Exercise Your Choice Muscle!!

Lots of health care professionals and workers in the chemical dependency treatment industry feel that it is necessary to infantilize so-called “alcoholics” and “drug addicts” in order to make them change. That is why they want to give folks 30 day naltrexone implants instead of a prescription for oral naltrexone and the Sinclair Method. The feel that no one will comply with their medication if given a choice and this reasoning is dead wrong. The same is true for mandated participation in chemical dependency treatment or mandated AA attendance which is enforced with the threat of a jail sentence for failure to comply.

The actual fact is that people who really want to change are great at compliance. When Sinclair was doing his research in Finland he found a 90% compliance rate of heavy drinkers who were prescribed naltrexone to change their drinking. Then why is it that US professionals get such poor compliance from “alcoholics” or “addicts”? It is because US professionals are attempting to change people against their wills in ways which they do not choose for themselves. I believe that we should recognize that drug or alcohol use is a lifestyle choice just as we recognize that other high risk behaviors such as skydiving or gay sex are lifestyle choices.

Let us stop trying to force people to change against their wills and instead work only with people who have chosen to change their drug or alcohol use. If we do this then we will find that compliance is very high. And the best way to help people to make positive changes in their drug or alcohol use is to give them the opportunity to exercise their choice muscle. Every time a person makes a choice to drink safely, drink less, or have an alcohol free day they get a chance to exercise the choice muscle. And the stronger the choice muscle gets, the more people will have success in sticking to the positive changes which they want to make.

Copyright © 2010, The HAMS Harm Reduction Network

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About Kenneth Anderson

Kenneth Anderson is the author of the book How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol. He is also the founder and CEO of The HAMS Harm Reduction Network.
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