Psychological Self-Help

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of ordinary experiences can become addictive, such as work, sex,
exercise, eating, making money, shopping, socializing, etc., and
anyone can, under the right circumstances, become addicted. This
leads many experts to question the old notion that alcoholism is
primarily an inherited disease and that the victim is powerless against
it without God's help and a life-long 12-step program for guidance. 
Actually, giving up the traditional disease concept helps many
alcohol treatment centers accept new treatment approaches, such as
various new drugs as well as aversion treatment, behavioral shaping,
family therapy, motivation interviewing, and many other forms of
psychological treatment (Rodgers, 1994). And giving up the disease
concept helps some people, who reject the I'm helpless and religious
ideas, seek help (to control a bad habit). There is still much we don't
know in this area, including such things as how many Vietnam
veterans could just leave their heroin addictions behind them when
they returned to the states. Also, why do 95% of the people who quit
smoking do it on their own but, according to some, only 20% of
drinkers stop without outside help (at the same time, 90% of smokers
are considered "addicted" but a much lower percentage of drinkers
considered themselves addicted)? The wholesome questioning and
doubts about the causes and treatment of addictions should lead to a
lot of change, experimentation, and controversy in the area of
addiction treatment during the next decade. 
Addiction therapists with new and different orientations have
recently made great contributions to our society, not just in the form
of treatment methods, such as relapse prevention, but also by
focusing on the effects of an alcoholic family member on other
members (codependents, abused children), clarifying the role of
shame, and highlighting the need to take care of the hurt inner child
(see codependency and children of alcoholics below). 
Illegal drugs are used (1) because they help us feel good, (2)
reduce or avoid unpleasant feelings, (3) aid our socializing, and/or (4)
because we are physically addicted. Drug treatment needs to be
tailored to fit the addict and his/her needs. Severe cocaine addictions
require inpatient treatment for 90 days or more. Moderate cocaine
users can benefit from outpatient drug-free programs. In general,
however, all forms of treatment have many failures, e.g. at one year
follow-up 25% are still regular cocaine users (Simpson, Joe, Fletcher,
Hubbard & Anglin, 1999). For good general references about drugs see
Weil & Rosen (1993), Marlatt & VanderBos (1997), and Easterly &
use/organizations/), PREVLINE (, National
Institute of Drug Abuse (,
Web of Addictions (, or Marijuana
Anonymous World Services (
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