As chairman of a rehabilitation committee for dental hygienists, I have some serious concerns about the article, "Help Patients Before They Hit Rock Bottom" (August 1995). The "alcoholism as a social idea" theory espoused by Dr. Glazer and given attention to by Ms. Biron is a regression to the period before alcoholism was recognized by the medical community as a disease. Alcoholism is defined as a disease under the official current DSM IV guidelines. One of the little understood, and often overlooked, facts is that alcoholism (not just temporary alcohol abuse) is a disease and passes all the criteria to be classified as such. Every alcoholic would like to believe that they can "drink in moderation" and "control themselves when it comes to alcohol." This is a fallacy which has been repeatedly proven in every treatment center in the country by those in relapse.
Ms. Biron is correct that "the combination of counseling and drug therapy can improve the addicted person`s quality of life" and that the key is to "match the individual`s needs with the appropriate treatment plan." Today, most people entering treatment have not only dual addictions (alcohol plus drugs), but many suffer from dual diagnoses (alcohol/drug and emotional disabilities such as depression) as well. These problems are worsened by alcohol and the type of medications used for drug therapy are not meant to be used with alcohol. At no time would any certified addictions counselor suggest that anyone on these medications or who has an alcohol/drug addiction or suffers from depression use alcohol!
The success rates of such new organizations, such as what DrinkWise and Rational Recovery claim, have only been documented over a short term. These groups have been proven rather ineffective over longer periods of time. It is unfortunate that this article was written by someone unfamiliar with AA or Al-Anon 12 step programs. AA does not teach that an alcoholic is powerless; it states, OWe admitted we were powerless over alcohol...O Anyone who has worked these programs knows that they are empowering. No program will be effective for everyone. What is absolute for an alcoholic is that Otemperance drinkingO does not work. There is no such thing as a Osocial drinking alcoholic.O
Ms. Biron is correct that it is a fallacy to believe a person has to hit Orock bottomO to be helped. What AA teaches is that no one can be helped who is Onot ready to receive help.O It is an absolute falsehood that OAA is most effective for non-functioning alcoholics.O This statement shows complete lack of knowledge of how AA works. AA is compatible with all forms of drug therapy and alternative treatments.
Lynn V. Meltzer, RDH