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Treatment Doesn't Work

Modern medicine despite or because of its always increasing scientific understanding still finds itself having to endure paradigm shifts as prior “myths “ are exposed as untruths or experience reveals mistaken beliefs about effectiveness or safety of a particular treatment, surgery or medication. Sometimes change is slow and medical practitioners tend to hold on to old beliefs due to an inherent conservative attitude, intellectual stubbornness, continued reliance on anecdotal experience and even at times profit motivation.

Such is the case with alcohol and drug treatment providers. There are no verifiable studies that show that treating drug and alcohol problems with group therapy, counseling, or any other psychological based treatment is effective. Nor are there any verifiable studies that support the use of medications such as Antabuse or Methadone. Studies of both psychological and medical based treatments showing 20% to 30% success rates at one year post treatment are observing the same results that kept bloodletting in use as a treatment for disease for nearly two millennium. For a period of 1800+ years treatment providers were convinced that “bloodletting worked.” But the truth was bloodletting did not work; in fact, some patients actually died as a result of the therapy. But those who did recover following the bloodletting treatment recovered because the natural history of their problem was one of spontaneous recovery. The recoveries were actually brought about by the human immune system. These people would have recovered with or without bloodletting, and in certain cases, it is likely that the recoveries would have been speedier without the bloodletting treatment. Nonetheless these recoveries became the basis for the claim and the 1800+ years belief that “bloodletting worked.” The claim, then, that the bloodletting treatment worked was not based on research or scientific method but on anecdotal experience, which is, more often than not, misleading. Bloodletting, except for a few conditions such as polycythemia and congestive heart failure, did not work. And today, with the one exception being polycythemia, no responsible care provider would employ bloodletting as a treatment for disease.

Reminiscent of bloodletting, the popular treatment for drug and alcohol problems utilizing psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, other psychological methods, counseling, group therapy and medication is equally ineffective. These methods of treatment did not become popular based on convincing research, but rather the methods were implemented based on anecdotal experience. The anecdotal experience originated during the time prior to formalized treatment programs for alcohol and drug problems. At that time, alcoholic and drug users who expressed a desire to get treatment or who were forced into treatment by family or society were sent to mental hospitals. In these mental hospitals alcoholics and drug addicts were provided essentially the same treatment as the other patients. This treatment by the mental hospitals became the “de facto standard” treatment for drug and alcohol problems, not because it worked, but because no other hospitals at the time would admit patients with a diagnosis of drug or alcohol problems.

The good news is that the paradigm shift towards solutions is speeding up. Today, we have educational programs that are effective. For more information about the social/educational model that has proven success, you can contact the Saint Jude Retreats at 1.888.424.2626.

For more information on your state, please click below. For questions or immediate help call 1.888.424.2626.

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