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NCAD speaker intends not to bash 12-Step, but to enhance it

July 7, 2010
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Co-founder of Enterhealth will discuss the benefits of a comprehensive treatment system

Harold C. Urschel III, MD’s presentation at this year’s National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) is entitled “A New Science-Based Model of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Delivery,” but he wants to make it clear that his talk will not cause dedicated supporters of 12-Step treatment to depart the lecture hall in disgust.

“This is not in any way pushing 12-Step to the side,” says Urschel, co-founder of Dallas addiction disease management company Enterhealth and CEO of the Urschel Recovery Science Institute. “This is giving 12-Step additional resources to further turbo-charge its effectiveness.”

Urschel, who serves as Enterhealth’s chief medical strategist and oversees a program that combines 12-Step treatment, family therapy, medications and whole-health strategies, will deliver his 90-minute NCAD talk on Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. The Sept. 8-11 conference in Washington, D.C. is being produced by Vendome Group, publisher of Addiction Professional, as an event combining treatment, administration, design, technology and other information for addiction professionals.

Urschel received some of his graduate medical training at the University of Pennsylvania and admits being heavily influenced by the research-to-practice orientation of research leaders there such as Charles O’Brien and Tom McLellan, the latter now with the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). He says much of Enterhealth’s program reflects National Institutes of Health (NIH) findings that point to the need for multiple treatment approaches and individualized treatment plans.

“We’ll find out through research in the next few years that there are probably 12 to 15 different types of alcoholics,” says Urschel. “They have different psychiatric components, different family issues, etc. Their treatment requires a multidimensional approach.”

The lectures Urschel has presented on this subject have been more theoretical than what he intends to discuss at NCAD, so it is likely that his talk in September will address some of the real-world challenges around implementing a more comprehensive treatment model. In order to offer a more far-reaching and longer-duration treatment program in Dallas, Enterhealth opted to abandon the insurance market for its residential treatment services (it does work with insurance in its outpatient programs).

Urschel hopes that addressing these practical issues in his talk will convince NCAD attendees to re-examine their programs when they return home. He acknowledges that an “inertia to change” often plagues professionals’ efforts to apply what they learn in conference settings.

NCAD also will feature a number of other presentations that will discuss successes in blending 12-Step treatment with other strategies. Among these are sessions titled “12-Step Recovery, Motivational Interviewing, and Harm Reduction: Natural Partners” and “DBT Meets the 12 Steps.”

Participating associations in the NCAD meeting are NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals (which will now hold its annual meeting under the NCAD title), the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) and the International Coalition for Addiction Studies Education (INCASE). For more information about the conference, including details on early registration discounts, visit www.ncad10.com.

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