Powerful new article in Time by the always excellent Maia Szalavitz: Does Teen Drug Rehab Cure Addiction or Create It?
Increasingly, substance-abuse experts are finding that teen drug treatment may indeed be doing more harm than good. Many programs throw casual dabblers together with hard-core addicts and foster continuous group interaction. It tends to strengthen dysfunctional behavior by concentrating it, researchers say.
But these researchers Maia talked to, they’re probably pro-drug folks, right?
“Just putting kids in group therapy actually promotes greater drug use,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Oops. This is one of your hard-core prohibitionists saying that group therapy for teens “actually promotes greater drug use.”
The article points out the problems involved with putting teens in therapy (particularly for those who are not experiencing severe problems from drug abuse).
- Group therapy puts casual users in proximity with hard core users and gives them enticing descriptions of hard drug use
- Teen therapy reduces positive time with families
- Therapy focuses on surrendering to helplessness to addiction (12-step), and for teens that’s a negative path.
So here with a system that, instead of focusing on those with problems (harm reduction), uses incarceration and treatment to turn casual use young people (in particular) into networked drug criminals with reduced family support and damaged self-esteem.
Add to that a national anti-drug advertising program that has actually been found to increase interest in drugs, a school D.A.R.E. program that has been shown to increase the likelihood of using drugs unsafely, and a prohibition program that insures that young people will be able to purchase at any age through contact with criminals, and you have a government system that should absolutely scare the crap out of parents.
Oh, and the winners in all this?
The rehab industry.