Just Another Bogus Study

Harvard, Hazelden and the Center for Addiction Medicine conducted a study which shows a couple of things: 1. When young people enter treatment, their motivation is high, but their coping and self-efficacy skills are low; 2. Those who have the highest success rates, 3 months post-treatment, have the highest levels of self-efficacy and coping skills.

So, they spent money to figure that out.

When entering treatment, study participants reported high levels of motivation to remain abstinent but lower levels of coping skills, self-efficacy and commitment to mutual support groups. During-treatment increases in these measures predicted abstinence from alcohol or other drug use at three months post-treatment. Self-efficacy or increased confidence in ability to sustain recovery was the strongest predictor of abstinence.

When they say “support group,” what they mean is AA or NA. Twelve Step is the only treatment option these kids received. Therefore, what this study cannot demonstrate is any evidence of the efficacy of 12 Step treatment. It would be irresponsible to even make that suggestion.

Slaymaker of Hazelden adds, “The young people in our study were quite motivated to do well in treatment but lacked the confidence, coping skills, and commitment to AA that are critical to longer-term success. Treatment appears to work by increasing their confidence and ability to make and sustain healthy, recovery-related efforts.”

The findings suggest residential treatment provides the boost that the young people need. By reducing their psychological distress, developing their recovery-focused coping skills, increasing their commitment to AA and other groups [they mean NA, not SMART], and by enhancing their overall confidence to stay clean and sober, young people make meaningful changes in treatment that position them for improved outcomes. Because self-efficacy was a strong predictor of abstinence, it may serve as a useful clinical summary indicator to monitor change and relapse potential among young adults in treatment.


They’re not saying AA is important; they’re saying commitment to AA is. Still, the study doesn’t demonstrate this at all, except by default. Since AA is the only treatment option provided, the honest conclusion would have to be that commitment is important. Throwing AA in as a factor is disingenuous, akin to claiming that Pop Rocks are part of a balanced breakfast if you sprinkle them on your oatmeal and fruit.

Does it seem to anyone else that the conclusions they draw are inconsistent with the information they gathered in this study?

Young adults want to recover from addiction by need help to make it happen, study suggests

Young adults undergoing addiction treatment arrive ready and willing to make the personal changes that bring about recovery, but it’s the help and guidance received during treatment that build and sustain those changes, according to a longitudinal study published electronically and in press within the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The study was conducted collaboratively by the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and the Butler Center for Research at Hazelden.

Read the whole thing…

Here’s a link to the study.

[Emphasis mine.]

  • SoberPJ

    Hazelden can not abandon the Minnesota Model, they ARE the Minnesota Model. They have one lens with which to see the world and it will always be that lens skewing their results. What they have shown here is people need exactly what AA does not offer, nor can it ever offer in its current form. Self-efficacy is not obtained through life long self-flagulation, negative introspection and a decree of powerlessness. How they can’t see the blatant contradiction simply astounds me.

  • In any “scientific” study the selection of the correct random sample population as well as any sampling bias to get a true picture of its validity is important. It should be noted that another study done by E. M. Jellinek has and still is part of the “gold standard” of the monopoly of addiction treatment that the Midas Touch of Hazelden relies on for its survival. This study on youth and rehab co-authored by Hazelden, appears to have the same type of sampling bias that the Jellinek study has been cited for, mainly that the sample population was hand picked by people that have a financial reason to make sure that the study fits their business model.

    The target client base of children in this study is disturbing and leads to the conclusion that rehab based on 12 Step methods which Hazelden teaches and publishes the majority of the literature on, is the best treatment available. It would be interesting to see this study based on the sample population of the 4000 children sent to the Hazelden standards of PA Childcare in Luzerne County Pennsylvania who were sent their illegally by Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr. who is currently serving a 28 year jail sentence for his part in the “Kids for Cash” scandal. I believe that the conclusions based on a study of this sample of Hazelden Standards would have different conclusions.

    Studies with a sample population of the 4000 Children illegally sent to PA Childcare such as this would be helpful in the Class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Ciavarella, Conahan, their wives and their confederates in the scheme, now commonly referred to as the “kids for cash” conspiracy. The Juvenile Law Center and the offices of Hangley Aronchick Segal and Pudlin in Pennsylvania would most likely be very interested in the Hazelden connection in the Class Action law suit they have pending.



  • I learned my coping skills in Elan. After that place prison was a breeze.

    They’re not specific about what kind of treatment these kids are getting

    Some of these places break you

    I keep figuring out shit that place took from me 35 years later.

    Abstinence? Lol

  • causeandeffect

    My first thought on this was to rant about all the ways twelve step facilitation rails against the very things this article says makes these kids successful–self efficacy, confidence, motivation, coping skills, commitment, but it made me oh so tired and queasy to think about all the stupid slogans that we are all so familiar with anyway.

    Instead, I’d like to focus on rehab and what I think it should be. Rehabs lock a person up long enough to feel a little good away from the addiction and give some time to break the habit, but as most rehabs are 12 step, that’s as far as it goes and it’s all negativity after that. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if rehabs taught actual coping skills (instead of just praying and hoping gawd will act as a genie in a bottle) and real tools for change, for a change? Like some CBT and REBT, DBT, AVRT, EMDR (don’t know much about it but I’ve heard good things) dealing with trauma and sexual abuse, motivational enhancement, relaxation techniques, more relaxation techniques, nutritional health, self acceptance, and allowed time for just shooting the breeze, and some fun with games, funny movies, etc. to teach the clients that they can truly enjoy life without drugs or alcohol. Of course, they would have to have uncomfortable beds, crappy showers and bad food as a deterrent from returning. 😉 And of course there would need to no threat of this getting onto medical records since that can follow you for life, like it did with Persephone.

    I say the kids who were successful here were so despite AA and 12 step.

    Pop rocks on oatmeal! You’re on a roll with the analogies tonight, ilse!

  • Cause, OH YEAH!

    I have a problem with these centers claiming any responsibility for these success stories. They certainly cannot claim anything in my case, especially while denying any responsibility for the suicidal ODs that continue to go on unnoticed by almost all of our society.

  • flannigan

    All this study shows is that AA/NA does not work. There is not much more to say.