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Recently the veteran industry magazine Variety unveiled The Recovery Issue, a series of 12 articles on addiction in the entertainment world. Reports from people in television, film, music, and theater call attention to the very real issue of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and the process of getting sober.
In an article on television shows, Caroline Framke writes about the title character of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, and how coming to terms with sobriety deepens him, concluding, “No character needs a drink or five to be worthy of our attention.” Another piece focuses on Danny Trejo, star of Machete, who was addicted to heroin at age 15, has been sober for over 50 years, and still goes to recovery meetings.
But while we affirm this series, which includes valuable stories from many in Hollywood, it omits some important data—facts on new treatment options in the 21st century. In the concluding article, “Hollywood Embraces Recovery: How Industry Insiders Get and Stay Sober,” the word “medication” appears exactly once.
Why Only Two Options?
Typically, when people think about choices to wrestle alcohol under control, there are two—and only two—choices available: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and rehabilitation centers.
Let’s address them, right off the bat. AA has been around for over 80 years, and for many is the “go-to resource” when alcohol becomes a problem. It does work for some, and it’s usually convenient—and free. But the estimated success rate for AA is around 5 to 10 percent of participants. (By its very nature, “anonymous” means that no statistics are compiled.)
Further, many people who would like to change their relationship with alcohol don’t like doing it in a group. (Group psychotherapy is not for everyone, either.) And AA’s focus on a “higher power” doesn’t always resonate. Finally, AA requires abstinence, which for many people is an impossible goal. When people try to be abstinent and fail, this can set in motion a chain reaction of worth and self-doubt, which can ironically increase the likelihood of seeking alcohol to ease the pain.
Rehab Isn’t For Everyone
Rehabilitation centers can be effective, and some, such as the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, have national reputations for their work. But regulating these facilities has proven difficult. From yet another Recovery Issue article, “Many clinics also employ high-pressure sales techniques, doing little to assess a patient’s true needs.” For some people, checking in to rehab is a choice that suits their lifestyle and personality. But not everyone wants to put daily life “on hold” for a month or more. Leaving family, friends, and work for that length of time can be stressful and disruptive. And rehab can be expensive—as high as $50,000 for a month’s stay.
In the last few years, addiction research has come a long way. We now realize that AUD not only has psychological roots, but physiological ones as well. Far from being a “moral failing,” susceptibility to AUD is based on body chemistry. It’s science.
Now There Are Other Choices
When people despair about alcohol use and feel like there is no way out, they need to know that other choices are available—choices that make more sense. We affirm the principle of harm reduction: if someone is drinking say, a bottle of vodka every day (and yes, those people exist), wouldn’t it be better—if not perfect—to be able to have just one martini every day?
At Ria, we affirm whatever option gets the job done. If AA works for you, then you should use it, be happy about it, and rejoice. If you have the time, desire, and financial resources for a rehab center—fantastic. We will join you in celebrating victory with either one.
But for millions of others, these options simply do not work. And that’s where we come in, with an innovative, evidence-based treatment method that has been successful for over 70% of our members. (You can find testimonials from some of them on our website.)
Our method isn’t free, but it’s far from being $50,000 a month, either. It’s done in the privacy of home, or frankly, anywhere you wish, with your smartphone. And thanks to telehealth, our counseling team is available virtually 24/7. (We do our best to accommodate people over the holidays, too, which for many is the most stressful time of the year.)
We applaud Variety for devoting so much time, energy, and text to an issue that affects tens of millions of Americans. But we wish the publication had gone a little further, mentioning some more modern approaches to addiction. For many people, our method has allowed them to rejoin the people they love—and yes, even to have a drink now and then if they choose.
Call us, visit our website, let us show you a different way to look at alcohol.