I’ve been getting quite a bit of communication from people studying to be in the addiction treatment field lately. Most are aggressive and insulting off the bat – and some even pretend to want to have a productive discourse while doing this! Here’s an example of a recent exchange (I have changed identifiers and bolded some notable segments):
To: Steven Slate
I get the feeling you are just trying to make a buck off the misfortune of others. Slamming programs and concepts that are beneficial, without actually backing up the critique lacks credibility. “Pointing out problems without offering solutions does little good”, Terance Gorski said that and I agree.
Although you are quick to state you have worked with many addicts over many years, you do not give specifics as to the nature of that work. You stated you possess no formal degree (in either Chemical Dependency Counseling or Psychology?) I believe any accredited treatment facility requires such for clinical work with clients. Of course you may have facilitated groups in arts and crafts, which is beneficial, but not pertinent to your claims.
Lastly you cite no approved research studies you have had an effect on. ie; stating the success rate of your hypothesis.
I hope you take all this the right way, as I am studying for my degree in CDC, I have completed training in Recovery Coaching (CCAR) and Peer-Mentoring with xxx-xxx. But most of all I am a recovered crackhead and a friend of Bill’s.
I look forward to your reply and God willing a fruitful and beneficial continuing discourse.
I love discussing and debating these issues more than anything. I need to have some mutual respect in discussing it though. When you come out of the gate saying that I’m “just trying to make a buck off the misfortune of others”, how should I take that? I take it as a sign of disrespect; as a questioning of my motives – because that’s what it is.
If you are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt that I truly want to help people, then I am willing to discuss a lot. Are you willing to grant me that? If so, tell me, and we can go from there. My assumption about everyone who works in the field is that they truly want to help, and I assume it of you.
Now I will address a few things you raised:
– “Slamming programs and concepts that are beneficial, without actually backing up the critique lacks credibility.”
I have actually received many praiseful communications from PhDs and others who are impressed by the level of citation and references I put into my articles here. So I have a hard time with this criticism, especially being so broad and unspecific. If there’s a specific article where you think I’ve done this, please cite it specifically to me, including the specific claim you you feel I haven’t backed up, and I will happily respond. But as a blanket claim, I do find it insulting, and can’t really give a substantial answer to it, other than to say look all over the site and you’ll see plenty of citations backing up my claims, and where specific research isn’t available to directly back a claim, you will at least see my reasoning.
– “Although you are quick to state you have worked with many addicts over many years, you do not give specifics as to the nature of that work.”
My FAQs page – which you should read before asking further questions – lists some of my work experience, most of which has been done with Saint Jude Retreats. We do not believe addiction is a disease, thus we do not purport to treat addicts. We have an educational program, designed to inform people of an alternative way of looking at addiction and substances. I am an instructor of this program – not a counselor, therapist, or any sort of addictionologist providing treatment – hence, no treatment credentials are needed. Our organization went to bat with New York State’s treatment agency, OASAS, and it was determined that we were not in fact a treatment program, and allowed to offer an educational program for people with substance use problems, outside of the traditional treatment models.
– “You stated you possess no formal degree (in either Chemical Dependency Counseling or Psychology?) I believe any accredited treatment facility requires such for clinical work with clients. Of course you may have facilitated groups in arts and crafts, which is beneficial, but not pertinent to your claims.”
Do you see how I might find this insulting? Arts and crafts? We did 16 years worth of follow up studies at Saint Jude Retreats, and found that our program graduates have a 62% abstinence rate, and many become moderate users as well. Of course it isn’t all roses, there are people who continued to use heavily, and didn’t find the program helpful – but the fact is that a majority find it helpful, and they often thank us for “showing me I had a choice.” It’s more than arts and crafts – I give people accurate, and thus helpful information and ideas.
– “Lastly you cite no approved research studies you have had an effect on. ie; stating the success rate of your hypothesis.”
My main hypothesis here is that addiction is not a chronic disease, and thus people are fully free to stop/decrease their substance use without treatment or help of any kind. I have repeatedly presented results of epidemiological studies showing that most people quit/reduce to non-dependent levels, even though most don’t receive treatment (this is laid out in my TEDx Talk, this page contains that talk and some citations backing it up: http://www.thecleanslate.org/steven-slates-tedx-talk-tahoe-city/ ) . I have also given information demonstrating that rates of recovery for treated addicts are no better than rates of recover for untreated addicts (here’s that point regarding alcohol: http://www.thecleanslate.org/self-change/substance-dependence-recovery-rates-with-and-without-treatment/ )
Again, let me know whether you’re willing to give me the benefit of the doubt on my motives, as I have given you, and we can talk further. And please be very specific about any further questions, otherwise I will need to write an entire book in response, and that isn’t manageable over email 😉
I am impressed with your timely reply and the effort it must have taken to do so in such a thorough manner. I would like to apologize for your feeling insulted, but as that was not my purpose or intent, I fear it would be meaningless. I did notice you “assume” it is the intent to be helpful which calls all who work into the field. This assumption seems to me to be idealistic. As I have personally attended a for-profit rehab who could not or would not reveal their success rate and regularly admit repeat clients. I would also think that rehabs which use a cookie cutter approach to treatment do not have the clients best interest in mind.
The recidivism rate of addicts is well known to be at least 80%(according to studies I have accessed).
While Project-Match as demonstated 3 different models have each achieved 25% success (in completion) rates, the implementation of these models seems lacking. It seems to me that if your program has achieve success rates of 62%, the authorities would be beating a path to your door to obtain your methods. Either your numbers are skewed or the revolving door is prefered to those whose only claim “is to be helpful”.
Suffice it to say I’m still interested in any theory which offers even a glimpse of hope, even if it is only that one addict may benefit. Obviously it then becomes a problem of matching which addict needs which program. A situation which truly is beyond my ability to assess, surely there are those that can. But again this would interupt the continous flow of clients ie; dollars. This I think is a good time to address the primart point in your statements, the disease model. It seems that by the time many of the addicts reach the point of despair, aka; hit bottom, they are unemployed and without means to pay for treatment(help,if it pleases). Unfortunately resourses such as medicaid respond better if it is a disease to be addressed in this circumstance. As they prefer only to pay for “climical” services. These are costly, and still play into the conumdrum of greed vs. being helpful. You had mentioned New York and the governing body of OASAS. I must assume your inqiury with them happened sometime ago. We are now gearing up to implement the strategy of Recovery Coaching and Peer-Montoring. The reimbursement for which is minimal and only pursued by those of us who truly whish to be helpful in lue of personal(financial) gain. Perhaps you seek to much compensation for being helpful, I don’t know.
I would like to end with yet another point which saddens me. In the effort to promote your book, YOU take pot shots at AA. I was once powerless over my addict and my life had truly become unmanageable. But by the grace of God I found solace and healing in the fellowship, at no charge. Seems their only aim was to be helpful and for this I shall ever be greatful. Please know I thank God for giving me the insight to aversion therapy. A self-admistered technique which reqiured nothing more than a bag of rubber bands.
I appretiate any desire you have to be helpful, I just don’t understand why you stand against others doing the same. If CBE is as powerful as you claim, I hope those who can benefit get the opportunity to employ it. Our local SOS chapter failed, the leader of which was a huge Jack Trimpey fan (Rational Recovery,AVRT) and the current SMARt group is led by a slightly out of touch sex addict (although he is not seeking to adjust that malady). I am aware of the gains made with the application of CBT in the BPD realm, although the time frame would not suffice in the world of addict.
I hope I have not offended your senceabilities, as I am only seeking to find answer to be shared. I shall continue to follow your progress, even share your CBE techniques, atleast those I can aqiure free of charge as I am a mere peer working with other peers free of charge. If you would care to donate a book I would be grateful.
I think I laid out very reasonable terms on which we could have a productive discourse. They were to simply agree to give each other the benefit of the doubt that we both have good motives and want to help people. I then asked you to confirm to me whether you were willing to grant me that benefit of the doubt on this matter.
That you replied by criticizing my assumption of good motives, and never confirmed that you would give me the same benefit of the doubt, tells me you don’t want to have a productive conversation with me. I cannot have productive discussion with people who assume I am a huckster. The absurdity of this is that you could have just pretended you don’t believe I’m a huckster, if you really wanted to have a productive discussion, but you didn’t even choose to do that. I take your apology as wholly and transparently insincere, as was your wish that “I hope you take this all the right way” while expressing hope for a “beneficial continuing discourse” after taking shots at me in your first email. Shots which, incidentally, I asked you to back up more specifically so that I would have a fair opportunity to respond to them. You haven’t done that either.
Feel free to read my site to learn what I believe and the evidence I use to back that up. You’ll probably find links on there next year to a free copy of my upcoming book. But personally, I don’t think we can have any more correspondence.