12-Step Programme is what's needed
THE letter from Juliette Blunkett (The Herald, January 23) regarding how drug users are dealt with in the State of Florida I found most interesting. Juliette shared with us how drug users on welfare in Florida are drug tested and if the test result is positive they won't be eligible for welfare.
America is way ahead of the UK in dealing with addictions. They utilise all available facilities, especially the successful 12 Step Programme Mutual Help Groups (MHGs).
These groups are best defined as two or more people gathered together to share an experience or problem and provide problem specific help and support to one another. Members themselves run groups in rented venues without professional involvement and, unlike professional interventions, people can attend MHGs as intensively and for as long as they desire without divulgence of personally identifying information. In contrast to professional treatments people have access to MHGs at times when they are at higher risk of relapse such as evenings, weekends and festive holidays. Many MHGs encourage members to contact each other by telephone between meetings whenever help is needed. Consequently these groups provide an adaptive, community-based system that is highly responsive to wavering risk of relapse.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has by far the most widespread network of MHGs in existence. AA is now active in over 170 countries with more than 115,000 groups and an estimated membership of more than two million recovering alcoholics.
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The 12 Step Programme was designed by the founders of AA and has been tried and tested and proven to work by recovering alcoholics for over 77 years. This successful programme is now used by over 60 different recovery MHG networks such as Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Drug Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous to name but a few.
Each MHG is self-supporting through the contributions of its own members and doesn't apply for or accept money from any other source.
In the UK there is a tendency to use and fund agencies to deal with addictions. There is also a tendency to allow those addicted to remain on benefits for long periods (sometimes for years). Often substitutes for recovery are offered to addicts. These can take the form of medication, nicotine and gastric bands. These substitutes might help in the early stages of recovery but, in my view, they are not the answers to long-term contented recovery.
In my view, health services, police, probation service and the courts in the UK should utilise the 12 Step MHGs. America has found them to be a great resource in their endeavours to combat addiction.