Mental Illnesses Don’t Cause Continued Addiction: NESARC Epidemiological Results

underlying 1

I've been spending a lot of time analyzing the evidence for/against the "underlying causes" or "self-medication" model of addiction (for the latest edition of the Saint Jude Program textbook). Briefly, this is the idea that people's other psychological problems/disorders/mental illnesses cause them to use substances and to be "addicted." Stress, anxiety, depression, unhealed "trauma", and various mental illnesses are mentioned as causes of continued substance use - and it is said that the … [Read more...]

Fake Success Rates: Retention and Completion

NIDA Relapse Rates

There are a lot of issues involved with determining success rates for the various programs designed to help people with substance use problems. But how is success measured, that is, what constitutes success? Is it the reduction of substance use itself? Is it abstinence? Or is it the reduction of substance use related problems (less arrests, and/or better functioning in work and social situations)? Everyone seems to have different criteria for this. I think the most absurd criteria for … [Read more...]

Still Genius – Fingarette on the Disease Myth and Learning

heavy drinking

The Following is an excerpt from Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease, by Herbert Fingarette: Perhaps the most widely appealing types of psychological hypotheses are those proposing to explain long-term heavy drinking in terms of learning theory.....the jargon of learning theory is loosely adopted...One may read of responses, reinforcements, and operant rewards, of learning schedules, cognitive-symbolic correlates, cognitive dissonance, personal attribution effects, and efficacy … [Read more...]

Penn & Teller Bullshit: Alcoholics Anonymous


The comedy/magic duo Penn & Teller, have been doing a show called Bullshit! for several years now where they expose scams and bust cultural myths.  One classic episode examined Alcoholics Anonymous.  It's a great primer on what's wrong with the organization.  With all the traffic I'm getting right now from people interested in Charlie Sheen's claims that AA is a cult and an ineffective solution for addiction, I thought this would be a good time to post it. Specifically, they cover the … [Read more...]

Addiction Is For Kids

NSDUH 2000-2009

The National Survey On Drug Use And Health (NSDUH) is a study carried out yearly by the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), since the late 90's.  It gives a yearly snapshot, demographically, of who is abusing substances, which substances they're abusing, and whether they're getting treatment or not, among other things.  I made the following chart from information found in the NSDUH - it shows what percentage of americans are abusing substances (including alcohol, … [Read more...]