Friday, September 29, 2006

Oregon Switch to Strength-Based Treatment

A huge majority of people who need treatment for ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, Other Drugs) problems don't want treatment, studies show. Dr. Westley Clark, keynoter at the counselors' conference in Burbank yesterday, got a big chuckle from the audience with this statistic. Practically everyone took it as proof that "denial is not a river in Egypt."

But maybe some of the people who reject treatment have a point. Maybe they've talked to people who've tried treatment and it didn't feel right. Maybe treatment made them feel powerless, and ashamed, and depressed. Maybe treatment made them feel like Bad People. And that was scary.

Dr. Karen Wheeler, addictions policy manager in the Oregon Department of Human Services, has been listening. She says that treatment shouldn't be a frightening experience, and it shouldn't make you feel more worthless than you already feel.

Wheeler has announced a new strength-based orientation for substance abuse treatment in Oregon. "We are telling state-financed treatment providers to stress people's strengths and resilience, not their symptoms and illness," she says.

"No matter how long you have been addicted, we believe you have strengths to overcome your disease. We believe in your recovery." Source.

In my opinion, Wheeler is on the right track. Seeing and working with the addict's inner power to overcome addiction is a basic tenet of the LifeRing approach. See How Was Your Week, Ch. 2, Sec. 2.4. Maybe if treatment makes you feel like there is something worthwhile inside of you, fewer people will reject treatment and more people will take advantage of it. Isn't that worth trying?

I look forward to learning more about how Oregon implements the new strength-based treatment philosophy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm in recovery and never found the 12 step model to be never clicked for me. It sounds exciting what's going on in Oregon now. I used because I felt bad, and rehab reinforced that and the meetings I felt like I had to subscribe to a set of beliefs to "belong". I found meditation"mindfulness" and therapy to help me on my own journey....but it would be nice to have a group of other likeminded people in recovery.... Glad I found your blog :)