What Price is Too High for Life?

I am currently at an international psychology and behavioral health conference in Japan. Yesterday, I spoke to a packed room about addiction recovery. A participant from a wealthy country asked what highly individualized treatment would cost. I replied that it would certainly depend on the needs of the addict and the costs of the treatment center (luxury centers are more expensive, for example, than other types of facilities), but that in general, the more individualized the care and the greater the number of therapies provided, the higher the cost. The participant expressed horror. “Treatment already costs too much and takes too long!”

Imagine if your child had a congenital heart defect or your mother had cancer, and the doctor told you that he had a treatment that would likely cure your loved one, but that it would take ninety days and cost over a hundred thousand dollars. Your reaction would be, “How do we get it done?!” – Because we want our loved ones to recover.

But very often, we still see addiction as a moral failing that people should “just get over.” We have come to believe because of this that the amount of time dedicated to treatment should be short and not costly. The 28 day model, which is essentially detox and an introduction to a 12 step philosophy, is all we believe addicts “should” need. In fact, research and experience both show that this is not at all the case.

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