Substance Dependence Recovery Rates: With and Without Treatment

Those of you who have not made it over to Steven’s The Clean Slate Addiction Site, should go check it out. It is very well done. Here is a page from there, which he linked in our comment section, but I did not want it to get lost in the abyss:

Substance Dependence Recovery Rates: With and Without Treatment

  • love it love it. We will see more of this. So many are fed up and speaking out truthfully. !!!

  • my concern with this site is that–and i apologize it this is shitty and am embarrassed if i come across all paranoid like–is that i think it is all propoganda for st. judes. as many of you know i have little patience for detail and little time for quality research (and just have bad information seeking skills) but i wonder even further is st. jude’s is a cult like scientology-ish operation.

    i do like the clean slate blog; the writing is well done. it reminds me of of this blog: however, this cited blog, addiction inbox, seems more authentic with less dogma and also seems to have less of an agenda.

    what do you all think? am i a paranoid mess? um, should i be paranoid after spending all but one yeear of my adult life in aa. yep. what i ido like about clean slate is that the dude who writes it, who is often on this blog, is not some anonymous guy who could actually in truth be a chick with a personality disorder in real life. he really is who he says he is; i have no question of that.

  • Re: My poor ability to look for and synthesize addiction information and information regarding AA… I have the issue discussed in this article. I am almost positive.

  • AnnaZed

    Violet my dear Dunning-Kruger effect is very prevalent in the rooms of AA. I might even go so far as to say that 12-step theology might be our society’s most stunning and cogent example of Dunning-Kruger in action.

    I have not seen any indication from your posts that you are acting under a Dunning-Kruger delusion, quite the contrary actually.

  • Martha

    Violet, I don’t think there is a hidden agenda to promote St. Judes, but this does raise a broader question about people having access to services for addiction. Not everybody can afford medical care or pay for Naltrexone. If we are to effectively address addictions it should be with an approach that includes access to medical and social services. This brings up the need for a universal single payer health care system in the U.S. We need to catch up with other industrialized nations and make quality medical care available to all citizens. Currently medical care is rationed according to affordability. IMHO medical care should be a basic right for all citizens. Once we have a decent system of socialized medicine addiction services should be part of that system.

  • french

    @Martha – Yeah, it seems almost like common sense… healthier people, lower costs for everyone. Addiction care should def fall under that, too. It’s just a big part of healthcare and it will probably never go away.

    Preventative medicine ought to be a big part of any system, and addiction would fall under that.

    In my observation and experience if the state of Florida, almost anyone who is motivated can receive a no or low cost detox. The places aren’t plush, but at least they’re safe. Staffed by nurses and docs.

    The next stop after detox (if necessary), the treatment centers, are just no good, public or private.

  • Lucy

    I agree with you, Violet, but I don’t really have a problem with an agenda which supports St. Judes. If fact, I think most medical research is sponsored with a profit motive, which is why there aren’t many drugs for rare illnesses and lots of drugs for common illnesses.

  • Lucy

    My favorite part of the chart is the part where it shows that 40% of people who once were treated for dependent drinking are now considere to be in full remission because they are engaging in either low-risk or asymptomatic drinking. It underscores the weakness of the AA argument that recovery is defined as total abstinence (and of course going to meetings every day, working with others, etc,), and argues in favor of moderation,

  • Martha

    French says: “the treatment centers, are just no good, public or private.”

    As treatment centers are now I would agree since they are mostly 12 step. There will still be a need for people to get treatment and access to medications to ease them out of withdrawal. Part of the thing with AA being useful to to big business medicine is that it is free. It has become a substitute for actual medical services.
    Another aspect of this has to do with poverty and unemployment. When the economy gets bad more people use substances. If we could put a higher priority on everything from education to social services and extending unemployment benefits for as long as people are jobless it would be part of a preventative approach to addiction and other social problems. As for a national health care program I am optimistic that a new wave of progressive activism will usher in a single payer health care system in the U.S. within a decade.

  • Lucy

    French – I went to a treatment center that hadn’t been based on the 12 steps, but changed to include them after I left. I understand that the push to include the 12 steps came from the local AA groups and the courts.

    It was admittedly a high dollar place, but it provided “scholarships” for people who couldn’t pay. It also had differential programs for people who were dual diagnosis (although that was not what it was called at the time.) It also a prepaid six month out patient group therapy as a part of the treatment.

    The problem for a treatment center, is more than not having single payor health care isn’t or places like Sweden or Ireland wouldn’t have alcohol problems. A treatment centeri needs revenue to survive and a great deal of the revenue comes from referral and intervention. AA helps them get clients and it isn’t in their best interest to get trashed by AA members.

    The bigger problem to me is the lack of accountability in the mental health system itself, There is no benchmark for performance other than peer review, and peers support each other for referrals. That makes it easy for AA members to exploit it, and insurance companies and courts to look the other way.

    I am quite sure all of us could crash the thread with examples of poor mental health care that either we or a family or friend received, and I don’t think that would be true if we were talking about an OB GYN, a rheumatologist, etc.

  • MA – Thanks for the kind words about my site.

    Violet – As a one time client and former employee who was pleased with my experience at St Judes, I will mention them often. I believe they did (and continue to do) amazing work in advancing an alternative approach to dealing with substance use problems. Is there a hidden agenda to promote them? My agenda is to promote whatever I find to be truly helpful, the program offered by St Judes is something I personally know to be helpful. I’ll never be able to get away from the fact that I spent 5 years in and out of 12-step based treatment programs and meetings being told that I had an incurable disease which was causing my behavior, that I was powerless, that “relapse is a part of recovery”, and that my only hope was to pray for a miracle from a god I didn’t believe in and go sit in miserable meetings every night for the rest of my life. None of that ever helped. Then I ended up in this place where they taught me the complete opposite of all those things – and I’ve been free of my substance abuse problems ever since. This experience will always be with me, so I’m gonna talk about it. I’m a satisfied customer of theirs. If you wanna think I’m a propagandist for them, that’s fine, but then (and I say this with absolutely no hostility, but only as a bit of logic) with all the talk about the Sinclair Method lately on this site, you could say that ST is propaganda for that method. Of course that would be untrue, the people promoting Sinclair here are enthusiastically supporting what they know to be helpful (and personally I think that’s great, I hope your testimonials convince others to give it a go). I certainly don’t think SJ’s program is the only thing that works, but it’s one method which I have personal experience with.

    I also try to recommend any program that follows these same principles I believe are helpful:

    – don’t get people hung up on biology (i.e the disease, or equivalent concepts such as “toxins”, or nutritional imbalances being the cause of addiction). Also, don’t teach them to be helpless or powerless in any other way.

    – don’t disillusion them by making them wait for a miracle, and other mystical mumbo jumbo.

    – increase self-efficacy, focus on strengths and the things that are legitimately within their power to change (help them to build the confidence that they can change, that they can solve this problem, that their choices matter, that they are important and should be allowed to focus on building their own happiness without feeling shame or guilt over it)

    – empower them to actively choose alternative behaviors to excessive/harmful levels of substance use (i.e. chase some dreams in your life, re-evaluate what’s important to you, set some goals, increase involvement/satisfaction with one’s career, family, social life, etc.)

    I’m enthusiastically in favor of anything which jibes with the above. For example I believe strongly in Stanton Peele’s work whom I also mention often, recommending 2 of his books explicitly, his residential treatment program, and linking to his blog on my main page. I think my site could just as easily be seen as propaganda for Stanton Peele.

    I think that because I battle so hard against the disease theory and the treatment industry which promotes it, some may lump me in with scientologists. I will say here that I am not, nor have I ever been a scientologist or even remotely a fan or admirer of them – nor is St Judes involved in any way with scientology, and they don’t resemble them or a cult. If you believe that St Judes does resemble them – then you should actually look into the main feature of Narconon, which is their detox regimen involving 4hours or more per day of sitting in saunas, drinking oils, and taking high doses of vitamins and niacin – then find out if St Judes does anything like that (hint, they don’t).

    For the record, I also have nothing against the use of medications to help people with addictions. I think the medical world has done a great job of dealing with detoxification, and helping people through those initial stages of craving, and more. I think that if people find psychiatric meds that help them with those other problems related to addiction (such as various anxiety and depressive disorders, etc), then they should proudly use them. But I don’t think the medical establishment should have a monopoly on “treating addiction”. I think that while they’ve proven they can help with the acute stages quite well, they have likewise proven that they have no real solutions for the long-term resolution of a substance use problem (as the research on the page linked to in this post points out, there’s not really evidence that people are better off getting treatment). That is, when people are out of the acute stages, and yet they gravitate back towards excessive use even after their “hijacked” brain has returned to a normal state (as Nora Volkow of the NIDA’s work has shown does happen, even for meth addicts, with her pretty brain scans) I don’t think that’s a function of biology or disease right there. I think it’s a function of a whole bunch of personal choices, and rather than writing it off as an inevitable “relapse”, I think it’s avoidable. I think you avoid it by building a life where you are actively pursuing activities/lifestyles which are more satisfying than drugs/alcohol. I think that’s the key part, that’s what makes it stick / how you permanently solve the problem – and that there’s no reason for the medical establishment to have a monopoly on teaching people to do that.

    Far from being a cult, SJ teaches people to deal with their problem in the 6 weeks there, and then to go home to live their lives as normal people without being dependent on a lifetime of treatment, “aftercare”, and AA meetings. They send people on their way confident that they can find something better than an artificial happiness strung together on the cheap thrills of drug and alcohol use. And they give them the tools to do that, and help them build a plan to do that. I think Stanton Peele’s work does the same thing, he gets people focused on their other more important values. I think that in some tiny minor way AA tried to do that, but there was so much religious, cult, and other nonsense involved that it really completely drowned out any chances of somebody getting the message that they should just go move on with a happy life.

    Sorry for the long post, I thought about not replying to the scientology/propaganda charges, but then since the post recommends my site, and one of the first comments makes this charge, and I’m known to be commenting here, then my silence might be taken as confirmation of the charges. No hard feelings Violet, I applaud skepticism.

  • Every approach to alcohol abuse that does not feature brainwashing into powerlessness and lifelong cult membership is good. Just so people know that AA is not the ‘only way’. The Sinclair Method sounds very interesting and I have wondered whether they might want to advertise on this site.

    I would imagine this has been covered before, but I have a question. When AAs say that it is only their service work, meetings and ‘helping’ (read recruiting) vulnerable people that keeps them sober, that the people they ‘help’ are needed for their ‘recovery’…. what would they do when they no longer could find new recruits? Because people wanting help in stopping drinking could go to StJ, or try the SM, or do it with SMART, or Lifering. It must be in AA’s interest not only to deride other methods that might work, but if other methods do work, then AA loses its lifeblood of new recruits, and then what? Will they all go out and get drunk because there are no newcomers to rescue?

  • i read steve’s comment though (twice) so i am rethinking my paranoia.

    good point, primrose.

  • Gunthar2000

    I don’t have links, but I’ve read some pretty nasty stuff about Scientology and it’s front groups. I read a testimonial from a young man who claimed he had been locked in and held hostage at a Narconon rehab… He told about how the staff at the rehab denied that the rehab was based on Scientology… Lied to his parents… and even lied to the police. I’ve also read accounts by the group “anonymous” online about people who have died in similar hostage situations.

    Although I’ve always appreciated the quality of Baldwin Research articles and much of the other work that can be found on sites that are rumored to be linked, in some way, to Scientology, I’m inclined to err on the side of caution and avoid them as much as possible. I’m not saying anyone is a liar here. I’ve just been through so much bullshit with AA that the word “cult” just scares the shit out of me. I’d rather be dead than brainwashed.

  • causeandeffect

    I find it very frustrating that there is so much evidence that AA is detrimental to recovery and so few people know about it. I’d need to print out and rearrange these stats in a different way (just the way my mind works a bit different from most) but from what I can tell at a glance, it’s pretty strong evidence across the board. Unfortunately, this study doesn’t answer so many of the specific questions I would ask if it were my research.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t believe Steve would be involved in Scientology. I just don’t get that kind of feeling from his articles and posts I’ve read. I accept what he’s previously stated in regards to the article that made it appear as if there was an association between St. Jude’s and Scientology. Still, I understand Gunthar’s hesitance, based on the similarity of the numbers, it did look suspicious.

  • I have read not so great things about Balwin Research, too But I am more literary and um, well, I have a hard time solving so for x, so being able to REALLY understand if the research is “good” or not is maybe not something I can do. I have read the same sort of things that Gunther mentioned. I have evn read (ok, skimmed the paragraph headings) an article or two about legal cases against the Baldwin Institute.

    But then there is this smart, super cool seeming guy, The Clean Slate guy, who is telling us that Scientolgy and SJ’s are not affiliated…. (and there are no saunas! um ok??!) To me, this indicates that the truth is out there burried under all the shit we need to wade through to finally approach a solutoion (and by solution, I do not mean a fucking spiritual one).

    I am not meaning to be mean to Steve Slate, Btw.

  • Violet – “(and there are no saunas! um ok??!)”

    I bring up the saunas because they are a key insane feature of Narconon that I’ve heard from every person I’ve known who has been there, and beyond that, you can read about it online, so it’s one thing that I would think that people who are against Narconon would actually know about. Thus I would think that a person familiar with the ways of Narconon could compare that knowledge against the ways of St Judes, and realize that they are not similar. My problem is that I assume that people who are rabidly against something like Narconon would actually have some knowledge about what goes on there (because I assume their opposition is based in some sort of knowledge). I should realize that some people don’t care to know what they are standing against, and thus pointing out the differences will win no arguments for me with those folks.

    If anyone reading this cares to know what goes on at Narconon, here is a brief overview:

    Here is one of Narconon’s own pages on the sauna treatments. 28 days of saunas!

    Here are some complaints about Narconon in Canada and of course the Saunas and Vitamins and Niacin treatments are heavily featured:

    None of this shit goes on at St Judes. Check their site, call them and ask them to detox you in saunas and feed you oils and vitamins and niacin and see if they’ll agree to do that, do an undercover investigation, but please don’t be so irresponsible as to keep spreading this rumor without having done a reasonable amount of investigation. The sauna vitamin & niacin thing is so incredibly central to Narconon – that it’s unfathomable that a program which doesn’t do this stuff could ever be rumored to be Narconon in disguise. I feel like a Toohey-esque smear campaign is being waged against SJ, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some 12-steppers are the true source of these rumors which have apparently become a “dead issue” with some.

    I was excited when my page was posted and linked to on a blog post here, and I thought it might be a nice opportunity to discuss the prevalence of self-change as a pathway out of substance use problems. But then it was immediately marred by unfounded rumors – very disappointing. I can’t believe I have to come on here and defend myself and friends against this slander. I thought of this as a supportive place with like minded people, and I have massive respect for what goes on here and the people in this community. This stuff is very frustrating, because it’s so easy to see that St Judes is not a Narconon program – so incredibly easy with just a minimal amount of research.

    Sorry to come off snappy, but I think it’s irresponsible to spread these rumors with no evidence, and apparently no feeling that evidence should even be considered. Knowing the horrors of Narconon, one should know that accusing people of being involved in it is a very serious charge to make – one which shouldn’t be taken lightly. It would be like me saying “hey I heard that guy there is a rapist, I don’t know who told me this, I don’t know what facts they based that opinion on, and I couldn’t tell you of anything that indicates he’s a rapist, but I think I heard it somewhere, and that’s not only enough reason for me to stay away from him, but also reason enough for me to spread the rumor that he’s a rapist.”

    MA, again, thanks for the post, sorry that I’m having to use it to try to dispel rumors.

    To causeandeffect and Primrose – thanks!

  • Olympia

    Steven Slate has until now been an unknown person to me. I am happy to get a link to his blog. I guess the more people that write about the dark sides of 12 steps the better. I do however have a short comment on the news Steven published about “A Third of Scottish Addicts Who Die of Overdose Have NOT Received Treatment – That Leaves Two Thirds Who Were Treated and Still Overdosed”. This piece of information/news does not really belong in this discussion, as we are talking about medical substitution treatment with methadone and not recovery based treatment. It has been my experience that people familiar with treatment for alcohol addiction, are not really understanding in depts whats going on in the field of drug policy and the field of treatment policy regarding drug addiction. I am aware that Americans often do not separate the treatment for drug addiction with the treatment for alcoholism – to Americans its the same phenomenon: “Chemical addiction”. For the rest of the world the treatment efforts are diverse and the treatment policy very very complicated to get an overview and understanding of. What is, however, very interesting to discuss is “how is “treatment” defined” and “what are the purpose of treatment” and not at least: “who benefits from treatment” and likeminded questions. And for that I find The Clean Slate Addiction Site interesting. Kind regards Olympia (Denmark, hence my bad English)

  • french

    @Lucy. I like your reply. Some good thoughts. Your quote:

    “A treatment center needs revenue to survive and a great deal of the revenue comes from referral and intervention”

    grabbed me. Could somebody chime in on where alcohol and tobacco taxes go in a states budget?

    Where I am going with this is that an obvious, common sense funding source could be from the taxation of formerly illegal drugs – like all of them.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Cheer up, Steve. I have been called a closet stepper by the guy who wrote the book on them.

  • Thanks Olympia.
    If I understand you correctly, you’re right, I see alcohol as just another drug.

    I have much experience personally attending outpatient methadone programs, and it was a mixed experience for me. In order to get the methadone I also had to go to weekly group and individual counseling, and Cocaine Anonymous meetings. Furthermore, my counselors were all 12-steppers, and they often badgered me about believing in god. What’s worse, at a time when I was dealing with sexual orientation issues (with a good therapist at another office) my assigned counselor at the methadone clinic was extremely heterosexist (assumed me to be straight) and often made homophobic jokes in front of me that caused a lot of psychological distress while I was really going through intense emotional problems in dealing with this. Beyond that, the CA meetings drove me up a wall, the same people would would come into the meeting every week and say “I relapsed again the other day, but I’m going back to step 1 and really trying to accept that I’m powerless – and I’m really going to try to surrender this time, blahblahblah…” Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Also, after synchronizing my clocks with those at the office, I would show up with 10 minutes before closing time for dosing, and the security guards would take pleasure in locking the door literally in my face as I was about to walk in, and I would have to go without methadone for the day. I sometimes think I wasn’t there to be helped, but rather a subject in an elaborate study on how much torture a person could handle before giving up and heading out to do heroin again.

    With all that said, I have mixed feelings about methadone. I think it could be very helpful, there were times where I had long stretches of abstinence with it, but the other parts of the “treatment” which it was packaged with only seemed to make me worse. I successfully tapered off, and was back shooting up in no time. After watching another friend go through a non-methadone intensive outpatient program a few years ago, and end up dead because he “relapsed” with other “patients” from his program, there’s an important dynamic going on with outpatient treatments that I recognized. You’re encouraged to spend all this time every day focusing on your disease, and your problems, and talking about your cravings, and that this keeps you addicted. Also, you stay socialized with other addicts, and most of them are not doing well. It’s an unhealthy environment. It keeps you thinking like an addict, focused on drugs and addiction and self-imposed problems – when instead you could be focusing on constructive things, moving on and building a better life, etc. Outpatient, with or without methadone, is generally an exercise in staying focused on self-victimization, in my opinion. Also, methadone clinics are great hubs for active users and drug dealers. I think methadone could be a great thing if it didn’t involve the methadone clinic, and if it was accompanied by a positive course of action opposite to the general teachings of the recovery movement.

    Anyways, here in the US, methadone comes with the horrible strings of the recovery culture attached.

    In that Scottish piece, I tried to find rates of treated and untreated opiate users in Scotland (because most of those who OD’d were opiate users), but I couldn’t find anything reliable. The voices from the government seemed pretty confident that they were getting everyone into treatment, and the addiction rates I could find were based on who came into contact with law enforcement and treatment providers. They seemed to think they were fully aware of every addicted person, with no inkling that there might be addicts out there who don’t get arrested or apply for treatment. I found it shockingly arrogant.

  • Also Olympia – right after I did that story on Scots overdosing, there was a huge study released on addiction and treatment released in England which I found fascinating. It brought up so many issues that it left me sort of paralyzed as to what to write about. One of the most fascinating things was that 81% of the people who get treatment in England in a given year are being treated for opiate addiction. Here it’s the other way around, believe it or not, there are far more people receiving treatment for Marijuana use in the US than those receiving treatment for Opiate use!

    This brings up a lot of cultural questions – do people see the other drugs as not addictive, and just do them, have their fun, and move along? The episodes of Skins which I’ve watched lead me to believe that’s probably the case.

    How would you describe the difference between “treatment” and “recovery” in your country? I’m fascinated to learn more.

  • Lucy


    Ah, a question from my businees. It depends on the State.

    Several states securitized (or tried to securitize) the proceeds of tobacco settlements in an attempt to underwrite publicly funded health costs. The procees of the actual tobacco sales taxes have historically been used for public health costs, enforcement, etc.

    Liquor taxes almost always support law enforcement, public education and general services. There isn’t much left over for things like alcoholism treatment.

    By the way, I am NOT in favor of a public health policy in which the public pays for the treatment of addiction. I live in a State where that was tried, and the result was that we had a governor and a lieutenant governor who had those treament centers run using 12 step programs. I watched the addiction rates go up, and the same people return again and again to treatment to avoid jail.

    I also watched the crime rate drop when the treatment center plan was dropped in favor of incarceration for drug use. I provided those statistics on this board a few weeks ago,

    It is naive to think that AA has no political influence, but the influence it has is based on cost. State and local governmentsare bleeding right now, and they partner with these kinds of organizations because they are cheap.

    The only way to combat the problem is to convince state and local governments that there is a cheaper alternative.
    \ .

  • Gunthar2000

    @Steven Slate…

    I spent a couple of hours last night online looking for some personal testimony linking St. Jude to Narconon and I couldn’t find anything.

    I also checked out a couple of sites that listed Scientology’s front groups.

    Here’s a link…

    Again… Nothing about St. Jude.

    I owe you an apology.

    As I said before, the quality of the stuff you are writing is excellent.
    I don’t agree with everything you have to say, but 99% of it surpasses most of what I’ve read… anywhere… ever.

    You are right. It’s irresponsible to spread rumors without evidence. The only excuse I can find is that I’ve become a pit bull for the recovery reform movement. I consider it my duty to protect others from those who might seek to take advantage, and I’m a bit hypersensitive when it comes to this cause.

    Again… I’m sorry Steven Slate.

  • @Gunthar – I apologize too for being snappy. I respect your opinions, passion, work, and vigilance. Thank you for both the compliments and the apology. Much appreciated.

  • DeConstructor

    @Steven Slate-

    Thankyou for taking the time to do this. Every time someone who has been through this machine takes the time to document its shortcomings, we build a stronger community.

    It all creates a stronger voice in condemnation of this disaster wrongly marketed as medicine.

    Your work is, and will be saving lives.


  • Lucy

    Steven – Have you looked at the incident back into the Synanon incidents back in the 1970s? I lived in N. California then and knew some people involved with the prosecution.
    I think you would find it very interesting.

  • AA Escapee

    I’d like to weigh in on St. Judes, if I may. I had a couple of conversations (one lengthy) with the intake coordinator and wish I would have gone to that program – instead of the one on SR’s front page, Morningside Recovery, which is nothing more than a front for a giant AA meeting. Needless to say (and not surprising that it’s featured on SR), they lied to me big time. Morningside tried to rip me off big time, but I followed the press and got lucky and was able to leverage their legal problems and get a good share of my money back.

    I had no bad vibes from SJ whatsoever. No mention was made of saunas, etc. Rather, I was told the emphasis was on education. In the end, I went with MS due to proximity and pet issues. Big mistake. So to all the doubters in this thread, I can back up Steven Slate in his assertions.

  • MA

    AA Escapee, what bad press are you referring to in regards to Morningside?

  • @Lucy
    I have seen stories about synanon, I think on 60 Minutes or some other newsmag show years ago. Sounds like a real horror story from what I remember. I have heard similar stories about other therapeutic communities (I think synanon was a TC type of operation, please correct me if I’m wrong), and I had a friend who went through something similar in Florida – this thing that like pulls the whole family in and ends up being a total mindf#@k.

    For some real horror stories, check out Maia Szalavitz’s book “Help At Any Cost”. It documents the bootcamp and nature hiking programs for troubled teens. Truly horrific stuff. She might’ve even covered synanon in that, I’ll have to take a look through and see.

  • @MikeBD, Escapee, and Decon – thanks!

  • Lucy

    Have you folks ever looked at the history of Synanon? It was the seed for Narconon, and for therapeutic schools.

    I lived near Tomales Bay when law enforcement went after it and remember it well.

  • Somewhere on this blog, one of the members of the Foundation Family School Truth Campaign noted that the founders of that school had Synanon in mind when they started it. Amazing.

    I read some about Synanon. Super batshit. They even made the women shave their heads — because you just can’t look too culty.

  • Lucy

    I seem to be repeating myself with posting drafts. That’s what I get for doing this at work.

    Steven – you can get the court records on Synanon, but the best article about it was in the little local newspaper in Point Reyes.

    Syanono nwas an AA splinter, and it was the parent for the school and boot camp idea. It was in prisons, jails, etc. in the 1970s. Some people that left it became $cientologists and founded Narconon.

  • Diablo has posted (a lot of) stuff on syanon and the tti (which is new to me) in community. I think syanon was meant to be the ‘best of AA and NA’.

  • Lucy

    Synon was founded by an AA member to treat drug addicts who were unwelcome in AA

  • (on this site dedicated to syanon nostalgia)
    Syanon is no longer in operation. If you need help – try these links: Narcotics Anonymous, Delancey Street, Walden House, Samaritan Village in Brooklyn, Amity Foundation, Marvins Corner in Miami or Phoenix House all staffed or run by former Syanon residents.

  • Lucy, and some people who left it must have returned to AA. I wonder where they will go after AA, like Syanon, is exposed.

  • Lucy

    Yes, Primrose. It was shut down by the courts when several Synanon members were accused of murder and extortion. Also, the founder was arrested for DUI.

    They were a scary lot.

  • Lucy

    It was shut down by the courts after members were linked to murder and extortion. The founder later had a drunk driving arrest.

    I remember the rattlesnake one of them left in the mailbox of the prosecuting attorney.

  • Lucy

    I am again repeating myself.

  • hulahoop

    I checked on the cost of a six week at Saint Judes. Prices started at $12,500.00. That is on the low end of what a lot rehab centers charge.

    I do not know how most people afford it if they do not have insurance coverage that will pay for it. It makes me wonder where people get the money. I know a lot of the advertisements will say something like, “Think of all the money you will save on booze or drugs.” or “You can’t place a price on your sobriety and happiness.” They sure do.

    I do not understand why it costs about $2000.00 a week (and more). Especially if the rehab does not offer medical care or testing.

  • AA Escapee


    Becky Flood was CEO at Morningside when I was there, along with her husband Maurice Wilson, who is now deceased. At any rate, she also heads up New Directions for Women. She was known to be ruthless and some thought maybe drinking again. At any rate, her husband would go through New Directions for Women in his bathrobe and walk in on women. Complaints were filed and it was in the Orange County Register quite a bit. Horrible slander against Floor and Wilson ensued, and even from former and current employees.

    She was forced to step down and out of Morningside and the former founder stepped in as CEO at Morningside. Won’t get into specific details, but it’s amazing how threatening legal action and telling someone he would not want Morningside tied to Flood got me what I asked for in less than 24 hours. They had misleading photos on their website which were subsequently pulled. All in all, very misrepresented.

    Irony is that the show Intervention sent one of their “saved” by intervention to New Directions for Women and even she complained. Not sure what is going on with New Directions right now. But I can say stay away from Morningside. They lied to me about their program and it was quite the awful experience.

  • @hulahoop

    Yes it is expensive from many perspectives, and it is also very inexpensive when comparing it to 28 days at Hazelden, Betty Ford, or other inpatient/residential options which are peddling AA. While many are attending treatment on the state or federal government’s dollar, the crowd that ends up in the type of programs mentioned above or those seen on A&E is probably most often being funded by family members. That’s where they get the money.

    When I went to St Judes it cost around $6000. My parents paid for it. I am forever indebted to them for this. I could’ve spent the same amount (or more, I think) to give it another try with a year of outpatient methadone. That would’ve been a total waste. What I got out of my experience at St Judes was priceless in my eyes (and my family’s eyes).

    Where does all the money go? While I was there, they were expanding greatly, and they went from a nearly all volunteer staff to a fully paid staff, adding many more positions as they adjusted the program in various ways to make it more comfortable. Also, while I was there they went from instructors who were trained by them, to fully certified teachers with masters degrees (whose salaries were much higher than mine, even though I trained them in our practices and managed them as the lead instructor of the program!). These things all increase the costs.

    What does it cost daily to run? Idk. Nor do I think it would be proper of me to pretend to add it all up. Nor, as the Ayn Rand loving capitalist that I am, do I think it’s anyone but a competitor’s business to know.

    What a potential customer needs to know is: is this worth the cost, especially when compared with the other options available to me – will I get more out of this than I could get by spending my money elsewhere?

    What a competitor needs to know is: is there some way I can offer a better service? Or, is there some way I can copy what they’re doing and either offer it at a lower price, or in a way that I can get the government & insurance companies to pay me twice as much for it?

    A researcher needs to know: what are the principles on which they’re operating which are effective, and can I replicate and test those principles?

    Someone without the means to use this program, should ask: is there something of value in that program which I can find elsewhere for free or less money or provided by the gov?

    These, in my opinion, are appropriate questions. I think the most important thing you can learn from them is that “treatment” as we know it now (infused with 12-step and confrontational methods), is not necessary in order to solve a substance use problem. You can reject the disease concept of addiction, and not be crazy, and you can embrace the idea that you have a choice and use that to empower yourself rather than be ashamed of yourself (as the diseasers portray the consequences of such a position). Knowing this type of stuff, is enough for many to stop. Nobody needs St Judes program, but for some people, it helps them to initiate and speed up their own process of self-change much sooner than they would have if they kept dicking around with 12-step stuff, or doing nothing at all. I believe I’m one of those people.

  • DeConstructor

    Speaking of spending the governments nickel-

    When I basically kidnapped to inpatient treatment I was amazed at the BUSLOADS of Native Americans the tribes were sending to treatment. Many were there as frequent flyers, including one girl I spoke to who was sent back there after drinking one beer after being through inpatient 28 day treatment the month before.

    This spin dry charged over a thousand a day per person, as most do, creating a forever renewable resource of persons trained they are ‘diseased’.

    This may be the giant sucking sound they are always talking about.

    It would be nice if these tribes could see our point of view as they have considerable political clout.

  • Decon, I have never heard of the Native Americans being sent to treatment. Do they have a lot of political clout?

    Lucy, I have read about the violence at Syanon towards people who left. I thought it was ultimately shut down for tax reasons. My point was more that some of these Syanon people have moved back to AA. (back to the sadism/tough love/the game.

  • Gunthar2000

  • Martha
  • tintop

    ayn rand ???
    ayn rand said: I am not going to die. The world is coming to an end.

  • Martha

    When I was young and naive Ayn Rand was one of my heroes. I grew up and realized that her views drew on the some of the worst aspects of human behavior–selfishness. One of my current historical heroes is Eugene V. Debs.

  • @ steven slate: were you ever on methadone?

  • sorry if i was pissing you off…btw… i tihnk we actually are like-minded in many, many ways. i was not trying to be mean. i was way less paranoid about the agenda i thought you had than the chick who was on here promoting her book.

  • @Violet

    I did 3 separate stints on methadone. 2 of those times I was on it for about a year, the other time I lasted about 6-8 months.

    As you can see, I know of that thread, and I commented on there. I just went back to it this morning and found that someone else who went to SJ also commented and confirmed that it had nothing to do with scientology. That made me happy, although I was unhappy to hear that he/she didn’t enjoy their experience there/find it helpful. I don’t agree with their assertions about the program – their are some similarities to some 12-step concepts, but they’re few, and they’re not the ones that matter. They did have a “surrender” there when I originally attended, and I was told I didn’t need to do it since I was atheist, so in other words, they tailored the program to my beliefs while I was there. And obviously, they employed me and put me in charge of the teaching, knowing that I was an atheist. And shortly thereafter we removed the surrender idea from the program. As I’ve said before in another thread, they did evolve out of AA, and systematically removed almost any trace of it. The poster on that thread who said it was AA in disguise, would have had more of a case (although a shaky one) about SJ circa 2003, but no case about SJ circa 2005.

    My only problem with SJ at this point is that to a small degree, they base their teachings on an altruistic morality (a feelgood holdover from AA which most people really love). This is contradicted by a massive focus on personal goals. It’s a bit of a mixed message, as any altruist teachings must be since they are impracticable in the real world. At the same time as they were asking people to go do volunteer work type of stuff, they were also teaching them to dream big and really focus on making themselves happy. It is the curse of our age, and I accept it as the norm. Being an Objectivist, I believe in rational self-interest personally, a moral code which people are quick to hate on, dismiss, and express hostility towards, but slow or resistant to try to understand the nuances of. I won’t argue for it here, because I’ll just make people hate me, and I wouldn’t win any converts, and it’s not totally important. While I love Ayn Rand’s ideas, I realize she’s been smeared enough that hostility towards her is rampant, yet most people live her ideals without even realizing it, so I needn’t proselytize for her! Nevertheless, I won’t hide my fan-dom, because it’s a big part of who I am – and I basically go about life speaking my mind and allowing people to accept me for who I am, or eff off. I have never been anonymous about my problems (even when in 12-step programs), and I won’t be anonymous about the other parts of my life. I never want to hide what I think again, I spent too much of my life repressed. I don’t have time for those who would hate me because I like a certain philosopher or hold a particular political view. Nor do I have the luxury of behaving that way towards others – I’m a libertarian, living in NYC, and I write and perform comedy at a well known theatre where every one of my friends is a rabid liberal. If I hated people for their views, I’d have no friends.

  • For the record, although I subscribe to Rand’s views, I do not live to push them on my clients. I want people to tap into their own values, whatever they may be, and develop goals based on them, then use that to help them progress.

    Basically, find out whatever turns you on more than excessive substance use, and go after it! If that’s service work and unselfishness, so be it. If it’s rationally selfish goals, then so be it!

  • i get you like altruism is silly and and not even real accorning to dawkins. i have never been able to get through one of rand’s books. however, one of my favorite books, *two girls fat and thin* by mary gaitskill is fiction vased on rand’s followers. the book’s depiction of the characters’ mental state freaked me out enough to not want to really pursue rand. so many people on here seem to like here, so i have considerd trying again. the characters were all reallyreally depressed, however, none of you really seem to be depressed.

    i think you might be into the tea party. are you? it would be interesting to see your friends’ responses to this. i try to admire their anarchist spirit. (but i mostly do not.)

    i really do like your site and thank you for clearing things up.

  • Olympia

    @Steven Slate! gosh, so many interesting comments – I really need to take the time to read them all. Regarding cultural differences: you would be surprised to learn that no Scandinavian language (Danish,Swedish,Norwegian) has a word for addiction. We only have a word for dependency (afhængighed). Neither do we have a word for “recovery” in the sense it is used in relation to addiction. Historically and culturally we have a totally different view on these phenomenons compared to the US. In 1989 when NA was introduced in Denmark (spreading widely ever since), the Danish groupers had to invent new phrases for “addict” and “recovery”. Regarding the term “addict” – they decided to keep the English word. Regarding the term “recovery”, a new framing of an original Danish word had to be utilized.
    Regarding the methadone issue, it is interesting and complicated. In Europe some activists are addressing what they call “the scientification of harm reduction”, pointing out that “big pharma” and medical doctors are controlling and medicalizing a basically social phenomenon. That could explain why people treated with methadone are denied respect,recognition and basic human rights. The medical profession is only trained to deal with patients and control, not social and cultural issues. This view also permits us to ask if “treatment” is the right answer to drug problems. Maybe the dichotomist choice between punishment and treatment is false, maybe we need to articulate better questions to create better options and answers. Hope my response is not too confusing. Kind regards Olympia

  • Olympia; thanks for that. No word for addiction? What is the afhaengighed situation in Denmark? Please post some more. What you say is very interesting. Have you looked in the community pages yet? Really glad that you found this blog and I look forward to hearing/reading more of your thoughts.

  • “The medical profession is only trained to deal with patients and control, not social and cultural issues. This view also permits us to ask if “treatment” is the right answer to drug problems. Maybe the dichotomist choice between punishment and treatment is false, maybe we need to articulate better questions to create better options and answers. ”

    I agree. In my view, “treatment or jail” is a false dichotomy, and this supposed debate is used as an intimidation tactic against anyone who criticizes the current state of treatment. They’re basically saying you’re a horrible heartless person if you criticize treatment (or the disease concept) and assume that you want to send people to jail. I don’t want to force people into either of these 2 options, personally. I wrote a piece on this a while ago:
    Also, a post applying Rand’s Argument From Intimidation to the tone of the disease debate:

    I second Primrose. I want to hear a lot more from you about the culture of addiction in your country, and your views. I was beginning to think you wouldn’t reply, I’m glad you did. A friend from sj told me years back that there weren’t words for addiction and alcoholism in many other countries, and that it was basically an american invention. I always thought that was interesting, so it’s great to hear from you that you had no word for it – and simultaneously horrifying to hear that NA came in and invented words for you so they could spread their self-destructive beliefs.

    Please tell me more!

  • @Violet

    I want to answer your question in good faith, and assume it’s not an attempt to make people hate me, but I’ll basically start and end my comments about the tea party here. Janeane Garofolo performs at the theatre I’m part of, and she has said on our stage that all tea partiers (excuse me, teabaggers) are racists. And this pretty much sums up the position of all of my friends. It was news to me, because I went to the tax day tea party in 2009 (first rally of any type that I had attended/supported, but not the first one I’d seen as I lived right next to ground zero for 3 years) – several of the speakers were black, one of the 2 organizers was black, and it was a fully mixed crowd. Furthermore, the message was all about small government. It never occured to me that anyone should think it racist except for the fact that rightwingers are always smeared as racists. So I find it insulting when people say matter-of-factly that it’s all about racism or full of racists or whatever. And that’s where I am on it, I’m fed up to no end with being called a racist – I can’t believe the notion continues to be taken seriously. I won’t be drawn into discussing the full political ideology here, because it’s off topic, and people can do their own homework in looking into the difference between libertarian and statist ideals – because that’s what the tea party is really all about (we’re converting republicans into libertarianism!). I could talk endlessly about the tea party, but that would just alienate me from more people. I’m a proud Ron Paul voter, maybe I can connect with some people on that front – he’s for legalization!

    On Dawkins, I haven’t read him. On Rand – “Philosophy Who Needs It” is great collection of her essays, where you could learn from the horses mouth how she really thinks, rather than listening to other people’s misrepresentations of her views. I read her essays and philosophical work long before I read any of her fiction. The fiction leaves too much room for misunderstanding her views, because it’s a story, her other work leaves no room for misunderstanding with an intelligent reader.

  • i am in zero way trying to get anyone to hate you, if anything people prolly think i am getting annoying with the clean slate paranoia.

    first, I LOVE THAT WOMAN (ms. garofolo). total girl crush for me… sorry, i forgot that tea partiers do not like that name, sorry if i used it. i have a lib.t. homeschooling friend who had to point out how rude the bagger term was. she loves ron paul, too. she actually did a sort of solo walk for hi–to support hi–all organized by herself, got her own press on it and everything.

    my sponsor, the one who gave me her belessing to leave aa, she said though she believed that aa worked, she knew it didn’t for everyone. i seriously think she HELPED me leave aa. i just needed SOMEONE to back me up, for once. ok, my point about her: she is a tea partier and am almost certain she was there in 09.

    that is a good point about fiction and rand, never woulda thought of that. sorry to be so nosy, but i had to ask all of those questions. though some were def. off topic. thanks for answering.

  • AntiDenial

    Wel I am glad to see I am in good company with anti-Scientologists!
    They are totally against ANY meds for the mentally ill. Even severe mentally ill.
    They believe your problems are from sins from prior lifetimes.
    So a poor paranoid person has to not only worry about NOW-but what the hell they did
    in past lifetimes. Which of course would stand to reason must of been PRETTY BAD if you are a paranoid schizophrenic and have lost your mind. Then it is your fault for this illness. Plus you have to deal with the guilt and shame of whatever the hell you did in another lifetime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Have mentioned this before, but could we not make common cause with other cultbusting operations? Have ftg and ma had any contact with Steve Hassan? I know that this aspect is not the main aim of this blog and is more of a reflection my personal contact with this cult but when you are trying to get someone out, or get someone informed (which is the battle) it seems important. I have tried and failed to contact Steve Hassan. Has anyone else had any luck?

  • Or any thoughts on this possible joining of forces?

  • Gunthar2000


    I believe that orange had a bit of a disagreement with S.H. at one time as far as classifying AA as a cult. There is some light criticism of AA on his site, but I think he’s not interested.

  • Thanks, G.
    I read somewhere, years ago, that cultwatchers in general that AA was the most significant cult to be felled, because of the relationship with the court system in the Us which would make it the easiest to attack in terms of the (I used to think fabled) First Amendment. And so others cults could be exposed in its wake.

  • I know that exposing the cult characteristics of AA is not an aim of this blog, but I would be interested in anyone’s one word answer to the number of yes answers they get to this questionnaire. The aspects of AA that are not cult like are more interesting than those that are. The appeals for money are absent at group level. (Treatment centres are different but a significant proportion of AA members did not get there through treatment centres)

    Thanks all.

  • That is a cool checklist, but I would be concerned about the source, as it ilooks (to me like the website of an over the top Christian group.

  • Martha

    Article about AA from the Science Based Medicine website.

    About the author: