A New York Times opinion piece on New Year’s Day takes a stab at a subject that the addiction treatment community doesn’t do a particularly good job of articulating publicly: the difference between the alcohol-dependent individual and the problem drinker who likely doesn’t require intensive treatment or long-term support.
Titled “Cold Turkey Isn’t the Only Route,” the piece from journalist and author Gabrielle Glaser touches on topics ranging from the abstinence-based model’s influence on how society addresses drinking problems to what Glaser saw as the benefits of the Moderation Management approach for problem-drinking women she studied during book research. Glaser is the author of “Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink—and How They Can Regain Control.
Glaser writes in the New York Times column, “Research shows that many problem drinkers—those who repeatedly drink more than they intend, sometimes have physical or psychological consequences from overdrinking, and may have difficulty controlling themselves—could benefit from brief interventions and practical advice about how to set better limits and change their drinking by cutting back.”
The Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model for addressing problem substance use has of course been talked about for years, as a way to reach individuals before a problem becomes a full-blown crisis. But will the mainstream addiction treatment community ever see early intervention as a major part of its agenda, as focused as it is on what appears to be an increasingly intense competition for substance-dependent patients? Will marketplace changes and a de-emphasis on residential treatment force it to move in this direction?
I invite you to read the New York Times opinion piece and to share your thoughts with me on whether the treatment field should play a role in changing the public’s language about substance use problems and how to attack them.