Mark Willenbring (right), director of the Division of Treatment and Recovery Research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says:
Willenberg says that "Over the next 10 years, I think we'll see a paradigm shift in the kinds of treatments that are available and how they are offered."
The treatment system we currently have [for alcohol dependence] is separated from mainstream health care and mainstream mental-health care. It was devised in 1975, when all we had for treatment was basically group counseling and AA. So when people think about getting treatment for drinking, they envision going somewhere like the Betty Ford Center.
That system has three main problems: First, most people don't want it; they have to be forced into it. The second problem is that patients within the general health and mental-health system are not getting located or treated. Third, because the programs are built around counseling, they are not staffed by medical personnel. So there's no one there to talk about medications available for treating alcohol dependence. And a lot of counselors don't really believe in [medication].Consequently, the new treatments we're developing are not being implemented.