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Positive message of this compendious synthesis of hundreds of studies is that "Recovery is not an aberration achieved by a small and morally enlightened minority of addicted people. If there is a natural developmental momentum within the course of [these] problems, it is toward remission and recovery."
REVIEW 2013 HTM file
Quitting drugs: quantitative and qualitative features
Innovative re-analysis of US national surveys reveals that no matter how long ago someone became dependent on an illegal drug or alcohol, their chances of achieving remission remain the same. The findings challenge models which assume that progressive neural, lifestyle or psychological changes increasingly lock someone in to addiction.
STUDY 2011 HTM file
Probability and predictors of remission from life-time nicotine, alcohol, cannabis or cocaine dependence: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions
The largest recent US national survey of drink and drug problems shows that outside the addiction treatment clinic, remission is the norm and recovery common. After 14 years half the people at some time dependent on alcohol were in remission, a milestone reached for cannabis after six years, and for cocaine after just five.
Comprehensive and thoughtful review of the UK-relevant literature warns that services which impose rigid and unrealistic expectations of abstinence or independent living on homeless addicts would deny treatment and housing to vulnerable adults with complex needs.
STUDY 1962 HTM file
The abstinent alcoholic
Classic description of the patient who has sustained abstinence after treatment but is still unhappy, unfulfilled and/or nervously hanging on – in other words, not really ‘recovered’. They formed the majority of patients seen at Connecticut’s alcohol clinics in the 1950s who were not drinking at follow-up.
Data from Britain's largest alcohol treatment trial is used to address possibly the most contentious issue in the field – whether services should offer moderation as well as abstinence goals to dependent clients. 'Let the patient choose' seems the general conclusion.
DOCUMENT 2014 HTM file
Should dependent drinkers always try for abstinence?
For many alcohol treatment services in the past and now, the only acceptable and feasible drinking goal for alcoholics is abstinence. That mould was decisively cracked when in 1973 researchers showed that even physically dependent drinkers could learn to drink in moderation. Controversy was fierce, reaching to the US Congress, TV networks and the courts.
Patient interviews provide insight into low levels of engagement and retention in alcohol treatment services, hindering the effective provision of treatment for dependent drinkers. Findings suggest that treatment pathways should better reflect the capacity and capabilities of people with alcohol dependence.
Comprehensive review and amalgamation of findings from studies enabling a comparison of controlled drinking versus abstinence as treatment goals concludes that even among diagnosably dependent drinkers, neither has the advantage in promoting low-risk (non-)drinking.
HOT TOPIC 2021 HTM file
‘Dangerous data’: drinking after dependence
First cracked in 1960s London, the orthodoxy that abstinence is the only feasible treatment goal for ‘alcoholics’ seemed shattered in 1973 by evidence that even physically dependent patients could learn to drink in moderation. Controversy was fierce, reaching the US Congress, TV networks and the courts. Explore the history and contested research behind an issue facing every dependent drinker starting treatment.
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