Alternatives to Abstinence: A New Look at Alcoholism and the Choices in Treatmentby Heather Ogilvie
Is AA the Only Way? Are twelve-step programs the only option for people who want to overcome a drinking problem? If not, do all other treatment methods base their approach on the theory that alcoholism is an irreversible disease? If it is a disease, then why do most general practitioners fail to diagnose it? And why don't medical doctors treat it? If You Have a… See more details below
Is AA the Only Way? Are twelve-step programs the only option for people who want to overcome a drinking problem? If not, do all other treatment methods base their approach on the theory that alcoholism is an irreversible disease? If it is a disease, then why do most general practitioners fail to diagnose it? And why don't medical doctors treat it? If You Have a Drinking Problem, You Do Have Options These are just some of the thought-provoking questions explored in this fascinating new look at alcoholism. People really do have many options when deciding how best to beat their drinking problems. In fact, at least a dozen alternative treatment approaches have been found to be at least as effective as twelve-step programs. Most of these methods do not require their clients to think of themselves as permanently diseased, nor do they require people to adopt a goal of lifelong abstinence as a prerequisite to treatment. By helping people who want to cut back their drinking do so, these methods avoid time-consuming and often counterproductive arguments over the need for abstinence. Abstinence is a goal that not only may turn away people in need of help, but may also be unnecessary in order to eliminate their problems. These alternative approaches help drinkers restore their sense of well-being and self-control over many aspects of their lives, not over just their drinking habits.
Why Haven't I Heard of This Before? For years, in fact decades, scientists and psychologists have known about and practiced behavioral treatments for problem drinking and have accepted behavioral (rather than disease) explanations of alcoholism. Yet the general public is largely unaware of them. The popularity of and publicity surrounding the twelve-step treatment industry have given Americans the impression that the twelve-step method is not only the best way to treat alcohol problems, but the only way. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Americans should base their understanding of alcoholism -- a problem that affects millions of people and involves billions of dollars -- on all the scientific facts and theories, not on the testimonies of a few celebrities or of a friend in AA. One approach can not meet the needs of every individual. Before deciding how best to think of and treat the alcohol problems faced by their family members, friends, and the general public, Americans should open their minds to all the professionals' opinions, scientific evidence, and available treatment options. Choices exist -- and people who seek help have the right to choose among them.
- Hatherleigh Press
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