Addiction and the Stages of Healing is the name I have given to an idea that occurred to me after many years of consideration. This series is meant to serve as my way of walking you through the idea.
In short, I would like to suggest it would be helpful to have perhaps 10,000 or more current addiction treatment patients evaluated on comprehensive measures of wellness (covering biological, psychological, social, and spiritual indicators), and for that evaluation to be prospective and continuous over the years of each individual’s lifespan. To do something like that would probably require some innovation, not just in our structural systems, but also in identifying more well-rounded indicators, types of indicators and the related measures than are in common and current clinical use.
Further, if we assessed that large number of people in such a way, prospectively over decades, it would be helpful to transform that data into a norm-reference group. I suspect we would find useful and practical aggregate information, such as average critical periods for people making improvement, regressing, or being stuck. That is, stages would become evident.
It is said that data is recursive to care: that the result of a therapeutic activity is itself information; that the result of care is rolled back in as data to understand the case; and that in turn helps fine-tune the care as needed. Imagine applying that principle to all patients, across their entire lifetimes, in every level and type of professional service in our field, simultaneously and continuously. This method itself, and both the particular and aggregate information obtained, could improve our work with individual people.
Here are the basic topics and objectives of this blog series:
- I will present some current limitations related to measuring improvements for addiction patients, including what we are measuring, how, and when we are doing our measuring.
- I will differentiate clinical outcomes from total healing and the indicators of total healing; this point, and its importance, will be elaborated.
- I will describe the pursuit of clinical outcomes with currently identified measures as a self-limiting process, and I will suggest something broader and much longer (over decades).
- For the sake of context and clarity I will provide a brief look at some historical stage-specific theories connected to the problem of addiction.
- Overall, I will emphasize the potential utility of the Stages of Healing as a framework – a way of thinking, and a way of working with individuals – and show how the essence of that idea could be reflected in our assessment approaches, therapeutic strategies, and research agendas; I will describe how this would ultimately constitute a comprehensive change for the field.
In case you missed it, the Addiction and the Stages of Healing series introduction is here.