Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Addiction Treatment: Who is the Client?

The Overselling of Drug Rehab.

Professor David Clark, who runs the Wired In recovery website in the U.K., recently posted several passages from William L. White's "Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America."

According to Professor Clark, "In highlighting [these quotes] on my Blog, I am not questioning the value of treatment. However, I am providing a word of caution to those who are trying to tell 'society' that the government-led treatment system is successful and is a panacea to some of society's problems."

Among the observations from White's book:

Who is the client?

"Addiction treatment swings back and forth between a technology of personal transformation and a technology of coercion. When the latter dominates, counselors become, not helpers, but behavioral police. The fact that today’s treatment institutions often serve more than one master has created the ethical dilemma of “double agentry,” wherein treatment staff profess allegiance to the interests of the individual client, while those very interests may be compromised by the interests of other parties to whom the institution has pledged its loyalty.’

--White, p. 335.

On blaming

"Harold Hughes, the political Godfather of the modern alcoholism treatment system, often noted that alcoholism was the only disorder in which the patient was blamed when treatment failed.... For decades many addicts have been subjected to treatment interventions that had almost no likelihood of success; and when that success has indeed failed to materialize, the source of that failure has been attributed, not to the intervention, but to the addicts’ recalcitrance and lack of motivation. The issue is, not just that such mismatches do not work, but that such mismatches generate their own iatrogenic effects via increased client passivity, helplessness, hopelessness and dependence."

--White, p. 331.

Historical tendency to oversell what treatment can achieve

"The overselling of the ways in which addiction treatment could benefit the home, the workplace, the school, the criminal justice system, and the broader community during the 1970s and 1980s sparked a subsequent backlash. When time - the ultimate leveller – began to expose the fact that these benefits were not forthcoming at the level promised, a rising pessimism fueled the shift toward increased criminalization of addiction."

--White, p. 338

Photo Credit: Cliffside Malibu

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