Could new addiction medications replace mutual-help groups?

 “…the most vocal critics on either side of the debate are stuck in the bad old days, when medical treatments were untested and mutual-help groups demanded immunity from evidence. The prescription is now collaboration, not confrontation.”

My own experience has been that most of the people in the 12-Step Groups who oppose therapeutic drugs usually know little or nothing about the subject, depending on the opinions of others and (perhaps) uncontrolled personal experience to form their opinions.  This, of course, is no different from the way the majority of people form opinions in general, and is simply human nature.

The harm occurs when they pass this “wisdom” on to others, particularly newcomers.  For example, antidepressants have absolutely nothing to do with the addictive process chemically, but may well be the salvation of alcoholics and other addicts who used drugs to self-medicate their own depressive episodes.  Anyone with an ounce of real knowledge, for example, would never advise someone to stop taking antidepressants without medical supervision (due to the risk of rebound into severe depression), yet I have heard this espoused in meetings.  Antidepressants are amazingly useful drugs when used knowledgeably, but like all powerful drugs have their undesirable side effects.

This is just one example of unskillful advice.  I could mention others.

In short, tradition and ignorance have much in common.  That said, I agree with the statement above.  The prescription is, indeed, “collaboration without confrontation.”

Good article.  Worth a read:

1 thought on “Could new addiction medications replace mutual-help groups?

  1. Tertia

    Nice article! As a recovering addict who does take mess for a psych condition, I agree greater understanding is needed. I wrote a piece called Medications and Judgments on my site about it. Thanks for spreading the word!


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