoing support. But alternatives do exist and include the following:

• Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART)
• A women’s group called WFS
• SOS a self-help program that does not include spirituality
• Life Ring
• Moderation Management

There are many ways to change your life, but certain basic skills and patterns of behavior need be learned for any of them to be successful. Most addicts don’t have those skills, or have not used them in so long that they need someone like a Recovery Coach, especially if they don’t go to AA meetings, to get them back on track.
See Spotlight on Marc Dunn and find him at www.marcjdunn.com

Recovery and Sobriety

by Marc Dunn

Much is being written about addiction and recovery, many doctors and scientists are weighing in with their researched studies, and addiction counselors are adding their experiences to the onslaught of information. Occasionally an ex-addict or person in recovery will rush to the defense of whatever program it was that did or did not work for them.

As a recovering alcoholic/addict I am disturbed by the lack of perspective and first hand knowledge leading the discussions.

A new dynamic that has been introduced with more zeal lately is the elimination of addiction through medication. Not new in the sense it has never been tried but that it is the new cure. The opinion among those seeking a non-12 Step cure is that religion plays to big a role in 12 Step Programs and that scientists have developed medications that if taken as prescribed can cure addiction. One of the offshoots of this approach is that some are better off with a life of moderation rather than total abstinence.

The disease of addiction is a gradual deteriorative affliction that devastates entire families and will continue to do so unless the addict member takes action to live a life of sobriety: physically and mentally. It affects the person who is addicted, that person’s family and everyone who interacts with that person.

Consider the following just about alcohol addiction (similar facts exists about all addictions):
• Alcohol dependence and abuse cost the US approximately $220 billion in 2005. For the sake of comparison, this was greater than the amount of money spent to combat cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion).
• An estimated 43% of US adults have had someone related to them who is presently, or was, an alcoholic.
• 6.6 million Minors in the US live with an alcoholic mother or father.
• About 24 million US residents battle an alcohol addiction in a recovery program
• Greater than 50% of grownups in the US have had knowledge of someone in their immediate family with an alcohol problem.
• Around a quarter of all children experience some form of alcoholism in their families before they turn 18
• 40% of alcoholism is passed down through the gene pool, while the other 60% stems from unknown circumstances.
• 500,000 US Children ages 9-12 are addicted to alcohol.
• Studies show that the offspring of alcoholics have a greater chance of becoming alcoholics themselves than those whose parents are clean.

It is generally conceded by medical people who even patients seeking a strictly medication cure need a therapy, and only a select few can moderate their drinking for a lengthy period without relapsing into addiction. Another reason that gives rise to this discussion is the small number of people who recover in any treatment programs.

Medication as a cure for addiction is not new; it dates back to ancient times including our own 19th & 20th century flirtations with morphine, Valium, steroids and LSD. Even within the last 50 years doctors prescribed barbiturates and benzodiazepines for withdrawal symptoms. This often led to a new addiction or multi-addictions.

There are now three new drugs being used to break down alcohol and make it less effective, physically repugnant, cut hangovers and to block the receptors in the brain that create the pleasure from drinking/drugging. The data suggest that these medications do reduce the amount of drinking /drugging done by those taking them.

For those of us who are addicts there are two different ways of life: sobriety and/or recovery. All of us with the disease/mental health condition of addiction know this to be fact. We have lived it and can tell the differences.

What is the difference between sobriety and recovery?

Strictly speaking sobriety is the absence of mood altering substances: alcohol, narcotic drugs, pot, non-prescribed pain killers, etc. Sobriety with recovery is much more; it includes lifestyle not just abstinence.

The point of sobriety is life over death. We can make it by self-willed abstinence, the easier and undisciplined way, affording a less stressful lack of commitment, or by the action of recovery, a planned change of lifestyle designed to prolong life and make it more joyous and free. It is a medical fact that long-term alcoholism will result in a shorter more painful life, not just for the abuser but also for those closest to him/her. In abstinence we may be successful for short periods of time or indefinitely. But if the point of sobriety is recovery; then we are searching for a quality of life that includes peaceful happiness, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance, freedom and peace.

The first time I tried to stop drinking for more than a few days or weeks, it was by attending AA meetings and being stubbornly abstinent. I did it to get everyone off my back. My wife had threatened to divorce me and I thought this was the way to lessen the incessant feeling of being scrutinized every time I picked up a drink, which was often. It lasted about 3 years and I got nothing. My life did not get any better. It was a conniving attempt on my part to seem to be better. I would listen to old timers speaking of recovery and burglarize their conversations, repeating what I had heard as if they were my thoughts, pretending to have found some spirituality. It didn’t work.

I was out to dinner after about 30 months and without any premeditation said, “ It’s been 2 ½ years since I had a drink, I can probably have one with dinner.” The naïve responses were, “That’s great.” I was off and running for 6 months. The end came when I totaled my car in a blackout on the interstate, in the middle of the afternoon. Miraculously, I walked away without hurting myself or anyone else. My next step was to try recovery not abstinence. I found that they were compatible and my life could be better.

Addiction is a disease if left untreated has a predictable end, premature death. Addiction was defined as a disease by Dr. William Silkworth in the 1930’s and continues to be recognized as a disease of the mind or mental illness by the AMA and SAMSHA. This is commonly called the disease model, and is 100% part of all 12 Step programs and most treatment centers.

These reports and opinions lead to the conclusion that there may be medication to cut the effects of alcohol/drugs and even repulse the user from using them but they do nothing to change the mental health issues an addict faces. Those issues will drive him/her out again once they either stop taking the medication or just impulsively decide to use.

Addiction is more than a physical obsession and the alcohol/drug is only a symptom. Treating the symptom does not cure the disease.

There is a need for diversity of approaches to recovery; knowledge of cultural differences, mental health issues, fitness and nutrition well-being are all instrumental to being successful. The point is to open the door to a discussion of supplemental types of recovery help that may be available. If it is, as it seems to be, that medication, religious programs, addiction treatment centers and 12 Step Programs alone don’t work for everyone, what are the alternative solutions? What solutions are there for those who repetitively relapse because of their drug and/or alcohol addiction?

It is clear more than ever that no one program is for everyone. One avenue that needs to be explored is including alternative combinations of medication, therapy and spirituality. If we believe that the recovery solution must include a healing of the mind and spirit, then therapy and spiritual seeking is a must.

If 12 Step programs alone are not for everyone and people do get sober without them, what are the alternatives? It is also important to note that forcing a 12 Step program on someone from the onset may trigger a rebelliousness that precludes him or her from ever trying (which they may want to do after some time sober, as the fog begins to clear). One of the things we haven’t done very well in working with those seeking help is updating our approaches from the way they were done 50-75 years ago. It may sound like heresy, but the world has changed drastically; medical approaches are different and better. Much more is known about mental health and addiction as well as the treatment of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. They have certainly changed with improved results. Why would you go see a doctor today that was still examining and diagnosing you based on information he learned in the 1950’s? You wouldn’t.

The point is that there are other ways to change an addict’s life, but certain basic skills and patterns of behavior need to be learned for any of them to be successful. Most addicts don’t have those skills, or have not used them in so long that they need a change of lifestyle.

Recovery from addiction to alcohol and/or drugs is not easy. Most people do not succeed and the concept that one way works for everyone is outdated. The approach and implementation need to be multifaceted, there is not a one size fits all that works universally. Abstinence methods, and various forms of it, have been applied to recovery for more than 100 years in this country and our success rates are only moderately improved.

The Journal of the American Medical Association stated in its 2000 edition, “40-60 percent of people treated for alcohol or drug dependence relapse within a year after discharge.” And, if the anecdotal stories, are true,”80-90% of the people who show up at 12 Step fellowship meetings disappear after 6-12 months.”

Sadly the research about drug and alcohol addiction and our youth is even more disheartening. Research shows that anti-drug campaigns and school programs that focus on the dangers of drug use have not worked, and may even trigger experimentation. For parents and the nation, the facts are terrifying. 30% of teens regularly use marijuana, alcohol, and pills. 15% are addicted in high school. That means 15 out of every 100 high school students are at risk for death before their 20th birthday. And the numbers rise when students enter college.

The enormity of the problems addicts experience, both physically and mentally, and the quantity of human beings who have this disease has grown much over the last decade. As we understand more about it and learn the devastating long-term effect on the family as well, it is more urgent to get the message to as many as possible. If we are to arrest this disease and prevent it from further debilitating of our families we must take action. We can stop the spread of addiction within our own families. It can end with us. What greater gift could we give our children?

My daughter wrote the following about kids her age discussing their ”thing” because everyone has a “thing”, She would ask, “What’s wrong with you, tell me in three words what’s your deal”. She heard them say, “my parents are divorced”, “and my childhood sweetheart died “or” I was raped in college”. My daughter responded to her own question, “Alcoholic, addict father.”

Adult Children of Addicts have had their peace of mind stolen from them. If we are to approach addiction as a health issue and look for solutions to end the cycle of destruction it has caused for centuries then we need to look beyond abstinence, we need to look at the persons and their families that are suffering and seek multi-faceted solutions. Everyone will be better served if they are better educated about the benefits of recovery not just abstinence. The health and the health of loved ones, mental, physical and spiritual, will improve long-term and there will be less of loss of lives and more peace of mind.

We are on the precipice of a revolution of the mind, body and spirit and by becoming the faces and voices of people in recovery we can share a quality of life that includes peaceful happiness, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance, freedom and peace.

Why Is AA OK?

By Joe Nowinski
Yes, there is science behind the 12-step model. Dr. Joe Nowinski, author of “If You Work It, It Works: The Science Behind 12 Step Recovery” lays it out.
My first exposure to the 12-step model took place in the mid-1980s, when I held the position of Director of Student Health Services at the University of Connecticut. At the time, the university was experiencing (as it unfortunately continues to) a virtual epidemic of heavy drinking among students. Along with the drinking came its usual consequences: accidents, fights, emergency room visits and rapes—not to mention a number of academic flameouts directly attributable to chronic drinking. In my earlier graduate training in clinical psychology, I’d been steeped heavily in the cognitive-behavioral approach, which was then in its ascendance, along with some supervision in existential and psychoanalytic therapy during my internship. Needless to say, there was nothing particularly spiritual about any of these approaches. Having decided it would be good for me to learn more about addiction and its treatment, I asked the head of the university’s alcohol education program about possible training programs and was immediately referred to the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. At the time, Hazelden offered a unique training experience for professionals like me: we were embedded on an actual rehab unit for seven days. We participated in all of the activities that the patients did. The only differences were that the other men on my unit knew I was a psychologist in training, and our small group met twice a day for seminars to discuss various aspects of the Hazelden program.
The biggest shock for me, though, came on the day of my arrival when four fellow trainees and I were ushered into a small conference room. On the table in front of each of us was a small pile of books: Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and Living Sober, all published by AA. I’d never seen, much less read any of them. Then I looked up at a large poster on the wall. It was the 12 steps. My eye was immediately caught by the word God that appeared there a number of times, and my gut reaction was something like, “Oh no! I’m a cognitive-behavioral therapist! I don’t believe in God!”
The next week proved to be eye-opening, to say the least. I took my turn doing assigned chores on the unit, went to two AA meetings a day, shared meals with the other men, and sat in on self-led groups where they openly shared their experiences of loss, of harm done to others, of grief, abuse, and abandonment. And I began to see, more so than in the group therapy model I’d been taught, the healing power of honesty, acceptance, and group support.
A few years later, I left UConn to create and supervise adult and adolescent treatment programs in a psychiatric hospital. That experience led to my first book on the subject of addiction, entitled, Substance Abuse in Adolescents and Young Adults, published by W. W. Norton in 1990, and based on the 12-step model. Then, shortly afterward, I was invited to meet with a group of researchers at Yale, who told me that they were about to embark on a national clinical trial comparing different treatment approaches to alcoholism. They were frank in telling me that their own biases were with the cognitive-behavioral approach (CBT), as well as a new and emerging approach: motivational enhancement therapy or MET. They told me that they merely needed a 12-step based approach as a comparison to these treatment approaches and expected that it would pale in comparison. Having read my book, they asked me if I’d be willing to sign on to develop that treatment, and train and supervise the therapists who would be applying this 12-step based therapy to men and women who would be randomly assigned to it. This research, dubbed Project MATCH, proved to be the largest psychotherapy outcome study ever conducted. Since then, I have been more or less continuously involved in clinical research in the area of alcohol and drug abuse treatment and have remained aware of other research on the 12-step model. As it turns out, there has been a great deal of rigorous research done in the past two decades on this model, for two reasons. First, the Institute of Medicine issued a white paper in 1989 calling for such research. Second—and much to many people’s surprise—the 12-step treatment used in Project MATCH (Twelve Step Facilitation or TSF) worked! In fact, as William R. Miller, the principal creator of motivational enhancement therapy wrote: “On at least one time-honored outcome measure—the percentage of patients maintaining complete abstinence—those in the Twelve Step Facilitation treatment fared significantly better than did patients in the other two conditions—a substantial advantage of about 10 percentage points that endured across three years.”
Although a significant body of research on the 12-step model followed in the aftermath of MATCH, critics of the approach went into high gear. AA and its 12 steps are regularly accused of being either ineffectual or downright harmful. The MATCH results have been dismissed (despite effective rebuttals from the likes of Drs. Miller and John Kelly of Harvard), and AA itself has been dismissed as an international cult that brainwashes its members. And all the while individuals like myself, who had a different opinion, were left without much of a voice, first because AA itself follows a strict policy of staying out of public controversy, and second because the evidence in support of the 12-step model has remained essentially buried in professional, peer-reviewed journals.
Roughly two years ago, following a series of discussions with colleagues about this dilemma, I got a call from my editor at Hazelden. He asked me if I was up for a major project, which would be to “translate” much of the research on the 12-step model so as to make it accessible both to the general public and to clinicians who may not be steeped in research and its interpretation. It would be a vehicle that would enable clinicians, as well as those dealing with alcohol and drug problems, to make informed decisions as to what to do. It was an opportunity I could not pass by, and the result is If You Work It, It Works: The Science Behind 12 Step Recovery.
The evidence in support of 12-step recovery is substantial and growing. The effectiveness of
Other research has looked at what we might call the “dynamics” of 12-step recovery, or the role that different components might play. It’s been found, for example, that:
· Identifying oneself as a “member” of AA, as opposed to simply attending meetings, is associated with improved sobriety.
· Becoming involved in AA (getting a sponsor, reading AA materials, making AA friends) leads to improved sobriety.
Getting a sponsor early (within three months) is better than getting one later.
· Choosing to seek treatment of some form while simultaneously beginning AA involvement leads to better results – even 16 years later.
· Choosing to attend between 100 and 150 AA meetings a year is associated with better sobriety (up to 75%) even five years after making that decision.
· Attending AA meetings regularly are associated with becoming more spiritual (though not religious) over time (as opposed to spiritual people being drawn to AA from the outset).
· Adding one or two non-drinking friends to your social network can help support sobriety, but not nearly as much as attending AA meetings regularly.
All of the above findings and more have been documented through carefully conducted research. Moreover, this research has not been conducted by individuals who set out with an agenda of proving the efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous; by and large these studies have been conducted at major research universities. They have gone through extensive peer review in order to be funded, and again in order to be published. For those who would like to verify that, they are all listed in the appendix of my book. I would encourage skeptics to check them out.
As the saying goes, some people refuse to let facts stand in the way of their opinions. Despite all of the evidence, there are those who continue to claim that AA is unproven and even causes harm (to the point of suicide). Then, there is the strange criticism that AA only works for those who “work it” and that this is a miniscule number of people. Miniscule? In comparison to what? The total population? All those who have alcohol or drug problems? As for AA working only for those who choose to work it, psychologist Thomas McClellan, in a personal communication, as well as others, has pointed out that roughly 40 to 50% of individuals with chronic medical conditions do not adhere well to recommended treatments. They take prescribed medications sporadically, or not at all. They do not lose weight, change their diet, or exercise as recommended. The result: their condition continues or worsens, and they have to go back for treatment two or three times. In that same vein, every therapist who treats substance abuse knows clients who have given AA a half-hearted try at best. Why do critics infer from this that medical treatments and AA are ineffective, as opposed to drawing the much more obvious conclusion that any treatment that is not adhered to will not succeed?
With respect to the criticisms that 12-step programs are not run by professionals, vary widely with respect to membership and format, and can potentially expose members to toxic, as well as healing, relationships with untrained sponsors, all of this is obviously true. But these are elements common to all self-help programs and are unavoidable. And yet, critics of 12-step programs conveniently ignore an essential fact, which is that all of these elements are obviously accounted for in the research data! When the dust settles on the entire universe of evidence, the research consistently demonstrates that participation in these programs is of significant benefit. A group of prominent researchers, after surveying the research, published the following joint statement in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment:
Because longitudinal studies associate self-help group involvement with reduced substance use, improved psychosocial functioning, and lessened healthcare costs, there are humane and practical reasons to develop self-help group supportive policies.
Alcoholics Anonymous is not the only fellowship that supports abstinence as a solution to a severe alcohol or drug abuse problem. Others include:
· Women for Sobriety
· Secular Organizations for Sobriety
· SMART Recovery
· Double Trouble in Recovery (for the dually-diagnosed)

AA has been selected as the supportive fellowship in research because it is ubiquitous. Given their shared goals and the commonalities between these approaches, I see no reason to doubt that the outcomes associated with AA would not apply equally to those who would choose these alternate fellowships. As a Clinical Psychologist, I am a firm believer in the efficacy of evidence-based treatments, including and especially psychotherapy, for substance use disorders; as a researcher and scientist, I am a firm believer in the literature that convincingly demonstrates that participation in 12-step programs is evidence-based as well, and a valuable part of any recovery plan.

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