Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to try a different approach.
That’s the strategy employed by Adi Jaffe and Marc Kern, psychologists who opened Alternatives, an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility in Beverly Hills, in February.
Alternatives favors moderation over abstinence, a technique it says helps patients reduce the harm the substance is causing them.
“If someone isn’t ready to stop, we see if they can at least learn to do it moderately,” said Kern, the facility’s director of clinical services.
“I came out of Ohio State with a degree in architecture and bad habits,” said Kern, who once struggled with addiction himself. “I found that the 12-step mandates didn’t work for me.”
Moderation, however, is a controversial approach.
“If someone with an addiction problem is still using a substance … even mildly, they’re not fully recovered,” said Michael Walsh, president of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, who believes moderation is too ambiguous. “One person’s idea of moderate drinking might not match the next person’s.”
But Kern points to successes he said he’s had during his 30 years in practice as evidence that moderation can work. (He and Jaffe advocate abstinence when it comes to substances that are illegal to possess.)
“Anyone holding on to a formula from the mid-’30s is missing the boat,” said Kern of traditional 12-step programs.
– Funmi Akinyode