All About Addiction

Helping addicts get their lives back

The Best Addiction Treatment Option

The best treatment is always the one that works.

I get asked which addiction treatment option is the best all the time. The short answer? Whichever one ends up working for the client.

I don't like being stuck in the corner, having to pick a "best of" option just because I'm asked. For some clients Moderation Management will work, others need intense day-treatment or an in-hospital residential treatment program before moving into a more traditional residential place for a year or more. Some clients feel suffocated by such a structured environment and can't manage it - outpatient treatment options can be a better fit there.

Sometimes we ask ourselves questions in a way that forces us to make bad choices: Which is better, chocolate or vanilla ice-cream? I reject the premise.

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It's about time we all faced the fact that only rare occasions allow for two-word answers that are absolutely true. The world is full of nuance and if we don't start allowing some gray into our conceptualization of questions and answers we are going to keep repeating the past mistakes of polarized opposition to a small number of camps that are all equally wrong.

Brain research supports the notion that they way in which questions are posed can affect the sort of answers we look for. Our brain pays attention to the stimuli it expects to find. So if you think that all you have to pick from are two or three options, your brain will calculate costs and benefits and spit out an answer — 42. It's what happens when you ask the wrong question — you get a nonsensical answer.

So I don't answer question like "which treatment is best?" or "which is more important, biology, the environment, or personality?" The way I see it the pieces are all so interconnected that the separation is false. The question is moot. And that's true whether you're picking addiction treatment or a your favorite cone.

Adi Jaffe, Ph.D., is the executive director of Alternatives Behavioral Health and a lecturer at UCLA and California State University Long Beach.

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