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Mark Willenbring, the former director of treatment research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, who now runs a clinic that treats addictions.Consequently, families are often given guidance that bears no resemblance to what the research evidence shows — and patients are commonly subjected to treatment that is known to do harm.For nearly three decades, I’ve been writing about addiction and drug policy.I’ve dived into the data and written several books on the subject, including an exposé of tough love programs for troubled teens.Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.Although many chronic pain patients are physically dependent on opioids, few develop the life-threatening compulsive pattern of drug use that signifies addiction.
Importantly, when opioid addiction occurs, it is rarely someone’s only mental health problem.
To that point, pain treatment is not the most significant risk factor for addiction.
Far greater risk comes from simply being young and from using alcohol and other recreational drugs heavily.
Addressing these underlying issues is usually essential to successful treatment — but unfortunately, many treatment programs are just not equipped to do so, despite claiming otherwise. “Interventions are almost always destructive, and sometimes, they destroy families.” “The pure tough love approach does not seem particularly effective and is sometimes quite cruel and potentially counterproductive,” Compton said.
On “Intervention,” and other addiction-related reality TV shows, families are advised to plan a confrontation with their loved ones, aimed at delivering an ultimatum: Accept the treatment we’ve chosen for you or face “tough love,” even expulsion from the family. Research on a compassionate, supportive alternative, known as Community Reinforcement and Family Therapy, finds that it is at least twice as effective at getting people into treatment, when compared with the traditional type of intervention or with 12-step programs like Al-Anon for family members.