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Our Program - An Alternative to AA!

Somewhat surprising, given the tenebrific enthusiasm of AA in the treatment industry, but without a doubt accurately, quality research has failed to demonstrate
the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other similar "12 step" programs. In fact, the best evidence indicates that AA is only effective for less than 10 % of the individuals who give it a go for one year, and much of that may happen before actual treatment begins and be due to the natural course of the disorder! Dr. Lance Dodes reviewed all the relevant research in the substance use literature and concludes:

 "Controlled, randomized studies [the gold standard of research] on the other hand, have revealed an even more discouraging picture: no such study to date has been able to prove that AA is effective at all (Dodes, 2014:53)" 

Dr. Dodes is a retired Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School, and former Director of Substance Use Treatment at Harvard's McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Center of Problems Gambling. Listen to Dr Dodes himself discuss the issue on NPR - about 5 minutes long.

Nonetheless, here at SCS whold nothing against AA or other similar 12 step programs – in fact, if it works for you keep it up and we will fully support you in those efforts! However, if you are one of the 90+% for whom AA has been ineffective or you find these programs bothersome for whatever reasion, we offer cutting-edge, evidenced based, non-religious but religious compattable, treatment alternatives, and because they are dynamic and adjust to your changing life circumstances and world views, our treatment alternatives are sustainable over a lifetime (Burton, 2001).   

Our evidence based programs combine current cutting-edge Western psychotherapies with classic and historically proven Eastern philosophies and psychologies. 

Here's how -

First, and unlike the vast majority of drug and alcohol treatment programs which are neither qualified to assess nor treate mental health issues, we assess your mental health needs and if deemed necessary and relevant to your substance use issues, we provide the most effective treatment based on western and eastern psychotherapies. These therapies are designed to promote better psychosocial insight - self understanding - and hence help the individual identify and root out the driving forces behind the cravings and desires to use substances in a harmful manner. This is the critical foundation of "modern" drug and alcohol treatment, as Dodes and Dodes note:

"Understanding the psychological contours of addiction [through psychotherapy] also provides a road map for how to treat it. No longer is it necessary to adopt special spiritual beliefs or join a cohort of people who all suffer with the same problem (Dodes, 2014:93)."

Second, our program incorporates large portions of one of the most exciting, evidence based, cutting edge treatment programs in drug and alcohol services - Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) (3). One recent randomized control trial with MORE ran a direct head to head comparison with an AA+ program. The results demonstrated that MORE was by far and away more effective! 

With regard to relapse after one year, they found 33 percent fewer relapses with the MORE group (Garland, 2014:127-135). In addition, the MORE program was shown to impact the many biopsychosocial process (which we can target at SCS) believed to be involved in the addiction process. MORE was 3 times more effective in reducing stress levels; about 2 times more effective in reducing depression, anxiety and hostility; and more effective in reducing alcohol attentional bias (looking for reasons to drink). These reductions were not obtained through thought suppression (which almost always fails in the long run) but rather through the process of mindfulness and insight development as taught in the MORE program. 

Utilizing the basic foundations of MORE we incorporate mindfulness meditation (both relaxization and insight), into our treatment process. Mindfulness meditation works on four different areas of the mind and body connection which helps us to understand and expose bare the roots of substance use. 
Here's how - mindful meditation
1) allows us to develop and direct our skills of attention,
2) increases our awareness of body and life,
3) develops our insights into self and the world,
4) empowers us to explore and regulate our emotions and behavior.

In general, meditation has been shown to be effective in many areas of mental health. For example, research demonstrates the effectiveness of meditation on the following: relaxation response includes changes in metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and brain chemistry, produces a reduction in arousal and increase in relaxation. MBSR was found to be helpful included chronic pain, fibromyalgia, coronary artery disease, cancer patients. Improvements were noted for both physical and mental health measures. We employ meditation for its overall mental health benefits.  We also utilize insight meditation which is a specialized form of meditation that develops access to the root of your emotional forces, unlike general relaxation meditation. In short, our use of mindfulness meditation allows you to uncover and expose the root of your cravings to use - exposed these roots of behavior die and allow for other behavioral roots to sprout and grow in their place

Thirdly, to focus on building a solid meaningful life…right…now, without "needing" to using drugs and alcohol, we utilize two "Eastern" based Psychologies: Morita Therapy – a classic direct action, outcome oriented,  Japanese therapy (4) – and Other Therapy – an "inside-out" worldly therapy rooted in Buddhist Psychology and Eastern Philosophy (5).  In these therapies.... 

(1)  2014. Dodes, L. and Dodes, Z., The Sober Truth, Beacon Press, Boston, MA. See especially Pp. 29-57. 
(2) 2001. Burton, R.P.D. and Hudson, T. Achieving Individually Sustained Commitment to Treatment Through Self-Constructed Models of Adherence. In a special issue Medical Sociology: Health and Illness Issues for the New Millennium. Sociological Spectrum. 21:393-422
(3) 2014.  Graland, E.L.  Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement. National Association of Social Workers Press, Washington, DC.
(4) 2013. Ogawa, B. Desire For Life. Xlibris/Pearson.  
(5) 2009.  Brazier, C. Other-Centered Therapy. O Books, Winchester, UK.