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Doctor's New Book Looks Closely At Substance Abuse Treatments

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) - The past 50 years have been riddled with accusations, theories, critics and skepticism toward the 12-Step Program.

Today, if you have a drinking problem you go to Alcoholics Anonymous, and if you have a drug problem you go to Narcotics Anonymous. Both programs use the 12-step approach, but is that really best for all their patients?

Many doctors are in agreement that not all patients can benefit from this program. In 2000, studies found that 90 percent of American addiction treatment programs were using the 12-step method.

The Sober Truth (Part 1)

Dr. Lance Dodes is the former director of Harvard's substance abuse treatment unit at McLean hospital. Dr. Dodes also worked as the training and supervising analyst emeritus with the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. He was also an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Dodes has written a new expose of Alcoholics Anonymous and describes how the addition-treatment program has become so popular in America. He analyzed dozens of studies about the success and failure of the 12-step program.

The book provides information for addicts, their families and medical providers, as well as a better way to understand addiction. He explains the science, how and why, AA and the rehab programs have become more of a popular go-to solution rather than a medical diagnosis.

The Sober Truth (Part 2)

His studies showed that only five to 10 percent of those who participated in AA were successful, while the rest should have used another method. Many doctors believe that AA is the solution for all alcoholics, but Dr. Dodes believes we are "going about this all wrong."

"Everyone thinks that AA is right, and part of the reason we think it is that we have a kind of sampling error. The twelfth step of the 12-steps is to go out and proselytize, its carry the word to others," said Dr. Dodes. "But what happens then is that if you look on the bookshelves in the recovery section you see only the reports of people who have done well. And so we keep hearing about the people who do well, the 90 percent who are doing poorly don't write books. So we all get the false impression that everybody's doing great, when that's not true."

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