How to Choose a Treatment Center, Performance vs. Puffery

[fa icon="calendar"] 12/18/15 5:05 PM / by Mark Mathews, MA, LADC

Mark Mathews, MA, LADC


Before delving too deep into this question, it’s always a good idea to check motivation. I mean if you’re court ordered to get treatment as a condition to get your driver’s license back, and you have no desire to stop drinking, you’ll want the cheapest most convenient program you can find. On the other hand, if you recognize that you’ve lost control of your life, your alcohol/drug use has led to alienation of family, loss of job and failing health, and you’re motivated by a need to repair the damage alcohol has fostered, then you have a serious matter that deserves some thought. You’ll want to invest in an alcohol rehab program that works

The Words ‘Holistic Rehab’ Have Lost Their Meaning

The most convenient place to gather research is online; however, when you start comparing different addiction treatment centers you may notice a lack of substance. You’ll find plenty about “expert staffs,” “friendly service” and “the beautiful appointments.” You’ll find everything you need to know except how they’re going to get you well, which is what you’re really looking for, isn’t it? You may pick up on the word “holistic” getting liberally tossed around. Strangely, many holistic alcohol rehab programs are also “dual-diagnosis” programs, engaged in putting their clients on psychiatric drugs. In truth, the word holistic is meaningless (I know of one clinic that put up a rope for the clients to practice climbing so they could call themselves a holistic rehab center). 

According to the World Health Organization and scientific research, alcoholism is a disease, yet most treatment centers still emphasize antiquated psychological, 12-step, therapy-based formats, meaning no physical repair for the disease, just a lot of talk. So when treatment centers tell you their program is better than the other guys, or they get the best recovery rates, you have to wonder why. Why should any talk-based program work better than another? Do $50,000 programs have better incantations than $5,000 programs? Hummm, that’s ridiculous. No matter how they’re packaged, addiction treatment centers that are fundamentally the same (talk) will produce similar results, and they’re not good.12345

Conveniently, the industry tells treatment centers they no longer need to keep success/failure records because relapse is part of the recovery process. But if we look back 20 years to the days when records were being kept, the success rates for psychological (talk) programs averaged around 20%, about the same as people who tried to quit on their own.12345678 Today the addiction rehabilitation industry has partnered with psychiatry, which has led to the widespread distribution of psychotropic drugs for addicts trying to get off drugs. It’s very confusing I know, but the end result hasn’t produced better recovery outcomes for alcoholics, just more profits for Big Pharma. See Are You Better Off Without Treatment.


Ask To See Results

Like myself, when you start researching your options you’ll come across a few outrageous claims of success being made by psychological programs. Challenge them to show you their impartial peer review studies to back up their claims, and get ready for nothing. Simply stated, if you want better recovery rates, you need a different approach, a program with a superior model of treatment. The world’s first orthomolecular clinic for addictions got its start in 1981. Health Recovery Center was the brainchild of Joan Mathews-Larson whose passion for orthomolecular medicine inspired an approach for treating addictions with a level of success that far exceeds the competition. The proof is right out there for all to read in a peer review study published in the International Journal of Biosocial and Medical Research.9 It separates performance from puffery. If you’re serious about getting your life back, Health Recovery Center is the real deal.


speak to an advisor 

Gerald and G. Saenger, "The Abstinent Alcoholic," Archives of General Psychiatry 6 (1962): pp 83- 95.

Dr's. Gerard & Saenger 1962; Followed 299 treated alcoholics; 1 year: 55 still abstinent (18% success rate)

Polich, J. Michael, David J. Armor and Harriet B. Braiker. The Course of Alcoholism: Four Years After Treatment. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1980.  HYPERLINK ""

US Government Figures from the Rand Corp. 1980 Study; 922 patients from 8 major treatment centers (males); 6 months: 28% abstinent; 1 year: 21% abstinent; 4 years: 7% abstinent.

George Vaillant, "The Natural History of Alcoholism", Cambridge Harvard Press (1983): pp 285.

Dr. George Vaillant's 1983 study; 100 alcoholics from Cambridge, Sommerville Program for Alcohol Rehabilitation; 2 years later: 81% remained alcohol dependant (19% success rate)

  1. D. Emrich, "A Review of Psychologically Oriented Treatments of Alcoholism, II", Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol 36, (1975): pp 88- 107.

A review on 384 separate studies of psychologically based alcoholic treatment programs; Changes in psychological treatment methods did not affect outcome. Mean average: 23% abstinence or social drinking

New England Journal of Medicine study in 1985; A review of 1,290 patients from four treatment centers; 5-7 years: 15% abstinent, 13% dead (1 hospital had a 43% mortality rate!)

Lemere, F. What Happens to Alcoholics. Amer. J. Psychiat., 1953, 109:674-675.

Lemere reported long-term abstinence in 11 percent of untreated alcoholics over an unspecified interval.

Kendall, R. E. and Staton, M. C. The Fate of Untreated Alcoholics. Quart. J. Stud. Alc., 1966, 27:30-41.

Kendall and Staton reported 15 percent abstinence in untreated alcoholics after a seven-year follow-up.

Powell, E. Penick, M. Read & A. Ludwig, "Comparison of three outpatient treatment Interventions: A 12 month follow-up of male alcoholics", Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Vol. 46, No. 4 (1985): (KC VA Study).

Mathews-Larson and B. Parker, “Alcoholism Treatment with biomedical/biochemical Restoration as a Major Component,” International Journal of Biosocial and Medical Research 9, No. 1 (1987): pp 92-100.

Note: These studies predate the present treatment approach the industry calls “dual diagnosis” i.e. using drugs to treat the symptoms of alcoholism and drug addiction. Our observations in treating clients who have gone through programs that promote psychiatric drugs reveals no better outcomes that those that don’t; in fact, shifting alcoholics/addicts to other drugs complicates and compounds the problems of the original addiction without bringing a long-term solution.



Topics: Holistic Rehab, Addiction

Mark Mathews, MA, LADC

Written by Mark Mathews, MA, LADC

My work focuses on biochemical repair of the brain using orthomolecular medicine to help people with addictions and mental health disorders. I spend my free time painting and playing guitar.

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