The culture of recovery in treatment

This Daily News column discusses the importance the culture of the treatment milieu:

DR.DAVE: Adults, age 18 to 24, attending multidisciplinary, Twelve Step-based residential treatment for alcohol or other drug addiction. The results suggest, says John F. Kelly, Ph.D., of the Center for Addiction Medicine, that while “strong motivation to change may exist from the get-go among young adults with severe addiction problems entering residential treatment… the know-how and confidence to change come through the treatment experience.”

BILL: By “treatment experience,” I take it Dr. Kelly means not only the patient’s dealings with the doctors but also with the other patients, right?

DR. DAVE: As you may remember from your time at Caron’s rehab, Bill –- the best rehabs aren’t run by people on top—no matter how many Ph.D. and MD degrees they hold – preaching down to the poor sinners below.

BILL: Caron—Chit Chat Farms back then—was the first place I’d ever where the most admired people were the ones we felt were going to “make it” – stay sober — once the twenty eight days were over. That was our judgment, not something we were told by the counselors and/or doctors. “Stick with the winners,” we’d tell each other, “hang out with those most strongly determined never to get drunk again.”

DR.DAVE: Where the so-called authority figures come in, as Dr. Kelly says, is through shaping “the treatment experience” so that therapeutic esprit de corps prevails among patients. Right now I’m sending our first wave of Masters’ and Doctoral-level students from Argosy University through a program like Caron in the Northwest—Sundown M Ranch. They actually live with the patients for a week, immersed in the group morale you’re talking about.

BILL: Very much like what anthropologists do to learn a new language or culture. Your students immerse themselves in the daily life of the rehab, “getting” this foreign (to them) culture of recovery from the inside?

Here’s Bill White on the struggle for control of the treatment milieu.