Maia Szalavitz is one of the most important journalists writing about addiction today. Although she seems to agree with the disease concept and some other ideas I abhor, she is still brutally honest, and willing to report on those facts and ideas the recovery culture doesn’t want you to know. In her latest piece for Time magazine’s healthland series, she interviews Howard Josepher, a moderate drinker, former heroin addict, and treatment professional with decades of experience. They discuss his experience, and the fact that demanding abstinence from substance abusers may not be the best approach to helping them.
Here’s a link to the full story on Time.com, followed by an excerpt:
Q: What was helpful to you about this program?
A: The community and the spirit [of one addict helping another]. Also, we had a clearly defined beginning, middle and end to the program. And when we were in the final phase, we were given drinking privileges. The concept of successful treatment was for participants to [become] responsible members of society, and part of that reintegration was to be able to socially drink.
It actually worked really well for me. I had drinking privileges when I was still part of a therapeutic process. [If they saw that] people were abusing or misusing alcohol, it could be dealt with clinically to help us to gain more understanding and better control.
Some of us did very well and never had a problem; others did not do well. I believe that [the failure of those who did poorly] is the reason they changed the [desired] outcome of treatment from becoming a responsible member of society to becoming a lifelong teetotaler, someone who was expected to be drug free for the rest of his life.