Why 12 Steps Programs Aren’t a Magic Bullet

Modern medicine has tricked us into thinking fixing the human body is easy. The advent of antibiotics has to lead us to believe that there is a one-stop shop for every ailment or disease process. You’ve probably had grandparents complaining of a chesty cough diagnosed with a chest infection. Antibiotics are given and it clears up. Or if you’re a woman – you might have felt a sting when passing urine that quickly passed when your family doctor prescribed a 3-day course of antibiotics. Perhaps you even know somebody who had an early stage cancer that was swiftly trolleyed off to an operating room only to make a full recovery. Regardless of who the patient is, where the patient has come from and what they have done in the past is irrelevant – everybody gets the same treatment. But this isn’t the case with mental health and addiction. If you yourself are reading this looking for a cure for an addiction take a moment to think to yourself why you are here. What happened along your own complex journey that led you or somebody you love to addiction. Each patient, each person, has an individual story that directly affects why they are there and how they can recover. Why then does the United States rely so heavily on one treatment, 12 step recovery programs, for addiction treatment?

Dual Diagnoses

A significant proportion of people who have a substance abuse issue also have a mental health diagnosis. Called a dual diagnosis, this is just one example of the ways in which the status quo is hindered addiction recovery in the United States. Whilst a 12 step programme can be useful for these patients – a whole host of other mental health treatments are also needed.

Treatment Options for Addiction

Whilst 12 step programs do provide an excellent option for addiction recovery – they aren’t for everyone. They also aren’t the be all and end all of the addiction treatment. Take the PacificBayRecoverycentre for instance which offers the following list of treatments:

● Inpatient recovery
● Intensive outpatient recovery
● Cognitive Behavioural therapy
● Medical detox

These different types of treatment programmes are tailored to the individual – providing a far more holistic care for the patient. What we mean by holistic is that the programmes are built around the patient’s own personal journeys and stories. They are tailored and personalized to that patient.

There Will Never Be A Magic Bullet

For incredibly complex diseases like an addiction – there will never be a magic bullet, an antibiotic or drug that can be given quickly and easily and give the patient immediate and lifetime relief. A multitude of treatments and need to be tailored to that individual patient to aid in their recovery. An interesting blog post (that I recommend you read) on DopeMagazine.com explored this very issue this week. In the article a clinician notes:

“Without guidance to other methods, a person with an addiction can stay stuck in the belief that nothing will work for them,” says CT, a Seattle-based CDP who wished to remain anonymous. “12 Steps does not encourage getting help for mental health issues, nor convey how common dual disorders are.”

And therein lies the issue. Not that 12 step programs don’t work. For many they do. It is just the word is not getting out about the different options available that specialist centers like the Pacific Bay Recovery Centre can provide.