Does Rehab Work As An Addiction Treatment?
Following the recent death of Amy Winehouse, who famously didn’t want to go to rehab, questions are being asked if rehab could have saved her, or if rehab is effective at all.
Scientific American posed the question to Bankole Johnson, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He is also the editor of the new text Addiction Medicine, and has worked on the development of new drugs to treat addiction.
Asked whether traditional rehab works, Johnson said, “I don’t believe that traditional rehabilitation using self-help methods is effective. In fact, the data suggest that they’re not much better than spontaneous rates of recovery. For alcoholism, up to a quarter of people respond on their own, and a lot of recovery centers have rates that are not even that high.”
Johnson is a big believer that therapy alone does not work — drugs must be used as well.
“The medicines that work are better than the psychological treatment alone. To not have someone have a medicine is like tying your hands behind your back,” Johnson said.
He is not a fan of the 12-Steps, particularly the one in which a person is supposed to give themselves over to a higher power.
“It’s a complete myth. And it’s one of the myths that has to be dispelled… The key to addiction treatment is that anyone who wants treatment gets effective treatment. And it doesn’t depend on any power — higher power, lower power, willpower. It takes the level of compliance of anyone going to a doctor to get checked out.”
He concluded, “When people realize it might be possible to get treatment without superhuman power, maybe it will make people want to seek treatment. It’s a message of hope.”