The Heart of Addiction

How psychology drives addictive behavior.

The right and wrong way to measure progress with an addiction

Everybody takes for granted that progress in addiction means abstaining from, or at least cutting down, addictive behavior. This is the standard of measurement for addiction treatment facilities and research outcome studies. But this is naive, since progress can be occurring before any change in behavior, and behavior can change without any real progress. Read More

it's just a "symptom"

Ah, all so true. Relapse can be part of getting well if the relapse is seen as a signal for what's been happening for the client. "Relapse" is something that needs to be understood, not stigmatized.

I guess treatment centers are under the gun of "accountability" and statistics, measured by the cessation of addictive behavior, so they can keep getting the $$$.

It's hard to measure progress in psychological therapy. Anything that reflects that the individual has made some changes in the way he views himself, his relationships with others and the environment at large would be "progress". Achieving insight into the factors that influenced his life - where do these feelings of helplessness come from? - can those factors be reframed in the context of his mature, adult self?

For us, insight is progress. How do you measure that?

Dorothy Hayden, LCSW

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Lance Dodes, M.D., is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.


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