Thursday, March 19, 2009


The US House has supported the Bill HR 911, which outlines a mechanism for oversight, monitoring and restricting programs/facilities which provide residential services for teens up to age 18. There are those who are not in favor of such a Bill because it is too restrictive and based largely on one person's experience with a program that took the life of his son. They view it as punishment to all service providers including foster parents. Human service professionals state that it will impede many houses/programs from being certified and placement for teens will get backlogged.
In my humble opinion, one child lost in a residential program is one child too many. Historically, we have been lax when it comes to oversight of out-of-home programs including wilderness experiences and group home foster care. As a country, we have broken the cardinal rule of parenting - to keep children safe and secure. It is sad that we need federal legislation to mandate us to pay attention to places where teens are housed/educated/detoxed/treated for mental illness. But if that is what it takes, so be it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I just returned from the Harvard University School for Addiction Study Annual Conference. One of the attendees posed two questions that have been circulating at AA meetings for sometime. The first is whether or not AA is therapy? The answer is 'no'. It is self-help. Although it is of therapeutic value to most folks who attend, it is run by others who have 'walked the walk' of dependence upon alcohol. Therapy is very different and conducted by professionals who have spent a great deal of time studying the addiction process as well as how to facilitate wellness. The second question is whether or not a person who is on prescribed medication is really in recovery. The answer is, that if a person needs certain medications to manage his/her life, and they are taking this medication as prescribed, while abstaining from their drug of choice, then 'yes' that person is in recovery.
There will always be folks who have drug-seeking behaviors and who doctor shop just to get medications that they can use recreationally. These people are not in recovery. They are people who have chosen to put their drug use ahead of family, work and friends. Hopefully they will choose both treatment and self-help when they decide to start walking on the road to recovery!