The typical drug addiction essay will examine drug addiction in our society, state some of the statistics about it, and talk a bit about mainstream recovery solutions. No doubt there would be mention of Narcotics Anonymous and drug rehabs. And of course, the typical essay on drug addiction would discuss how awful it is, and how it has ravaged our society, and how it is such a terrible problem.
Let’s brush all that aside and get down to the nitty gritty: drug addiction exists in our world, we have treatments for it, and here is the shocker:
Treatment does not work.
Now of course, everyone will freak out about that and get all up in a huff, and cite evidence to the contrary, and so on. But relax. Treatment actually does work, I realize this. It worked for me after I went 3 times and ended up living in rehab for almost 2 years. And I know treatment works for other people, too.
So why say it doesn’t work?
Well, look at the numbers. Let’s say you have a headache medication that is new and just hit the market. It works for less than 1 out of every 20 people. Would we say that this medication “works?”
Or let’s say you have a new exercise therapy course for treating depression. It is shown to be effective for less than 1 out of every 20 people who suffer from depression. Would we say that this new exercise therapy “works for depression?”
Or let’s say that you have a new type of insulin shot that is used to control diabetes. The new shot is unique because you only need to take it once a month. However, it only works for less than 1 out of every 20 diabetic patients.
Would we say that such a treatment is effective?
OF COURSE NOT!
So why do we say, when speaking of addiction and drug rehabs and AA meetings, that “treatment works?”
A couple of points here. I don’t want to be too negative of course. But consider:
* The statistics are dismal regarding treatment, but it is better than jail. Sending addicts to jail instead of rehab produces much, much worse results. But even in spite of that, sending 20 addicts to rehab will generally only get you one who stays clean for the next ten years straight with no relapses.
* Treatment works as opposed to nothing at all. Maybe. In most cases. Some people do spontaneously recover, however. Most studies do not even factor that in.
* Treatment is the best we have to offer. The alternatives all work worse. Our best efforts are not spectacular, but it is all we have. So we do the best we can to try and help people to recover.
* Most addicts and alcoholics who are clean and sober today have tired MORE than 3 times on average to try and get professional help for their problem. They have gone to treatment an average of MORE than 3 times. So yes, in a sense, treatment does work. But we could not say that it works quickly and efficiently….
I think it is important to smash the idea that “treatment works” in the eyes of the general public. Is this not giving out false hope to the masses? Treatment rarely works. It does work, but very rarely. Saying the blanket statement that “treatment works” is misleading.
On the whole, if you or someone you know is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, your best bet is still to seek professional help. Just do not expect a magic bullet. Treatment does not work like magic. It works slowly, it works over time, and it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears before you see real results.