Traveling Psychotherapy and AA’s Dual Road To Addiction Recovery
Is There Truly a One-Size-Fits-All Solution to Addiction?
Every person is unique. We at Conscious Recovery by CLARE believe treating each person as an individual is key to one’s success. While 12-step programs, like the prolific Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, can be tremendously successful in supporting one’s recovery from addiction, Conscious Recovery by CLARE believes an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach sets a person up for a stronger chance of long-term success. We think the 12-steps are an important component to addiction recovery. But for many, they alone are not enough.
We believe the more connection and support a person with a drug or alcohol addiction has, the stronger their chance of long-term recovery success. It is important to address all of the issues addiction touches including emotional, physical, nutritional and spiritual components in the individual and within the family.
A recent Washington Post article touted a clinical trial conducted in the 1990’s by Project MATCH purporting, “twelve-step facilitation was as effective as the best psychotherapies professionals had developed.”
We felt it necessary to respond. The article draws powerful conclusions but leaves out important details about the research parameters and methodology, patient profiles, and the proven effectiveness of an integrated, coordinated 12-step/professional psychotherapy approach.
First, It is important we acknowledge that Conscious Recovery by CLARE values the community and principles of 12-step programs. We also understand that for many, its spiritual component is equally healing. But we do think for many, 12-step programs alone are not enough and challenge the article on these 3 key points:
1. Research in the article doesn’t address length of sobriety of those who participated in the study.
2. Trial duration also makes results questionable. Although experts agree that long-term drug testing is needed to accurately assess results, subjects in the Project MATCH study were surveyed at three-month intervals over just a year’s time. A year is a great start, but how about five or ten or twenty? What happens then?
3. Chronic relapse was also not taken into consideration. Someone relying solely on a 12-step program who continues to relapse may be suffering from an untreated, co-occurring mental health disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse “Many people who are addicted to drugs are also diagnosed with other mental disorders and vice versa. For example, compared with the general population, people with drug addiction are roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, with the reverse also true.” It is well established that professional psychotherapy in conjunction with AA, NA or other similar programs is the way to address both.
Nicholas Vrataric, Executive Director at Conscious Recovery, a program of CLARE Foundation, explains, “We need to remember that 12-step programs are not treatment. In them, you’re not necessarily going to find someone who is an expert in all the issues you need to deal with. The professional help we need is simply not always available in a 12-step program. Sometimes we need to reach out beyond to get that help.” He points out that CLARE Foundation and its programs like Conscious Recovery are rooted in the 12-step principles, but also provide mental health services. “CLARE has always offered behavioral health but has expanded to include mental health. Over the past few years, we have brought on a highly skilled team of professionals who have made our psychotherapeutic services among our most well regarded and sought after. In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with the demand.”
“In the complex and challenging struggle against addiction, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is why we employ a wide range of evidenced-based psychological, biological and educational behavioral health treatment methods. It’s a holistic approach that takes into account the physical, emotional and spiritual effects of substance abuse on the individual and his or her family. Twelve-step principles are an important part of that formula.”