I read an interesting blog post in the New York Times this morning by Dr. Mark Willenbring. Here's the question and answer that piqued my interest:
"Q: Why aren’t patients being told of the medical options available to them in addition to AA/rehab? Is it ignorance of doctors? Lingering stigma that alcoholics are somehow “bad” and their only solution is to admit their powerlessness and find a higher power? No other disease relies on meetings in church basements for its primary treatment. I’m a recovering alcoholic who attends AA meetings and takes Campral. Not one AA’er I’ve met thus far has heard of Campral. It has been a tremendous help to me and it’s too bad that it’s not being used more, especially as it relates to reducing relapses. Cew5x
The type of treatment offered at more than 90 percent of treatment programs in the United States consists of group counseling and referral to community support groups provided by non-medical staff. This treatment model was developed about 50 years ago, and it represented a real advance at the time.
However, the treatment field has not kept up with scientific advances in either behavioral or medication treatment. For example, it is about as difficult to obtain high quality cognitive-behavioral therapy for alcohol dependence as it is medication therapy. This is likely to change eventually, but for the time being, people seeking treatment for themselves or loved ones need to be informed “consumers.” Insisting on access to high-quality, scientifically-based care is one way to help drive system change."
What I find interesting about this are a number of things. First and foremost, why haven't we, as an addiction treatment field, continued with the progress seen in other areas of medicine? Since addiction is recognized as a disease, we should be taking advantage of all scientific advantages availed to us. I find it interesting that we are so resistant to change, and that for 50 years we've done basically the same thing in treatment. What is ALSO very interesting is the RESISTANCE to change. It's hard to find a treatment program that is consistent in adopting new methodologies for addressing the brain and medical issues associated with addiction. Within the industry, there is almost a stigma associated with medication in the treatment process.
Why aren't we using every tool available to combat a disease that directly affects 10 percent of our population and countless numbers of family members?
The other point is that a 12-step program works, when instituted and practiced diligently. However, what we've seen with alcoholics and addicts is that a relapse can often completely derail the recovery train. With the help of certain medications and medical knowledge, combined with therapy, support network and 12 step work, our chances of seeing a full and complete recovery should vastly improve. I can only hope that we start to see this before we lose more people.
Here's a video of Dr. Mark Hillenbring:
Here's something funny.
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