There is a common misconception that treating substance use disorder is the same as treating a mental health disorder. The two are very different, but there are a lot of people who go about treating them the same way. Substance use disorder is a very specific problem to deal with, and it cannot be treated by the umbrella of treatment that is provided in clinical settings. Some say that a clinical approach to addiction is effective, but there are many people who would say that the only real approach to treating addiction is a comprehensive and hands-on 12 Step based program of action.
The general medical opinion of alcoholics and drug addicts that they are, for the most part, doomed. There is very little in the way of medical science, even in neurological and psychological fields that have proven effective for the treatment of substance use disorders, and the general opinion of healthcare providers is that they have very little of an idea of what they are doing when it comes to addiction. The brain is the final frontier of human science, and there is so much that we do not know about how the brain works. Sure we can determine what happens neurologically when a drug is put in the body, or when a drug addict is faced with a decision of whether or not to use, but that offers very little in the way of actual solutions to the problem. With certain mental health disorders it can be a different story, and depending on which disorder we are discussing, there are effective treatments for them. EMDR for trauma survivors, pharmaceutical drugs and therapy for anxiety and depression, therapy for obsessive compulsive disorders….the list goes on. For substance use disorders however, is has been relatively well proven that therapy has very little effect on treating the root causes of addiction, and pharmaceuticals only delay the problem. The only real solution for treating substance use disorders is working a 12 Step Program. If you ask anyone in AA, they will tell you that no one working a real program relapses. It is practically a fact. Practical experience shows that being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and working a program based on the principles outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, works.
The truth is that, categorically, the best approach to treating substance use disorders is following the 12 Steps. Millions of people throughout the last century can testify to its efficacy, and will say that working a program of recovery leads not only to liberation from drugs and alcohol, but to a happier life overall. All of the therapy in the world, and all of the pharmaceutical drugs in the world will not cure an alcoholic and addict of a seemingly hopeless state of mind. Science may progress to the point where this is a reality, but it has not happened quite yet.