Craig had every reason to be depressed. He was drinking a quart of scotch a day, often without eating anything. Both of his parents were alcoholic, and his father also suffered from severe depression, Craig was pale and thin. He had completed three alcoholism treatment programs, but nothing had succeeded in bringing his cravings under control. He was desperate for help.
George, a burly young electrician, had been treated for alcoholism six times. Nothing worked. His parents had given up on him, and now his girlfriend threatened to leave him. When I first met him at ten o'clock in the morning, he smelled strongly of alcohol and spoke of suicide as the only way out of his misery.
Alcoholism treatment counselors had expelled Sonnie from their program. Her bizarre behavior was driving them, and the other clients crazy. The last straw came when Sonnie was found giggling hilariously and painting zigzag lines on the walls of the basement furnace room. She had been assigned to paint the walls in exchange for treatment, work she had pledged to do because she couldn't afford to pay.
Craig, George, and Sonnie are all treatment failures. They are more the rule than the exception. The best-kept secret of alcoholism treatment today is that it doesn't work. Not for Craig, George, Sonnie and 75 percent of all those who check themselves in with high hopes for recovery.
Ironically, the blame for treatment failure is often placed on the patients. They're "not ready to stay sober" or '"haven't reached bottom yet" say the counselors who staff these treatment programs. They assume that treatment works but patients fail. It is a curious perspective given the fact that most patients in treatment make an enormous commitment of time and money to be there. Doctors don't blame patients who are physically ill for failure to recover in response to treatment. They try another form of treatment, and another, and another in an effort to affect a cure.
Psychiatrists don't blame their mentally ill patients for failing to recover. They too try other forms of treatment.
This is not true of treatment for alcoholism. Despite acknowledged shortcomings, despite a shockingly high failure rate, there have been few innovations in the treatment of alcoholism in the past three decades. To understand this sad situation, you need to understand what treatment is available and why it so often misfires.
One you become acquainted with the meaningless platitudes and psycho/spiritual therapies most treatment centers prop up as treatment, and then look at the science-based approach developed at Health Recovery Center, whose model addresses the true underlying biochemical reasons behind the physical disease of alcoholism, you’ll realize that there really is a way to recover not only with abstinence, but with quality of wellbeing that most abstinent alcoholics rarely find.