Why drug programs often do not work

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Why drug programs often do not work

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If we have a child who needs treatment, it is so hard to know what to do. This treatment system is a mess. So many places that I took my son to gave him treatment that in retrospect that I know was either completely useless or in some cases it was even harmful. So much of the treatment system is based on this tough love idea that you actually have to force contrition on someone who is addicted. A lot of people are helped in treatment programs by the 12 steps, but a lot of adolescents, in particular a lot of our children, have a real hard time with 12 steps because in some ways it is almost anathema to what it means to be a teenager because part of the 12 steps is that you have to turn your life over to a higher power and you have to admit you are powerless. But what is being a teenager? You are not going to turn your life over to anyone. Teenagers don´t feel powerless at all. So while 12 steps are important in the recovery for many people, many programs are based solely on 12 steps. I learned that people often send their kids to program where there isn´t one person who is really trained in addiction medicine. Sometimes programs are run by someone whose only qualification is that they themselves have been in recovery for 20 years, which is great for them but that doesn´t make them qualified. It is like taking someone to a doctor whose only qualification is you have got cancer and the doctor got cancer. So what you need to do is to find a doctor who is actually trained in addiction medicine, and the way to find them is to go on the website of either the American Association of Addiction Psychiatrists, aaap.org, or the American Society of Addiction Medicine, asam,org. They have directories. You find somebody in your area and go consult with them first. And then they can or should help you find a program that is run by good professionals where patients are seen by doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, a team, someone who is looking at a child, a person, to see if they do have dual diagnosis if they have a psychological problem as well as their addiction. So it is all treated at the same time.

Watch David Sheff's video on Why drug programs often do not work...

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David Sheff

Writer

David Sheff is the author of Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, the follow-up to his New York Times #1 bestseller, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s AddictionClean is the result of the years Sheff spent investigating the disease of addiction and America’s drug problem, which he sees as the greatest public-health challenge of our time.

Beautiful Boy was based on Sheff’s article, “My Addicted Son,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine and won an award from the American Psychological Association for “outstanding contribution to the understanding of addiction.”  It was named the nonfiction book of the year by Entertainment Weekly.  

Named to the Time 100, Time Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Influential People, Sheff also won the 2013 College of Problems on Drug Dependence Media Award. Sanjay Gupta, MD, said, "As a clear-eyed chronicler of addiction, David is without peer.”

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