Ever notice the seemingly daily barrage of articles, papers, studies, blogs, op-ed pieces producing an increasing crescendo against 12 step treatment programs and AA. Have you read that the whole concept of alcohol and drug rehab is flawed and not supported by evidence? Ever listened to the gripe that alcohol and chemical dependency treatment is the only area in medicine in which prayer is used?
Do you know how long these same complaints have been lodged while the 12 step model of treatment has been used in conjunction with AA and successfully treated people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction?
The answer is longer than the age of most of the people complaining that it doesn’t work. Why is that? Is there something new afoot? Is there a new treatment now that works better than the 12 step model? Has the 12 step model stopped working? Did it ever work?
I suspect that without the veneer of anonymity an epidemiological study could be done to find out how many people have been treated by 12 step programs and remain sober today. Conversely, a similar study could be done to find out how many have been unsuccessful.
There are people who have gone through 12 step programs and are sober since their discharge. There are a lot of these people. They walk among us every day as mothers, fathers, priests, doctors, nurses, lawyers, painters, laborers, truck drivers. You get the idea.
Is everyone successful with 12 step programs? Sadly, no. This doesn’t mean they don’t work. Today everyone looks for a guaranteed fix. There is no guaranteed fix. There is no silver bullet.
All of the new fixes bandied about fail to tell people that this is a disease that remains with them the rest of their life. Regardless of the treatment methodology used, they will need to work their programs on a daily basis.
This doesn’t mean that 12 step programs can’t incorporate new ideas. Every program should reflectively look to better itself.
Robert Piccone, M.S. | President | Clearbrook Treatment Centers