THE TIME IS NOW FOR A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF ADDICTION TREATMENT BY WILLIAM WHITE, GARY MENDELL, AND SAMANTHA ARSENAULT

Countless people have had their lives positively transformed by addiction treatment. But tragically, this is not the norm. Despite decades of advancements in science, pharmacology, and technology, the continuum of evidence-based addiction treatment services remains largely unavailable to those in need. The addiction treatment system is hindered by fragmentation, outdated treatment philosophies, and a payment system that perpetuates antiquated care models and discourages the adoption of best practices in the field. The historical rise and development of the current addiction treatment system explains the evolution of a broken system, and sheds light on new solutions. Today, drug policy leaders, frontline addiction professionals, and affected individuals and families are calling for radical changes in the design and delivery of addiction treatment. It’s time for change. It’s time to protect our families. THE EARLY DAYS OF AMERICAN ADDICTION TREATMENT Treatment and recovery support for addiction began in the mid-1800s, with the nation’s first… Continue reading

Recovery Rising Excerpt: Treatment Works? Taking on A Sacred Slogan – William L. White.

Sloganeering has a long history in the alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems arena as a means of promoting or stigmatizing drug use, advocating particular cultural policies toward drug use, and conveying particular definitions of the nature of AOD problems. The ideological and financial backlash against addiction treatment through the late 1980s and 1990s left treatment advocates on the defensive. It was in this climate that the slogan, Treatment Works, became the central organizing slogan of the addiction treatment industry. There was much to commend the slogan. It was short and catchy, celebrated those whose lives had been transformed by professional treatment, and honored treatment practitioners and their organizations. Something bothered me about the slogan, and it took some time to sort out the source of that discomfort. In 2004 and early 2005, I posted and published a paper challenging the use of this slogan. I argued that the slogan 1) erroneously conveyed the… Continue reading

Recovery as an Act of Resistance – By William L. White

When a slave was drunk, the slave holder had no fear that he would plan an insurrection; no fear that he would escape to the north. It was the sober, thinking slave who was dangerous, and needed the vigilance of his master to keep him a slave. –Frederick Douglass, 1855.  Addiction is influenced by personal vulnerability, but global drug trends and their consequences to individuals and families are also influenced by larger technological, political, economic, and cultural processes. Awareness of such contextual influences and their relationship to personal recovery has been most fully articulated within American communities of color and other historically oppressed and marginalized communities. The earliest recovery support movements in North America rose within Indian tribes whose prophetic leaders (e.g., Handsome Lake, Tenskwatawa, Kennekuk) expressed a profound understanding of the role alcohol was playing as a weapon of exploitation, colonization, and extermination. These leaders challenged the “Firewater Myths” that portrayed racial… Continue reading

MECHANISMS OF CHANGE IN ADDICTION RECOVERY – By William L. White

High degrees of variability in the pathways and styles of addiction recovery obscure shared mechanisms of change across such healing processes. The alcohol and drug problems arena is filled with professional claims and counterclaims, excessive marketing hype, and riveting personal testimonies of how such problems can be best resolved. The central stakeholders in these debates commonly assert that their particular ideas and methods constitute THE TRUTH, and wrap these claims in the mantle of science or personal/clinical experience. The resulting noise can leave listeners understandably bewildered about the nature of such problems and their ultimate solution. People recover with and without the ever-expanding menu of professional treatment; with and without medication support; with and without involvement in the growing networks of religious, spiritual, and secular recovery mutual aid groups; and with and without involvement in new recovery support institutions (from recovery homes and collegiate recovery communities to recovery cafes and… Continue reading