Is abstinence from alcohol the only reasonable treatment goal?

Further analysis of data from the UK Alcohol Treatment Trial (UKATT) throws more light on the debate about abstinence or non-abstinence as a treatment goal for people seeking help with an alcohol problem. [1] (Initial preference for drinking goal in the treatment of alcohol problems: II. Treatment outcomes. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2010 45(2):136-142.) The analysis compared treatment outcomes for individuals who at intake were aiming at abstinence with those who were not. Outcomes were compared after three months and at a twelve-month follow-up. Read more Is abstinence from alcohol the only reasonable treatment goal?

Addiction and psychotherapy 1 – Introduction

This is the first in a series of posts about addiction and psychotherapy. The posts are aimed at general readers who want a better understanding of addiction, including people who are concerned about their own possible addiction or about someone else.

My ideas are based upon the experience of working in the field of addictions for over thirty years. This is a field in which various different points of view are strongly held and often strongly contested. There is no consensus about how addictions are caused or how best to treat them. My belief is that there is no single model of addiction that can explain the unique and varied experiences of all the individuals who struggle with this issue. What I present here are some ideas that make sense to me and that have helped people I have worked with. I recognise that there are other approaches that people have also found useful.

There are many behaviours that can become addictive – including using alcohol or drugs, gambling or having sex, to list a few. What these addictions have in common is a compulsion to keep on repeating something beyond the point at which it starts to do us harm. The question is: why do we carry on with behaviours that are risky, taking them to a stage where they are hurting us, and then carrying on some more? In these posts I shall look at some ways to understand this behaviour and, in later posts, look at some treatment issues. Read more Addiction and psychotherapy 1 – Introduction