Harvard Doctor Debunks Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs
Yesterday I posted a story about an upcoming book that Hazelden will publish in February in which clinical psychologist Joseph Nowinski presents scientific evidence for the efficacy of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Today, we present an opposing view offered by psychiatrist Lance Doades author of The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry.
Dr. Doades makes the claim that A.A. has a 5 to 10 percent success rate and is never held responsible for the 90 to 95 percent who do not recover. Instead the alcoholic is blamed for not working the program well enough, not going to enough meetings and so forth. The problem with this is we aren’t questioning the mode of treatment and offering alternatives to these people. Much of this is the fault of the recovery rehab industry that is married to the Twelve Steps as a one size fits all treatment.
Dr. Doades thinks A.A. is great for those for whom it works and those people should continue with program. He says the steps don’t seem to be the critical component, but instead it is the fellowship itself, the huge support network of A.A., but it’s not for everyone and he believes we need to provide alternatives for those who aren’t being helped by A.A.
I tend to agree with him. A.A. doesn’t have the silver bullet for alcoholism and never made that claim. We should be happy for any alcoholic who is helped by whatever means, and even as laypeople we should educate ourselves of the other treatment options available.
When I think of my brother-in-law who died of alcoholism, it pains me that the only treatment option he was given was the Twelve Steps as presented to him by a treatment center run by the Salvation Army. When he died, I never once thought the treatment failed, instead I assumed it was his fault for leaving treatment, not going to meetings, not accepting the message we were bringing him. What a shame! I wish I had known better and given him some information that could have helped. Never again will I assume that A.A. is the only way.
The audio interview with Dr. Doades is posted here and you can read the interview at Radio Boston.