How do you attract addicts to treatment ?

After reading the comments made by the Moderator, and understanding that so few addicts seek treatment, I wonder if there are solutions to enroll more addicts into treatments of their choice and keep them motivated in turning their lives around for the better. Thank you for your comments (solutions).

Super User Asked on August 31, 2018 in Addiction case.
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Thank you too for reprising this follow-up!

I am inspired by Maia Szalavitz “a former cocaine and heroin addict, also the author or co-author of seven books, and writer of New York Times” as she makes her points on how best to handle an addict who is reluctant to receive medication. She truly drives her point home regarding this subject matter.

“To improve both addiction treatment access and success, we need less coercion, not more. ” She says.

Contrary to stereotype, by the time addiction sets in, drug use isn’t particularly pleasurable and many people with addictions are well aware that their lives have gone wrong. Sadly, they also know that treatment is often designed to be “tough love”— and is not only likely to be painful, but ineffective. Would you seek such help with so little hope?

In fact, research shows that the most effective addiction therapies are kind, welcoming and supportive, not harsh or confrontational. But it’s hard to create a warm atmosphere in a setting where a third to half and sometimes more of participants are legally mandated and staff is poorly trained and underpaid.

When patients consistently avoid other types of care, providers make it more attractive, just as marketers do with unwanted consumer products. Unfortunately, decades of seeing force as the only way to motivate addicted people have created a largely inhospitable system that views harsh and disrespectful treatment as not only acceptable, but also necessary to get patients to realize that they have “hit bottom.” This, in turn, leads to calls for more coercion when people, quite reasonably, choose not to enter or drop out, creating a vicious cycle.

Moreover, because so many people with addictions don’t attend voluntarily, programs have little incentive to become user-friendly. The person who goes to jail if rehab fails isn’t the head of the institution or its counselors, it’s the patient. And there’s always another warm body from the justice system to fill empty slots, when failure is always the patient’s fault. This dysfunctional system further stigmatizes addiction by implying that punishment is necessary in treatment, unlike for any other disorder.

Some programs, to their great credit, realized the need for change when AIDS made reaching active drug users to reduce needle sharing an urgent task. They discovered that, just like grandma said, you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. And contrary to claims that coercion is necessary, research on needle exchange and other “harm reduction” programs shows that they attract people into recovery, rather than extending addiction. One Vancouver harm reduction program got 57 percent of participants into treatment.

To most effectively use our limited resources, we need treatment that attracts patients without lazily relying on coercion. Not only is this more humane, it’s also cheaper and more likely to result in lasting recovery.

I believe tailoring programs in a friendly and welcoming manner can drastically attract large masses to join the rehabilitation programs.

I hope this shades some light on the subject, best regards!

Consulted source: Maia Szalavitz, New York Times.

Moderator Answered on August 31, 2018.
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Thank you Moderator for your “textbook” response. We all understand that coercion, harsh, confrontational and forced treatment will never work. It is a fact we all agree upon.

I disagree with Moderator. I know times are changing because most addiction treatment facilities in the nation are nice facilities, very well staffed with qualified, welcoming, kind and supportive staff. Patients are free to come and go as pleased with in rare cases some “tough love” situations. On top of that, if patients have Medicaid, treatment is 100% free. If private pay, treatment is around $12 per day.  Even “tailored programs in a friendly and welcoming manner” don’t attract as many patients as they should. So I still don’t understand that with all these great treatment programs everywhere, so few addicts decide to get help.

Are there any solutions ?

Super User Answered on August 31, 2018.
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Please Moderator don’t retract your earlier motion. I am not condemning or arguing your point of view. I totally respect your point of view and it contains a lot of valid points. What I said is solely my own point of view only, and I am not arguing with you.  Actually, it is very interesting to see other people’s point of view. It is the reason why I contribute. Like everybody else, I am learning everyday.

As a collective, we all need to reflect on finding solutions to make treatment attractive to all addicts. So far I don’t have any solution and I didn’t hear any satisfying solutions from anybody out there yet.

Best regards.


Super User Answered on August 31, 2018.
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@Olivier, you make valid points regarding the current system. I understand you’re a man of experience in this area and you get to face these situations in day to day life every day, in light of which, I retract my earlier motion. Thanks for clarifying. Hopefully we can keep looking into more productive solutions to how best we can attract addicts into the well laid and prepared treatment programs all around the nation. Discussion is still open,

Thank you so much for your contributions!

Moderator Answered on August 31, 2018.
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I totally understand what you mean. Thank you for clarifying!

Discussing with one of my colleagues, I realise that coercive approach is already at play or at least implicitly. The government’s enforcements against drug use, or cases close to it, the extreme stigma in the community all alike place some kind of pressure against addicts to either hide from the general community or seek help, nonetheless, the response is still extremely low and this leaves the question still hanging, how best can addicts be attracted towards treatment.

I will leave this open to further contributions until possibly we find a better solution. Thanks so much for your contribution,

Kind regards,

Moderator Answered on September 2, 2018.
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